Don’t Be a TwatWaddle

Yesterday there was a posting on FaceBook about Tom Cruise’s mom who passed away either yesterday or the day before. It was a standard story, picture of the two of them together. I saw the first comment had hundreds of likes so I glanced over it and immediately regretted it. It was just one snide sentence after another decrying just how little he (the commenter) cared about some asshole like Cruise losing his mommy. I went on to read a few more comments (stupid, I know) and was flabbergasted; they were so nasty and belligerent I had to re-read the original story to make sure I didn’t miss something. I read closely to see if maybe he said he was going to puree her remains and sacrifice them to the Gods or something. I found no such trigger in the story.

The comments were just unprovoked assholery. People were gleefully taking the opportunity, actually making concerted effort, to turn what is arguably the saddest time in a person’s life into a reason to berate the carrier of that sorrow, all because of his choice of religion. Somehow they rationalized that being a Scientologist means you don’t deserve empathy but that you do deserve scathing mockery even when you’re facing your deepest pain.

The comments went as far as attacking anyone who did muster up condolences, saying since he doesn’t believe in God and not a Christian, he doesn’t get nor care about condolences. This went on to berate his movies, his height, his relationships and predictions of him burning in hell. (Ironically, the majority of these people doing the worst of the attacking inferred to believing in God and be Christians. Some may be surprised to find themselves burning in the same hell they think Cruise will be in).

Anyway the story struck me because it was just so foaming-at-the-mouth disgusting! I’m not naïve; I know we see it a lot online. People play courageous behind the safety of their keyboards, unable to be punched in the eye so they say things they’d never say to anyone’s face in reality. But I feel like for the past year we have reached a tipping point in which no story is off limits, death of blameless people included. At the same time, there are less and less people like me –people saying stop being a dick- and more and more acceptance, joy and chiming in of the darker side of humanity.

Innocent stories about nothing –a potato farmer in Idaho or something — gets turned into something demeaning, racist, prejudiced and biased in the comment sections of the stories. Sometimes they get so bad, the host has to close comments to stop the nonsense. It only takes one person to start it and before long it’s like a pack of wolves on a wounded rabbit. If a person doesn’t care one way or the other about something, why not just ignore it? Isn’t that what we do with things we don’t care about? I don’t understand the pleasure derived from being an asshole but it’s definitely something more and more people are engaging in and it’s not a good look; not a good feeling to live in a world full of sharp edges and coldness. Common decency is not old-fashioned.

I’m not even getting into the who is to blame or at fault or when or whatever. It doesn’t matter at this point. I’m just saying, if you are reading this and you’ve found yourself engaging in the bullshit online bullying and mockery, stop being a twatwaddle. We have plenty of those without your participation. It’s time to go back to the basics of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

It’s time to stand by the behaviors we try to teach our children to live. After all, when today’s youth get older, they will be in charge of our elder years. Do we want a bunch of assholes, like many of us are being online, in charge of our livelihood, care and quality of life when we get old? I don’t think so let’s stop it before we teach our kids that it’s okay. Be nice or at least, be quiet.

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