Update 01.09.13: A followup blog has been posted and can be found HERE. Please only read once you’ve read the following.
i’m back from NYC. the purple rain new year’s show was fucking phenomenal. pictures & clips forthcoming.
i also got food poisoning on the 2nd, the night of mine & neil’s 2nd anniversary (yay us!).
he got food poisoning, too. it was the oysters.
we spent the night puking together.
i was on the internet tonight doing what i should never do (but i do sometimes do when i have time and “the nomi song” isn’t on netflix).
the google hole.
i was ego-surfing. i was very saddened to see that the first google result that came at me for amanda palmer news was the scathing (and i mean SCATHING) new yorker blog that some very angry dude wrote about me, basically calling me a fake communist who was “scraping the last dollar off the hides of the desperate” during the musician kerfuffle. i’d go back to make sure that quote is 100% correct but i can’t re-visit the article, it’d just make me pissed. and i feel like i owe the dude no fact-checking favors, he called me a folk singer. anyway. i did something, and i don’t know exactly what possessed me to do it, but i did it. i typed “hate a…” into google. i was going to type “hate amanda palmer” into the rest of the field to see what came up, but google auto-filled for me. it auto-filled “amanda todd”.
“who is amanda todd?” i thought.
probably an actress. or a teen celebrity girlfriend of justin bieber.
these are the types people who people typically like hating.
i googled her name to find out what kind of celebrity she was.
she’s not a celebrity. well. she is now.
this is she.
she’s an ex-15-year-old girl who became specifically famous for leaving a sad, desperate youtube clip behind before taking her life a few months ago.
i was on tour, i missed the news. but maybe it’s easy to keep missing the news when kids are killing themselves left and right.
here’s what tore me apart, though.
this. the video, which is a story about how she was bullied to suicide:
what killed me was the fact that she would have made that video and scrawled her story on those cards right around the exact same time i was doing the exact same thing. only i wasn’t killing myself.
i was doing this:
the poetry of this is not lost on me.
i wish i’d found her.
here’s the thing that really does astonish me.
i’m 36, a weathered, war-torn musician, heavily schooled in zen and compassion and love for all beings.
i have FANS. i have an ARMY of people i can go to for love and support, on and off line.
and still…internet hatred pointed in my direction can TEAR ME APART.
it did its work on me this past fall, while you all watched.
what the FUCK must it be doing to teenagers who don’t have the support network?
the worst i got in high school was ignored. occasionally yelled at in the hall.
bitch. slut. druggie. lezzie. freak.
it hurt, it always hurt. but i wore it like a badge of honor and repeated my standard teenage “THEY ARE NORMAL AND THEREFORE INFERIOR IN EVERY WAY” mantra and kept walking down the hall.
but when i got home, it was over. i could mull, but i couldn’t go on facebook to continue to get battered. i couldn’t google my own name to see what my score was on the great love-hate report-card in the sky. i could make and listen to music, read books, watch TV, and call my few friends on the phone and talk about nothing in particular until we got too bored to keep talking (or until someone in one of our families yelled at us for hogging the phone).
i was, more or less, safe.
i have no discipline, nowadays, when it comes to devices and the internet, and it terrifies me.
neil and i actually talk about this sort of shit a lot and have become a little support group of two.
mostly the support group consists of sternly saying “DON’T READ THE TROLLS!!!” and “PUT DOWN THE COMPUTER AND COME TO BED!!” to one another….and so on.
it terrifies me more to imagine what i WOULD have been like if i’d grown up without ever knowing what it was like to be disconnected from everybody.
to have a reprieve. from the good, the bad….from the story. at least i was formed off the grid. maybe i wouldn’t have made it. who knowwwwws.
so, anyway….i tweeted.
lots of good conversation resulted, along with the standard outpouring of grief there was the teacher in texas who mourned the fact that she can only provide literal and figurative band-aids and no official solutions for the high-school girl who’s being bullied and cutting up her arms, the gay boy from the south who thanked me for being a freak to look up to, and a lot of “THANK FUCKING GOD HIGH SCHOOL IS OVER”.
i made a joke that i should quit my day job and start an online course called “how to be hated with grace on and off the internet”
“what would the first class focus on?” someone asked.
“how everyone is afraid, not just you” i answered.
so for my next blog, or as soon as i can gather it all up, i’d like to start off by saying:
“dear amanda todd (RIP), dear phoebe prince (RIP), dear amy pond who beats me in the google search for ‘i hate am…’ by just a few notches, and dear every other person, young or old, who is out there dealing with hatred, bullying, and other forms of evil coming at you.
but especially dear teenagers being bullied, dear musicians being torn down by pitchfork/brooklyn vegan commenters, dear artists and content creators who have critics of any kind. dear all y’all…..
here are some tips for survival.”
and lord knows, i haz a few.
i might even do it in the form of a “top twenty things to bear in mind when dealing with hatred on the net”.
before i write this blog, i want some input.
and i actually do hope a blog like this will do some good, and even if one artist/teenager/sufferer out there sees it and it helps, my job is done…..so i don’t want to just poop it out tonight while i’m tired and weary and besides, the backstory of all this isn’t that important.
ask me some pointed questions or tell me your own strategies for dealing with internet hate.
i want to hear your stories, and more importantly: your coping mechanisms for dealing with everything from evil youtube commenters, facebook stalkers, bad reviewers, and if you’re lucky enough, new yorker journalists who slam you for being a fake communist.
i know…you can choose not to look, but i keep learning: the hate lives where the love lives.
oldest story in the book: same coin.
how do we run around on the vast field of the internet without being crippled and disfigured by the landmines of hatred that are waiting under every shrub, while still managing to sow the seeds of love, art and awesomeness that blossom ever-greenly?
please inquire within.
then hit me in the comments.
love in the new year,
p.s. if you’re reading this right now, i’ve since posted a follow-up blog…part 2. it’s HERE.