Moving on

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Screenshot 2014-11-14 at 5.17.56 PMSo last week was definitely an interesting week. Now that some time has passed and I’ve been able to talk to a bunch of people to get their take on my former coworker trolling me on the internet, I have a better handle on the situation and a sense of how I will use what I’ve learned moving forward.

I talked to a lot of people about the situation and most said to just ignore him. They said that I should definitely let him know that I know what he is doing but then not waste any more time on something that is clearly more of a problem with/for him than it really ever was or could be with me.

One person that I reached out to with was Melanie Curtin who penned a very well-received piece for LinkedIn, entitled, “I was Sexually Harrassed. Here’s How I Responded.” When she was spoken to in an inappropriate manner, she turned to the abuser and told him exactly what he was doing. She named it and he slinked away in shame. She also provided this guidance:

When something like this happens, you are not the one at fault. Fear and shame and guilt like to live in the shadows; they start to die under the light.

So name it. Even if just to yourself at first. Say what is happening. Then say it aloud. Then say it loudly.

So I wrote to Ms. Curtin asking her about ways to strengthen your voice and how to be unyielding in what you tell people to fight back against abuse. I can’t print Ms. Curtin’s response in entirety because I didn’t ask for her permission and I don’t want to broadcast the entire message. However, I’ve picked out bits and pieces that I thought were most helpful to share.

First and foremost, she gave me this compliment– which I very much enjoyed:

First off, you’re a brilliant writer! I loved your piece and laughed aloud several times. I really liked this: “you have a grace period by the end of which, you should have your shit together.” Clever and insightful.

I never thought that my post was offensive (I’d asked several Millennials their opinions and no one raised a red flag). And it made me feel happy to hear someone say that there was value in my committing my thoughts to “paper,” if not for depth of insight then for perhaps a chuckle to someone here or there.

She acknowledged that this is a tricky situation, adding:

It sucks that this person is targeting you, and he seems like a real {mean guy}.

So ok– she used another more fitting word than “mean guy” to describe him, which I’ve taken out to preserve her integrity. But yes, my former coworker is definitely a {mean guy}.

She went on to say that she gets a lot of comments to the pieces that she publishes and some are from haters. She said that I need to assess my personal safety in deciding whether to escalate but that there is personal benefit to not “feeding the troll.”

In other words, haters are gonna hate. Which gives me license now to share my favorite GIF. Haters gonna hate so you gotta just stroll on by.

i3onxhee-tShe also included a comment that I think is applicable to everything in life:

Sharing my truth is the only thing I have control over; others’ reactions are outside of my control.

And I think I’m going to end this post with thoughts on this statement: that I was in no way at fault and I didn’t deserve the hatred that was spewed my way by this incredibly cruel human being. I am going to continue to share my thoughts on this blog because my friends and loved ones have told me that they enjoy reading my posts and because, darn it, I like writing them too! I am going to keep the comments section open because I believe in open discourse. People don’t have to agree with me but I want to hope that the comments moving forward are critiques of my thoughts and not hyperbolic assessments of my character.

I will also be honest that this whole episode confirms my decision to distance myself from this individual as well as others in his coterie nearly one year ago. I will admit that I tried to trash talk this person to our shared contacts at the company but to no avail… because nobody was surprised at the depths of his nature. One person responded to me, “I knew that I didn’t like him. And now I have a reason.” So I couldn’t ruin his reputation with news of how he had behaved because he had already done it by himself through his own behaviors. This gave me a new level of faith that false facades crumble and that people are much more perceptive about others’ characters than they might let on.

I was actually invited to a happy hour a few weeks back that the abuser’s girlfriend would also be attending. I turned the invitation down and told the person inviting me that I wasn’t close to the woman and that I had made the decision not to continue to socialize with her. I felt kind of bad after saying that, as if I was overreacting. However, after this episode, I don’t feel that it was an overreaction. I know that continuing to distance myself from that entire group is the right thing for me. A former colleague also made the astute comment that it was only a matter of time before the abuser would turn on his girlfriend, saying, “A person who so gleefully mistreats others in front of you will only eventually turn his vitriol towards you.” Or if that doesn’t happen, it is only natural that you become inured to the cruelty and this thickened skin prevents you from being the most shiny and wonderful version of yourself (which you always deserve to be). I don’t ever want to see this woman but I do wish her well in her life.

So that’s it from me. Happy weekend everybody!

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2 thoughts on “Moving on

  1. Kevin Yes THAT Kevin

    I think you should tell him “Hey, I know who you are. You should stop writing mean things on my blog because you’re being a jerk.” (Don’t say you’re being a “troll”, I hate that word because it’s not specific enough… there are lots of different types of trolls).

    There’s a good chance that saying that will put an end to it.

    If it doesn’t, then you should tell his girlfriend what your friend is doing, so she knows he’s a jerk. She might not care, but who cares if she doesn’t? Or she might try to talk some sense into him.

    By this point there’s a really good chance that you’ll have stopped him from continuing to be a jerk. And by talking to him about it and pointing out how terrible it is, you might even help him become less of a jerk in the future.

    If he still doesn’t stop. Just ignore him. Delete any rude comments. Try your best not to let it bother you. Unfortunately the world has some jerks in it. And if you COMPLETELY ignore him without saying “knock it off” at all… then there’s a chance that it might never ‘click’ in his mind that what he’s doing is terrible.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Author

      Thanks for the comment, Kevin. I agree with you that hopefully this person can learn from this not to be such a big jerk. Those of us who knew the two of them at work started distancing from both of them nearly a year ago– primarily because his behavior made everyone so uncomfortable. If after this episode the two of them don’t acknowledge the negative impact that his behavior has on his and his girlfriend’s life, then I don’t really know what else to say. They are incorrigible.

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