#293 In which our hero helps his wife enter a contest thereby exposing some of his lesser qualities. Pt. 3
When we last left our hero, his wife had just lost the contest.
My wife was devastated. She had worked so damn hard on this contest. She cried and cried.
I was furious. Furious that cheating had won the day, not effort. Furious that the people running the contest over at major horse feed manufacturer HAD to see what was going on, but did nothing to fix it.
During that last, horrible week I vented a good deal of my anger and frustration on EXTREME SICK. I wrote pretty nasty things on her posts, still anonymously. I called her a cheater. I said she didn’t deserve to win. I called her a coward when she refused to publish my comments.
It was not my finest moment.
But, I walked away from all the bullshit once the contest was over. There was no appeal, nothing to do about it except try to comfort my wife.
But then. Oh, but then.
EXTREME SICK wrote a snotty post on her personal blog about how she wished horse people could just be nicer to each other, and how she tracked the IP address of posts to learn that one of her competitors was posting nasty things to her blog (EXTREME SICK thought it was The Scientist posting, not me) and oh, woe-is-me why can’t we all just get along?
This completely flew in the face of the confrontational posts she had made during the contest and was clearly nothing more than her rubbing my wife’s face in her victory.
So I commented on EXTREME SICK’s shitty post, using my real name this time. I told her that I knew she had cheated her way into first place, and hoped she was proud of how smart she was to suss out my real identity from my IP address. I also told her that I had an intense dislike of her; a visceral reaction that struck me when I saw her very first video.
I also told her that I was walking away. There was nothing I could do to sabotage her victory, and I wasn’t going to try. I was done.
That is, I was done until her husband emailed me the following day.
He used my work email, which I suppose he though was threatening in some fashion. I wasn’t impressed. I mean, I can use Google, too.
He called me names and was basically an arrogant prick. He said that I could “make this all go away” by apologizing. There were some veiled threats, even though I’m not sure what he had planned. Tell my boss that I bad-mouthed a woman online? Try to hack my credit report?
The ironic thing is that I was sincere about walking away from the whole thing. Until I got this email. I responded in kind, reiterating that I knew he cheated for his wife (funny, but neither of them ever denied this) and that he needed to drop the bullshit posturing because he didn’t intimidate me and wasn’t likely to any time soon.
Basically, I prepared to go to war.
Now, I have to say I can’t really blame the guy. He was defending his wife. I get that. I would have done the same thing. But threatening me, even is a round-about way, was more than I could bear.
Then I told my wife about the exchange, and things got REALLY ugly.
She was angry at me. Not, not angry, enraged. She told me she wanted to be done with this bullshit, that she had cried enough, and that I was just fanning the flames.
Fuck that guy, was my response.
She wasn’t happy with this. She demanded that I apologize immediately. She frankly pushed some buttons that she should not have. But she made her point.
I apologized to EXTREME SICK and her arrogant prick of a husband.
I emailed them both to express that these past few weeks weren’t me at my best, and it certainly wasn’t an accurate representations of who I really am. Worst of all, my actions cast my wife in a negative light, and perhaps made her seem like a bad person. That, I wrote to them, was unforgiveable.
My apology was heartfelt, even though I doubt they believed a word of it.
That done, I did walk away. I haven't read a word about the contest, EXTREME SICK's personal blog or anything that might get me fired up again.
Looking back now, I’m rather amazed at my behavior. I mean, I turned into the worse of Internet trolls, not something I would have expected from myself. It was driven by anger and frustration, but that didn’t make it any more excusable.
In a way, I’m glad it happened. I learned something valuable--it would have been great if I could have learned this lesson without having my wife’s hopes and dreams violently dashed like they were, but I had no control over that.
I learned that it’s waaay easier to turn into an abusive dick when cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet. This is no surprise to anyone who’s ever read a thread on just about any message board ever, but it had never happened to me. It was alarmingly easy for me to take on the role of troll. And when it was happening, I felt… not good, but empowered. Like lashing out could actually make a difference.
It didn’t of course. Not in any positive way.
But, I’m hopeful that next time the roles are reversed, as they surely will be some day, that I can step back and remember that the asshole at the keyboard on the other end of the Internet maybe isn’t a dick by nature, maybe he’s just so enflamed by something that he’s lost his mind for a minute.
Like I did.