If you want an example of how NOT to react when someone teases or mocks you, the prickly spoilsports at Think Progress have written this article.
They didn’t do it intentionally. But it’s the perfect demonstration of what bullied kids always do wrong: take themselves waaaaaay too seriously.
From the very beginning, the author gives a clear indication that she lacks a sense of humor by explaining (with an awkward air of importance) how trolling works:
““Learn to code” is a linguistic dog whistle. To the uninitiated, it makes absolutely no sense; but to the target, it registers with perfect and cruel specificity…”
Uh…have you ever heard a more pretentious way of describing “teasing?”
Seriously–journalists are being teased. That’s it.
Roughly 1000 writers lost their jobs last week. And, instead of being sympathetic, some trolls have been (sarcastically) telling them to “learn how to code,” which the trolls view as a more marketable skill than their old roles in producing “fake news.”
And, honestly, when Chloe Angyal tweets stuff like THIS, how can she not know how funny it is?
A PhD IN ROMANTIC COMEDIES? Is she serious?
I mean, does she really think people are going to pass her resume to all their friends looking for an opinion editor?
So, yes, Glorified Bloggers are being laid off, and they have become the butt of many jokes.
But, still, rather than return with jokes of her own, the author of the Think Progress article only drones on and on about the “sinister” and “threatening” memes with a painful seriousness:
“Brigading is an online harassment tactic. [It’s] a means of rallying troops that typically begins in some of the far-right friendly internet forums…
There, would-be harassers are armed with the meme, hashtag, or language of the attack, which they then direct toward a target on Twitter or Facebook. “The goal is, essentially, to drive [the victim] off the internet or make their life miserable,” said Taylor Lorenz, a staff writer at The Atlantic covering internet culture. “To make it harder for them to do their job…”
“Brigading” is a fancy term for “trolling.” And anyone who doesn’t know this already has no business being paid to write things for the internet.
Trolls TRY to get under your skin.
Bullies say things that are intentionally upsetting.
How in the world can anyone make it to adulthood without learning how to handle that stuff?
I’m going to make this a simple as I possibly can:
When someone is taunting, teasing, or mocking you, the last thing you should do is write a 3000 word essay announcing, “WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!”
You’re actually giving the Meanies legitimacy when you react with horror and anger.
Wouldn’t you like to learn how to laugh it off?
For anyone who may be interested in a much better way to deflect mean words, let me introduce you to Brooks Gibbs.
He makes a living teaching “social and emotional workshops” to kids in schools across the country, but his lessons are good for any age.
When people are laughing at you–there are two options.
Try to stop them.
Or find a way to laugh with them.
…but only one of those choices actually works.
The Think Progress article demonstrates that certain journalists (like all humorless individuals) are afraid of being the butt of a joke.
They give fancy terms to the joking (like “Brigading Campaigns”) because it really does feel to them like they’re being attacked by an overwhelming army.
Emotionally weak people are SCARED of the power of memes, because they don’t have the ability to return the laughter.
Not knowing how to take (and tell) a joke is like seeing a canon come rolling up the street toward you, while you’re holding a squirt gun.
The writers at Think Progress decided to squirt a few tears at their ideological enemies, but the result was just uncomfortable…and ineffective…and worthy of MORE mocking.
Humans will NEVER be able to fight laughter with fear. Their feeble response only fuels the groups who are laughing at their expense.
(And, I’m sorry, but writing 3000 words about the danger of the phrase “Learn to Code” IS laughable… in an awkward kind of way.) Joy, fun, and humor are more powerful. Thus, people with senses of humor will win those cultural battles every, single time.
Journalists are correct to say they’re being “attacked” by Twitter users who have “weaponized” a phrase. They are being overcome by something they cannot fight against…unless and until they learn how to “weaponize” laughter, too.
The final line of that article is just as weak and tragic as the rest of it:
“The internet is truly a horrifying place for a journalist right now.”
–Someone Who Doesn’t Know How Mockable That Sounds
It’s probably true. But, unfortunately for this woman, the internet isn’t the only dangerous place.
The entire WORLD is a horrying place for anyone who hasn’t learned how to handle being the butt of a sophisticated joke. If they see that people are piling on with a hurtful jab like “learn to code,” will they keep reacting exactly like the bullies want them to react?
Or will they learn from people like Brooks Gibbs how to rise above it?
Here’s my advice, for those who are absolutely terrified of being mocked:
Learn to laugh.