My first trolls have come a’calling. A friend told me I should be proud because my message is getting out there enough to attract them. So, yaye I guess?
I have posted 15 times on Nightmares and Laughter’s Facebook page, topics including Mental Health Awareness Month, abuse, Close Encounters, regret, writing, etc.
I’m extremely open about my life, to a fault perhaps; I reveal a lot of personal information for the sake of an article. I knew at some point the trolls would shake the gummy worms off their fingers and start to mash their hands against their crumb-encrusted keyboards, and that was a day I was dreading.
So when I put together a quick post for Pride Month and wrote it to reflect the mission of Nightmares and Laughter, I figured it would be the one that would attract trolls.
I got an “Angry” reaction pretty quickly. Then another. It had begun.
This was inevitable, so I had already set up a policy for myself; I will not engage trolls. Period. Any ugly, irrational, or combative comments will be deleted.
Some shook their grimy fists, twisted their faces in righteous indignation, looked up righteous indignation, then accused me of stifling free speech and being filled with hate for other opinions, etc., the usual projection. As badly as I wanted to explain for the billionth time what the 1st Amendment is and is not, who can stifle free speech and who cannot (please, I beg you, look it up) I kept to my own rules and did not engage.
The spittle-spewing rage though did make me think that it’s fair to explain why I’m doing this.
Here is the page description on FB:
“Nightmares and Laughter is a peek into my life living with bipolar disorder. It’s a place to laugh together at life’s joys and absurdities, an occasionally painful, unflinchingly honest look at the struggle through my lens, and support around issues of addiction, abuse, and mental illness.
I also write about goats because goats are hilarious.”
I thought that was pretty clear. This is a place of support, which is why I include resources at the end of heavier articles. (There are resources on this one.)
It’s a place of laughter because that’s important.
And it’s a place of community, whatever you happen to call yourself.
You are welcome here, regardless of your political views and religion, as long as you keep things civil.
It is not, and it never will be, a place for trolls to poke at my readers or me and take cheap shots.
I will not engage with trolls, I will not allow others to engage with trolls on my page, even if I agree with them, because that is not what Nightmares and Laughter is about.
Am I censoring them? Yes. Yes, I am.
Am I stifling their right to free speech?
No. I am not able to stifle their free speech. Only the government can stifle their free speech.
Look, the LGBT community suffers hatred and violence to the highest levels of government. Transsexuals are told which bathroom they must use, they are accused of being pedophiles, they are forbidden to serve their country, they are murdered, because of fear and hatred.
Teachers are fired, doctors refuse to treat their children – their children – because there are two loving mommies or daddies. If you condone that, you do not belong here. There are appropriate groups on 4Chan for you to enjoy.
There is no “both sides” one some things, there is no compromise. How do you think we’re going to “discuss” the right to take someone’s freedom and humanity? Where do you think reasonable debate comes in? I will not “discuss” putting children in cages either. Some things are binary.
Given all of that, on a post about Pride Month, a snide and hateful comment can be dangerous. Not everyone lives in an LGBT accepting city like my San Francisco. Their religion may call them abominations, their families may have disowned them. They see a post telling them they are worthy of life and happiness, and then someone with serious pathological issues comes in and says something hateful. Maybe that’s the last straw, maybe someone breaks.
Maybe someone commits suicide.
I realize that the trolls do not care. I’m hoping to reach people in the middle who may think I’m being unreasonable and not allowing discussion.
I absolutely allow discussion. I welcome it. If someone doesn’t understand and comes into the comments on FB or this blog and engages honestly, I will too. That is also part of why I started this blog.
So, trolls have been banned, comments deleted. (A couple of those comments were hits at my City. Some people really need a hobby.)
My readers are important to me, my mission for Nightmares and Laughter is dear to me, and I will not let it be shit on by damaged people.
Sometimes I write when something horrible has happened, and those articles can be angry, but they are not partisan. Some things are beyond politics, or they should be. This is not a political site. It is not a provocative page meant to start flame wars. This is a place of comfort or laughter or movies or goats, but most of what I post has some underlying connection to mental health and/or addiction; abuse and trolls will not be tolerated.
The bottom line here is, I welcome you with open arms, as long as you’re not an asshole.
Here are some resources in case anyone needs them.
PFLAG Support Hotlines
The hotlines listed below provide services to callers across the country. If you’re looking for a local support network, also contact one of PFLAG’s more than 400 chapters in the United States.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Free, confidential, 24/7 support.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.