Tag Archives: mean people

No Meanies Allowed!

There are bad people in this world.

Really bad.

Then there are people like this, who are just demented and cruel, who enjoy inflicting emotional pain but would never have the balls to get physical about it.

Long story short?

“How it started depends on who you ask.  It escalated into frequent calls to police and personal protection orders against the Petkovs.

Besides posting disturbing photos on Facebook, the Petkov’s painted their truck with tombstones and placed a coffin in the back of the truck.  The truck was parked in front of the Rose family home.  The Petkov’s claim the truck is a decoration for Halloween.”

(From the Ron Savage  MyFoxNewsDetroit.com report that originally broke this story wide open.)

The Petkovs are the “nasty” neighbours. The Rose family includes 7-year-old Kathleen Edward, dying of Huntington Disease, daughter to the now-dead-from-Huntington’s Laura Edward (passed at age 24), and grand-daughter to Rebecca Rose, the owner of the home in question.

Now the Petkovs apologize. Sure, now. I don’t care how it started, there’s no justification for doing that to a dying seven-year-old.

That’s nature for you.

There are people like this out there. That’s reality. In the wild, mothers sometimes eat their young. It happens: Cruelty.

But it’s not the only thing that happens.

There’s more people out there who are sickened by this behaviour than those committing it, and it’s up to you to decide which group it is that gets your attention.

For every news story like this (and it IS “news” because it’s not typical, doesn’t happen often) there are dozens of stories of small but amazing acts of kindnesses that are being randomly committed upon every landscape on earth.

We are, in general, good people. We do, on average, help when help is needed. And, because we do, it’s technically not “news” often.

Sure, we fall apathetic and get distracted in our lives, but we usually jump up when the times require us to do so.

The reality out there is, violent crime is at its lowest levels in anyone’s memories.

Personal crime seems to occur less frequently, too.

Volunteerism is escalating.

Awareness on all sorts of issues has grown astronomically.

You see what you choose to see.

You’re surrounded by what you want to be surrounded by.

When you hear about stories like this, try to remember also that there are people who will go to amazing lengths to help strangers.

Every day, little kindnesses unfold, everywhere — not just the big stories, lots of little stories.

If you think the world is worse off, then what are you doing about it?

Just complaining? Feeling depressed? Giving in to your feelings?

Shut off the news. That’s your first problem. Read the news; don’t watch it.

Then, do something. Anything.

Buy someone on the street a lunch.* Every now and then I’ve got $5 I feel like spending on someone who looks legitimately hungry, and it’s the best money I spend all day when they appreciate it and genuinely smile.

But it doesn’t make the news.

When I make small talk on transit with what seems a lonely old person, their day brightens, they smile. That doesn’t make the news. When I see a parking enforcement officer down the block and some rundown car with an expired meter and I pop a quarter in to help a seemingly unwealthy person avoid a ticket, that, too, does not make the news.

They’re little things. It doesn’t take a lot to be kind in small ways.

Brightening another person’s day can often lift YOUR mood too.

There will always be people who don’t appreciate it. Sometimes the bought lunch gets scoffed at. You can’t SEE a meth or crack addiction right off, so you never know. Maybe the old person I get talking to is totally toxic and alone for good reason. It happens.

But when it works outweighs the fails.

It keeps me believing in us.

It keeps me respecting myself.

It keeps my focus on who we can be, not who some of us have devolved into.

And that’s how I prefer to think, the way I prefer to see us.

When it comes to how we are as a society, perspective is everything. Our history hasn’t been written yet, and you are not inconsequential in how it will unfold.

Good/Bad, you see what you want to see. Be the change you want. Live the cliche.

At times like these, the saying “pick your poison” has more relevance than ever. The happy “We Can Do It” juice, or are you more a “Life Sucks and Everyone’s Mean” on-the-rocks kinda person?

Choose. Then live it.

*Get high-calorie stuff.
Homeless folk generally don't have "vegan" tendancies, FYI.
Just sayin'.

Office Life: Thar Be Meanies

In Virginia, there’s an esteemed literary magazine called The Virginia Quarterly Review.

There, an editor has committed suicide, and the Review has been shut down amid a new investigation that the suicide was as a result of workplace bullying and harassment.

I found the story fascinating on a couple levels.

Photographer unknown.

One, there’s a strange perception, I think, that these sort of things don’t happen in intellectual/cultural offices, and I think this sheds light on the reality that people can be mean fuckers whatever their aesthetic tastes.

Two, it continues the realization I’ve had since reading William Styron’s Darkness Visible years ago — that is, to be literary is to be predisposed to depression and potentially suicidal tendencies. The “Overthinky Syndrome” comes on something fierce when one is closely aligned with literary pursuits.

Three, I don’t think we really give enough weight to mental health on the job when it comes to the people around us.

A few years ago, as I was descending into the darkest depression I’ve ever had, I was working at an office where I felt put down and distrusted daily. It was a very difficult environment to work in, but I had no choice, I’d run out of employment insurance and had to take something.

Given my declining emotional state, I didn’t really trust my feelings — maybe I just felt like shit. Maybe I was misreading the things said and done around the office.

One day I was sorting through papers and found legal documents relating to a case involving one of the company’s principals and the province’s labour board. Apparently there were allegations of psychological abuse by the company’s principal, made by former employees.

I suddenly felt a little vindicated. It wasn’t just me, this person actually was kind of mean and cruel.

A year later, I was working for another employer who would mentally beat me down now and then because I wasn’t sacrificing myself for the job like she was. (I don’t own the company, woman, and I was told it was 9-5, not 55 hours a week, and I was getting paid for 40. Liars.)

I know what it’s like to have the opposite kind of bosses, too.

I’ve had a lot of employers who’ve been people who stopped me from doing negative self-talk, who told me how valued I was. I’ve had a lot of luck working for good people.

There’s a world of difference between going to that kind of job, where a bad mood is just part of life’s occasional fluctuations, versus one of the jobs where I’d be lucky to make it through a day without some mocking, blaming, or guilting kind of assault happening, where a bad mood would spiral into dread about returning the next day, and more dread about enduring five full days in a row with no escape.

One of the reasons I want to be self-employed is, the good people I was working for are in a precarious part of the film industry and job security is a thing of the past. I’m pushing 40. I could’ve handled that uncertainty in my 20s, but I can’t anymore.  I can rely on myself, though.

Another is, my last experience looking for work landed me in both of the above jobs, and I do blame both experiences in part for the depression I then spiralled into.

I also credit them with making me ANGRY enough to change my life.

But some people don’t get to reach angry.

Some people get beaten down day after day, told they’re stupid, useless, and lucky to even be employed. Management puts hurdles before them they’ll never overcome, and the economy ensures more hurdles.

The hopelessness of being stuck in jobs like that, in the face of an economic climate like we have now, it makes sense it’d be driving people to suicide.

And our dearly departed editor? Well, there’s not really a growing market for literary review editors, is there? If he felt trapped, if the university was looking the other way on complaints just to avoid controversy, if daily badgering and emotional assaults were happening, if he was your typical overly-analytical literary genius, then… tragically, it does compute.

Workplace bullying is as bad as childhood bullying, if not worse.

At least when you’re a kid there are potential adult figures who might ride in and save you from bullies.

When you’re an adult, there’s a veneer of judgment that comes with admitting you’re being bullied at work. Most reactions are along the lines of “Suck it up” or “It’s just a job” or “Hey, just three days till Friday! Chin up!”

When a job becomes your jail, you try shrugging it off. One can logically think “Oh, it’s just a paycheque”, but there’s a toxicity that comes from being exposed to these people on a day-in, day-out basis.

Like a river can passively wear down even the strongest of rocky terrain, just running over the same ground day after day, so too can a person’s soul and spirit erode.

When I quit the job that had me working daily for six months just 10 feet away from the most toxic, negative, and belittling woman I’ve ever known, it took me more than a year to start finding the positivity and hope in myself again — the things I said were just nothing like the person I used to be. That negativity changed who I was.

And I’m a pretty strong chick.

That was six months, just six months of being broken down by intimidation and judgment and belittling.

What about others? How far does that daily treatment go, how much worse does it become over time? How deeply does it seep?

This kind of treatment isn’t business as usual.

It shouldn’t be overlooked.

Employees should have greater rights about how they can expect to be treated, especially if they’re performing good work and delivering results. (Some useless fuckheads who don’t care about their jobs or quality could use a little yelling at, but all within reason.)

If this was just another unhappy Wal-Mart or McDonald’s or city-sanitation type job, the story would’ve been dismissed. “I’d commit suicide if I had that job, too — har-har.”

But all this guy had to do was read and write for a living. These were literary people, they had soul and the ability to communicate well.

And yet, here we are.

Cruelty and harassment knows no boundaries. There is no class distinction. Intelligence isn’t immune to meanness.

We’re supposed to be a kinder, gentler society. Maybe now we can stop with the lip-service and get on with the reality of being better than our predecessors.

People are People: Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Come morning, everything always changes. New. Nice. No fuck-ups yet. Yesterday’s badness has fallen away, but it’s left me in thought — not surprising, given I dig thinkin’. And here’s the thinkin’ it produced on humanity in general.

Sometimes we get unfortunate reminders of just how far-ranging humanity is. Good people, bad people. Ugly-ass people.

It’s like that moment from the creepy ’50s sci-fi movie where the scared teen boy looks in the camera and whispers, voice shaking: “We are not alone.”

A popular poster of a reliable friendship.

People bring out the best and worst in each other. We feed or flounder off whatever is projected at us. Here on the interwebs? Hoo-whee! We get schooled but good on humanity here.

Anonymity is the greatest thing to ever happen to cowards.

Some people thrive from hurting others, get adrenaline from it. We shake our heads and mutter “I don’t understand.” But what’s there to understand? They’re nuts.

There’s crazy then there’s The Crazy, as my bi-polar friend says.

It happens. Hate happens. Shit happens. Life happens. It happens.

One of the haters from this past weekend sent a bunch of extremely personal emails to the presenters, using our open lives to launch their attack.

I won’t indulge the meglomaniacal jerk’s wish to get limelighted. There’s a reason I moderate comments, his will never be published.

Stupid fuck, as if. Waste yer time if you like, pal — no blogspace for your hate!

But, boy, it reinforces my thinking on people.

I’ve always been that person who knows, if I have five REAL friends when I die, I’m a lucky gal. Most folks just walk away. That’s reality.

Trust me. Wait until life gets hard. Most people will walk. The ones who don’t, they’re keepers.*

The best thing that can happen to you in adversity is to find out who’s real and who’s not. At least then you’re on sure footing. Look at the lemonade you’ve made from those lemons: Now you know who’ll take bullets for you.

And don’t kid yourself, you’ll be surprised when the sieve of life separates the real friends from your illusory ones. It’s often not who you think it’ll be that makes the cut.

Here’s what I know: Good people assume most people are good. Sure, they are. But, the bad, they take up more real estate in our lives.

Have you ever heard the saying about retail, that 80% of your customers take up 20% of your time, but the other 20% take up 80% of your time with their bullshit? That’s kinda like people in real life, too. That 20% of people really know how to dial up the angst, betrayal, lies, and fear.

That consumes us, it takes over. If we let it.

Most people in life have serious flaws. Just remember that. Remember your own imperfections.  Most don’t have it in them to give “true” friendship to more than a few people. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make their cut.

You’ll have a few real friends in your life. But not many.

Welcome to Realityville.

Hey, your dead-body-removal crew should never have more than 6 people in it anyhow. That would make it too difficult to kill those who know your secrets. Too many to bury in your average backyard. Hardy-har-har.

But, seriously, it’s true. There’s only so many people you can rely on. Everyone else, sooner or later, will fail you. Most fail in small, meaningless ways, but sometimes in huge ways. We dismiss the small failings, but they should serve as indicators for The Bigger Things, because some chances hurt too much to take.

That penchant for flaws is not some price we pay in modern life. People have always been flawed. We just like to dupe ourselves into believing everyone has our moral code.

But they don’t.

And we act all shocked when we see this. Really? You didn’t suspect dickheads roamed the planet? Nazis? Killers? ZOMBIES?

I’m really not surprised some asshole spewing vitriol has emerged from this weekend. I’m only surprised they’ve been sitting around making notes for months, trying to create a destructive picture of who we are out of snippets we’ve revealed. Oh, yeah, there’s a healthy life.

That’s what I’m surprised about. Takes a special knack to be this pathetic for this long.

The rest of it, it’s just life as usual. Like great writers say, betrayals come in love and war, and every other time of year.

I’ll smile and chat with most people, pass a few moments in their company, but when the crunch-time comes, I know they’re not who I’ll be calling.

When the word comes down, handshakes are exchanged, tallies added up, I remember: I never would’ve called them for that dead-body haul anyhow.

Would those you’d call still come when asked?

Then you’ll be just fine. Forget the rest. Seriously.

*And people walk for myriad reasons, not all of which deserve your judgment. Sometimes our own battles don’t allow us to be there for others. We have to make our choices. Don’t take it personally all the time. Take it for what it is: Revealing who WILL be there. Don’t judge too harshly those who can’t be.

Hurting Kids By Protecting Them

I actually am somewhat empathetic with the “pro” stance on this issue. People are mean. Many folks have thin skin. Protecting the weaker is what the stronger should do. But at what cost? So, when in doubt, I say educate and don’t overly interfere. Read on.

_____________

Hey, I know what we should do.

We should make people scared of things. Like, you know, social media. We should demonize the medium instead of putting responsibilities upon the user. We should say that, because bad things sometimes happen, everything in that realm is therefore always bad.

Because that’s worked with everything else.

Like rock and roll. Or sexy books. Cable television. Elvis’s hips.

If Anthony Orsini has his way, his high school’s students won’t have any freedom or privacy when it comes to social media, if they have access at all.  New Jersey’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School principal sees social media as the beginning of the downfall of civilization if the students keep at it in Facebook, Twitter, and phone texting.

R u srs? I rly dbt it.

As the principal explains in his email to students’ parents:

I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don’t want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.

I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cybersafety together at wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge.

The principal makes valid points in his email. Cyber-bullying is insane. Just yesterday I witnessed supposedly intelligent, kind adults being complete dicks to each other over, get this, child care, on Twitter.

Yeah, humanity’s capable of ridiculous things.

And the internet is a portal to all of them.

Abso-fucking-lutely.

Which is precisely why we can’t say “NEIN! NO NET FOR YOU!” to our kids and then just open the floodgates when grade 12 rolls around and the real world comes a-knocking at their door.

How crazy that’d be — all of a sudden hurtled into the all-too-real world of the internet, with its predators and fuckheads and petty people and madness — at the 16 or 18, if entirely sheltered and uber-patrolled by parents who want to bubble-ize the world so their precious kids never, ever get hurt?

Until, of course, they become adults and go out in the world all by themselves. Boy, talk about your culture shocks. Talk about mindfucks. It’s not preschool out there, folks.

Prepare your kids for the Real World by letting ’em get hurt the way nature intended: In high school.

Speaking about nature, did you know some medical journals have been running stories about how we’re doing damage to our feet by wearing these hyper-engineered running shoes designed to protect our feet and soles? Super-padded, ultra-complex sneakers. It’s the anti-Chuck’s All-Stars.

Know why we’re supposedly damaging our feet with all this protection? Because the added support interferes with the spread, support, and reach a foot should normally have on its own, so lesser inner muscles are now rendered unused. Deemed somewhat inconsequential when you look at the whole of the foot, these “bitty” muscles are actually to skeletal structural integrity what a stud is to a building’s stability.

So, we have more foot injuries than ever before.

BUT, HEY, that’s okay, ‘cos we’ve got this awesome new Nike shoe, dude! And it’s pretty.

Increasingly, trainers are proposing barefoot training as part of an overall fitness regimen, to help create better overall strength.

Take away the excess support and the support becomes unneeded because strength increases.

Sounds like some of the 15-year-olds I know could use a little of that therapy.

Nowadays, a “social networking crackdown” for the “protection” of kids is like putting them in a bubble or over-engineering shoes — you’re just making ’em more susceptible when they hit the real deal without all your safeguards.

There’s a reason we don’t let socialized animals return to the wild from shelters — they’ll be mincemeat! Why do we insist on doing it with our children?

Know what life is?

Hurt. Pain. Achievement. Failure. Love. Joy. Accidental. Surprising. Mysterious. Unpredictable.

But it sure as fuck ain’t safe.

This safety-drive’s fucking up everything.

We decommissioned the Hubble telescope because it was “unsafe” for astronauts to work on it. In space. Where astronauts are supposed to work. These aren’t cable guys — safety wasn’t a job requirement for them. “Flaming rocket hurtling into space? Cool. Sign me up. Ooh, oxygen deprivation? Cool!”

We put rubber on playgrounds so kids would stop falling — LOL! — and hurting themselves. Now they just burn the shit out of themselves when they fall on the scorching rubber in the dog days of summer. Protecting equals hurting, oh, ironic! Who knew!

We have labels on coffee cups telling us the hot coffee we just bought is hot. On my planet, if you’re too stupid to know this, you don’t get a label.

You know what?

Stop it.

Get hurt. Get over it. Animals do.

We’ve taken the Darwinism out of human existence.

We’re fucking pathetic.

Educate children. Teach them what a predator is. Empower them to band in groups if it gets them through. Intervene when kids are being dicks. Make examples of bad behaviour.

But don’t tell me the only way to be safe is to stick your fucking head in the sand and pretend the real world isn’t there.

I say teach kids the dangers of the real world, because the dangers will find ’em anyways. I say give ’em slingshots and full-fat ice cream.

Whatever it takes, this wussification of the modern kid has got to stop.

______________

Seriously, though?

Remember Columbine?

What if Klebold & Harris had been on Facebook? Would the worst massacre in American high school history have occurred?

And, just, you know, as an aside?

Have you seen these numbers? Note the advent of the Internet’s use by the general population, starting in 1994, and the numbers of school massacres since? Declining every year.

Your fragile children? Safer than ever. So, back off, mama.