I’m not gonna lie: whenever I come across another writer on the internet detailing their crusade to abolish harassment and bullying across the globe, I experience this involuntary spasm between about the bottom of my nose and the top of my chin that makes a noise that sounds exactly like “fuck my life.”
I know, weird, right?
Here’s why I have a private hate fest in my head for these articles that emphasize that online harassment is tantamount to being a crime requiring swift, painful and public consequence by…the implied internet Justice System and site specific virtual law enforcement officers. Virtual cops? Who am I talking about?
This would be the targeted recipient of all the complaints about the harassment the author in question is demanding justice from. So, for every article I read about the plague of harassment, there is always a mention, albeit brief or book length, of appealing to some assumed authority for relief from the abuse suffered.
The harassment. The verbal violence. The unwanted communication from the undesirables. The cretins with labels attached like “misogynist”, “racist”, “homophobe”, “asshole”, and my personal all-time favorite catch all description “men”. Because, face it, “men” is a word that pretty much can say it all, am I right, ladies? Yeah. Fuck that. And, fuck you if you were agreeing with that.
This is where I am *not* going to say I am sorry about anything. I’m not sorry that some of you have had experiences with certain people…and I’m not sorry that we live in a society that …and I ‘m not sorry that you’ve had to suffer the pain of …I’m not.
I’m not going to say any of those things that get said because I don’t even know what the fuck it means to say that I’m sorry for something I can neither take responsibility for having done or being able to solve. And, I can’t figure out how my being sorry about what is going on inside another person’s mindscape could even be of any use.
Truthfully, I cannot even conclude that anything more than the suffering person’s perception has any skin in some games. And, life (my life, specifically) is too short and time (what remains available for me to use) is too limited for me to include in the mix of all the things I need to concern myself with the state of everyone else’s perceptions or the requirement that I validate them at every perceived slight.
Here’s my philosophical opinion about harassment: If an act of harassment happened in the woods and no one was there to see it, there was no harassment.
In other words, for harassment to exist, a person perceiving harassment is required.
If not a single person ever again decided that the words or actions they were engaged with were harassment, harassment ceases to exist. It is purely a mental construct. It is entirely subjective. That’s what constructs are: subjective.
As such, it is completely outside the scope of anyone else having any direct knowledge of what the concept means in the context of someone else’s experience. You can’t define it for me. Meaning, you can’t tell me I have been harassed when I don’t perceive myself thus and you also can’t substantiate my perception beyond what I say it is. You kind of have to just take my word for it.
And, don’t you all have things to do in your lives that require you spend time doing them instead of all the time being spent attempting to validate self-reported perceptions? Ok, someone has had their feelings hurt. Assuming that this someone has honestly reported what they perceive as hurt feelings, can anyone else see how unproductive this is? Seriously, this is regressive. Do you seriously raise your children to focus on their hurt feelings or do you give them tools and examples of how to process their internal ups and down in a way that allows them to keep moving forward?
We, as a society, have literally changed public policy because of self-reports of hurt feelings! Hey! If my feelings are hurt guess who is responsible for changing that? I am. They are my feelings. My impossibly subjective feelings that no one other than me can directly access, and therefore, have absolutely no power to change.
I hurt my own damn feelings because I choose to perceive what happens externally as doing so. I make this shit up in my head! Just like everyone else. So, why, why, why are we seeing this movement that insists on pretending otherwise?
I truly feel like we have all been tossed down Alice’s rabbit hole and are being held captive at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Then, when the crazy gets real thick, we all get herded over to the Queen of Hearts court of nonsense for some adjudicated absurdity.
If you don’t want feelings to be hurt, than stop hurting them! How? Stop choosing to internalize words that other people say. Stop making what happens in the world personal to your experience. Stop believing that words spoken by people you don’t want to hear from are viable threats to your well being. Have you ever notice that the same words spoken by different people yield very different perceptions?
That’s why it is inane to chase after this harassment demon. ANY ONE ANY TIME and for ANY REASON can perceive ANY THING, including that they are being harassed, and it makes zero sense to treat it as if it is an entity in its own right that can be destroyed.
You slay this dragon once. It’s your dragon. I have one, too. So does everyone else. I can’t get rid of yours and you can’t get rid of mine. We can’t be in each others’ minds. That is an irreconcilable fact.
It seems to me that at some point, it became normal to address whatever anyone asserts as their experience as having the same credibility as historical fact. And before anyone veers off into their treasure box of existential tripe scraped off the floor of what little understanding they could grasp of freshman year philosophy 101, I’m here to make the pointed assertion that for the purpose of this essay, history exists and facts are the stuff in that history that are tangentially real, true, whatever.
And, sure, our perceptions occupy a kind of space, but when weighed against those other things that are collectively perceived and can be quantified independently of the observer, perception should not be given equal standing.
In fact, it should be given the amount proportionate to exactly that of existing in one, isolated, and unverifiable environment–a person’s imagination. Real or contrived, that’s what every perception of harassment is: someone’s unique translation of events as they are processed through one person’s cognition and interpreted by the words spoken or written to convey the perception. It is entirely subjective. It does not exist independent of the person experiencing what they perceive as harassment.
I’ll go so far as to say that even if I intend with all my might and muster to use my words to verbally harass you, my intent being that after receiving my message you feel as though you have indeed been subject to harassment, if you instead perceive my words as something else that is not in your assessment harassment of any kind, it wasn’t harassment.
The target for the ‘harassment’ was apparently missed. Harassment requires someone to catch a ball, look at the ball and identify it as a ball of ‘harassment’. That same ball may get thrown to ten thousand people before it ever finds itself in the hands of a single person who, in their mind, sees it as ‘harassment’.
For some reason, it’s now the assumed truth that this suffices as reason enough to get rid of that ball. If it offends even one person (based upon what is subjectively stated as being true) than it is valid. This is how we validate one another, now. We validate other’s experiences by accepting them carte blanche, but even more, we validate them by insisting and campaigning that this experience be universally true for everyone, for all time and under all circumstances. Because life is just simple like that.
But, even allowing for this insane and untenable world view (good luck sustaining this ontological paradigm without falling into your own pile of dog shit), I don’t want to live in a society that thinks it’s laudable behavior to tattle tale when their feelings are hurt so that my rights to speak freely are policed by the zeitgeist mob like social miscreants running around in ‘neener neener’ t-shirts on their power trip to get someone in trouble ”’oooo you are sooo in trouble! Word Police! That person said I was “….” and that’s harassment! Make it stop! I am fighting for all of us, here, love you!!!!!!!!!!!!<hugz>”