There is a lot of meanness on the web. I’m not talking about the random trolling I used to encounter on the Facebook feminist groups (weird guys who would respond to your every argument with “well, that’s because you’ve been brainwashed to think that way”), I’m talking about the gathering together of like-minded people. “Huh?”, you say? Let me explain.
There’s an old adage that bullies were usually bullied themselves, and while this is easy to see in the school playground, it’s not as obvious in real, grown-up life, until you start spending time on the internet. The web’s ability to demarginalise those on the fringes of popular culture has created fun places to hang out and discover that you’re not alone, whatever those people at school tried to tell you.
In the early days, those who spent time socialising online were a rare breed. You’d start to tell someone a funny story that you’d heard in a forum but stop yourself so you could quickly fabricate a non-geeky source so that they’d laugh at your story and not you. It made for an atmosphere I can only liken to the Gorgonites in Small Soldiers – a rag-tag bunch of slightly odd-looking people, but always friendly and welcoming.
Then, as online socialising exploded, cliques began to form. Now that you can find people who share your love of anything from West African philately to obscure Swedish electropop, anyone who has felt marginalised is able to pass on that lovely feeling to someone else. A new type of snobbery seems to be raising its ugly head as people fall over themselves to have a life that’s “more unique” than anyone else’s. FYI – I am aware that there is no more or less unique. There is unique or not. Unfortunately, this means that uniqueness takes you back to solitude, so people turn it into a sliding scale.
The wedding world is one of the worst. I’ve encountered – and quickly unsubscribed from – a number of wedding blogs that repeatedly sneer at the decision to wear a traditional wedding dress, get married in church, have a wedding cake – the sort of thing that normo-type people might have at their weddings. A great way to let people know exactly who is not welcome. When a fabulously talented photographer’s work was trolled recently, readers took the opportunity to reinforce the “we’re such outsiders” label with such comments as “they probably just want a nice dollop of blandness and a side dish of same old same old”. What kind of world do we live in where quality is not permitted to be commonplace?
Even if a blog is positive, it can occasionally attract a cliquey bride, whose description of her Big Day entails “we didn’t want this… we didn’t want that…”, referring to all sorts of things that you can guarantee someone reading really wanted for their wedding day. There are practically competitions to see who can have the smallest wedding with the fewest attendants and the lowest budget, because clearly if you invite lots of people you’re just trying to make up numbers and… the worst thing of all… “be something you’re not”.
In two weeks time, I plan to brush my hair, put on a frickin’ gorgeous dress and tell everybody in church just how much I love my man. That’s not “me” – I’m a scruff; I’m such a nervous public speaker that I’m actually developing a stutter, and I never wear pale colours because I miss my mouth constantly. If someone is the same every other day as they are on their wedding day, then they’re either a really exciting person, or it’s a really boring wedding. I can just picture it – and now, Mr and Mrs C are now going to sit and watch Sons of Anarchy, while simultaneously IMDBing all the actors they sort-of recognise from somewhere else. (As an aside… Don’t do that. Jackson is so hot until you realise he’s actually English and that irritating boy with the mockney accent in Green Street. He has now left my fantasies forever).
Then there are the healthy/ethical foodies – the bloggers are the sweetest girls you will ever meet, but there are commenters who compete to be the most puritanical about their food. It conjures up in my mind the Two Ronnies and John Cleese sketch, only where John Cleese is the fruitarian, looking down on Ronnie Barker’s vegan, who looks down on Ronnie Corbett’s vegetarian.
Ever act like a bit of a slob when you’re on holiday? One chap pipes up with “what a shame about your friends who eat dinner at 10pm, wake at noon, and eat pizza for breakfast… I feel sorry for them.” No, really, don’t. We love it.
I realise that I’m going to have to change my title to Becca Rants if I carry on down this vein much further, so I promise to perk up and live up to my original positivity purpose a bit better. In the meantime – I have resurrected my Twitter account! Please stop by and say hello – I am @littleacceb. Alternatively, leave your Twitter name below and I shall follow you!
Finally – I thought I’d share an old snap from Christmas 2004, of the place where my Dad currently is… Moraira, Spain. Lucky sod.