Yesterday, I made a mistake.
I fed a troll.
Martin and I had just woken up, and I was casually scrolling through Facebook, while checking the morning’s happenings and any newsworthy events we should know before we started our day, when I came across a meme posted by someone I used to know and love, when I lived in Florida.
The meme was a photograph of Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Parkland Shooting, as she had appeared on Saturday, March 24th as a speaker during the March For Our Lives. (We had watched her speech online that day and cried. Her silence spoke for everything.) Scrawled across her photo was the following nonsense:
“You can’t even make this up. She is wearing a Cuban flag, a communist country that is well known for disarming its own people and slaughtering them wholesale; while addressing the US about gun control.”
I was struck by the conclusion this meme had jumped to, and immediately Googled Emma, to see about her Wikipedia page. I knew I would find what I needed there. In her “Early Life & Family” section, it states that her father is an immigrant from Cuba. Ding! This is the exact conclusion I draw from folks when I see them representing other countries on their clothes and accessories.
Question: If I were to advertise my Italian heritage in some accessory or fashion choice, does that mean that I’m automatically a super fan of Berlusconi? Does it mean that I look up to Il Duce (Mussolini) and think he was the best thing to ever happen to the country/world?
Answer: NOPE AND NOPE.
Question: Why is that fair to do to Emma Gonzalez?
Answer: IT’S NOT.
As Ricky Gervais says quite often in his most recent Netflix Original standup special “Humanity”
“I shoulda left it…”
But I didn’t. I fed the troll. I pointed out this egregious error in the meme he had shared. I pointed out this comparison to my “Friend”.
Over the next hour, he spouted off the following barely coherent/literate responses:
- He called her a bitch. I pointed out you really shouldn’t call someone a bitch just because you disagree with them… So you see the type of person we’re dealing with here…
- He insisted that he was a good guy with a gun. I believe this exists, but I’m not entirely convinced of this particular case, seeing as how he could barely create coherent thought processes in response to the slightest criticism.
- He inferred Emma Gonzalez was an actress. I didn’t know what to say about that… I mean, REALLY?!
- He said that the FBI had known about the Parkland shooter, and had given him the green light to kill 17 high schoolers and injure more. At this point, I was dumbfounded that someone could really buy into this bullshit.
- He told me that it didn’t surprise him that I didn’t understand the 2nd Amendment. Which I wanted to point out was created at a time when it took a minute and a half to reload a gun with a single shot. Which I wanted to point out states a “well-regulated militia” of which he is NOT. So who is it that really doesn’t understand the amendment?
- Then he said, “Ignorance really is bliss.” Inferring that I was the ignorant one, of the two of us. (I laughed)
- He made a truly remarkable (sarcasm here) statement saying, “I would have run in there and shot that sonofabitch, and you would have been a cowered [sic] and hid behind a desk.” Because we’re all SOOO sure of how we’d respond in a time of crisis, right? I’m reminded of a certain Gilderoy Lockhart, Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts in Harry Potter:
- He was adamant that the government was going to come for his weapons, and that when they did, he’d be ready. To which I responded, “I’m sure the Parkland shooter would agree with you.” which I knew would probably go over his head, and it did, but it made me feel good to say. At any rate, these kids [not just from Parkland, but from all over the WORLD] are not asking for this. This is not what ANY of this is about. It’s all about reevaluating assault rifle availability. It’s about greater screenings for ownership. It’s about more hoops to jump through, so to speak, for ownership and licensure. It is not, I REPEAT NOT about complete elimination of all firearms.
And then, folks, he went where he shouldn’t have. He said:
“I feel sorry for your child.”
I told him there was no reason for a personal attack. We were just talking about the current state of affairs in our country, right?
But I was upset. He’s talking about my unborn child who I hope to raise in an open, understanding, educated, warm and loving home. My unborn child who I hope to raise as a kind, strong, gentle and openminded individual. My unborn child who will eventually form their own opinions and thoughts and draw their own conclusions. And so I got personal. I called him out for a few of the kind and generous things I had done for him while we’d known each other in Florida. And then I called him an ungrateful shit. (Yeah, I know… When they go low, we go high… But you see my side of it, right?)
Then he went on to infer that he never needed or asked for any of it. And so I said, “You’re so far gone, it’s sad. I’m done.” and I defriended him.
And then I cried.
But M and I discussed it all. He supported my stance and ultimate purge of this person from my life. But more importantly, he assured me that it’s so hard to be an inherently good person, but that it’s so incredibly worth it. He told me that he looks up to my innate kindness every single day. That this is a source of inspiration for him. (And I cried some more…)
So, folks, the morals of this story are:
Don’t feed the trolls.
And no matter how hard staying kind can be, and even if you slip up once in awhile, it’s ok, as long as you’re doing your best:
Stay Kind. ❤