Emotionally fuelled vitriol

(This was originally posted to Facebook. I post here because I want to keep a copy where I can easily find it).So… the last 12 hours have been … interesting, judging by my inbox.

Just to be clear no-one close to me is a complete and utter nutcase who believe that a fun and harmless game about a song really killed a pop star. There are a few people on the fringes of my social circle who seem to be of the opinion that our “negative vibes certainly contributed to his decline in a cosmic way” (direct quote).

But the game did have far greater reach than I had anticipated (more than 120.000 people visited the website during the last three weeks), and when something tragic happens, the backside of that reach rears it’s ugly nasty head.George Michael wasn’t old by modern standards. 53 years in all. My mom is older than that. Your mom is probably older than that.

And he’s been not only a pop icon but also a forerunner for LGBTQ rights. He was a hero to that community, and the loss of a hero always hurts. That pain is real and it will often make you behave emotionally and with anger, as you try to find a reason or justification for the loss. A way to explain away the hurt and the sorrow. And it’s always, always, always easier to manage grief when you have somewhere to place the blame.

But sometimes that grief and pain also lead you to become a nutter. And on the internet where anonymity is easy to come by and it’s even easier being an asshole because it’s just text on a screen, and not a real person … well, the vitriol flows freely.

Here’s a short selection of the things I have been called in the last 12 hours, in no particular order:

  • a murderer

  • neo-Nazi

  • a gay basher

  • dogfucker (O.o)

  • a part of the NWO

  • a compound-dwelling kook (I kinda like this one)

  • a bible thumping ignorant (Hah!)

  • a knuckle dragger

  • sexually insecure boy toy

The common denominator is that behind most of these messages and emails I see a tiny bit of grief and sorrow. A searching for a place to put a loss that they might not fully know how to deal with. And if being angry with me for a few days makes it easier for them to bear it, well, I guess that’s going to be okay, too.

It would be a lot worse if I were to get DOX’d or Swatted because of this, but that would mean that 4chan or #gamergate suddenly felt sympathy towards the LGBTQ community, which in that case I’d be fine bearing the brunt of as well.

Right now, it’s just words on a screen from people who are upset and distraught.

A lot of you have written me and expressed support. Thank you. It means a lot, because even though it might just be words from random strangers it’s never nice to be told to go stick your head in a wood-chipper for the sake of humanity.

It has been demanded that a public apology be made, which is not going to happen because of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.

Now, it’s obvious to anyone who knows me that you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger sucker for sappy and glorious pop music than me (though the 90’s are my preferred decade). George Michael was a musical staple in my childhood home and I fondly remember dancing with my mother to many of his songs. A mom, who by the way, introduced me to the awesomeness that is G’n’R and Bon Jovi.

If you don’t mind, I’ll go put on some pop music, and boogie around the apartment while I get dressed for Christmas lunch with my family later today.