Trolls

“It blows my mind to think that ‘LOL’ is probably spelled differently in Spanish.” –Me

 

It doesn’t really blow my mind; that was just an attempt to be funny on Twitter. My little snippet was tantamount to verbal diarrhea. It’s an interesting thought though, because most of my Spanish followers type “LOL” at the end of their Spanish tweets even though the acronym is clearly English. Technically, they should use “RAC” for “riendo a caracajadas,” but whatever. I guess our American shorthand is insidious enough to infect other languages.

 

But after I tweeted the above mentioned nonsense, a troll came out of nowhere and responded by saying “you have a very tiny mind.” Of course he immediately blocked me so I couldn’t respond, you know, because he’s a real man. And it pissed me off because I wanted to post something supper witty like “I know you are but what am I?” but his hasty departure robbed me of the chance. So I looked through his tweets because anybody who could so flippantly insult me should have some badass wit, right? Here’s the first one I found:

 

“I’m all for reparations if it will get black people to stop saying ‘nigga.’” –We’ll call him “Mike”

 

Holy shit. How does one say “OMG” in Spanish? I guess I was wrong. Mike turned out to be a fat-ass ineffectual fuck-tard as opposed to the witty guy I was hoping to find. But that’s usually the case with trolls. In case you didn’t know, a “troll” is anybody on a social media site that intentionally insults something you say to make up for the fact that they were born with an innie instead of an outie (you know, down in their pants where it counts). These walking penises usually hide behind a fake profile picture to minimize the backlash from their offensive comments, and that’s exactly what Mike does.

 

You know, I’m finding it really hard to be pissed at this guy despite his assholeishness because he’s got some serious style. I bet the inside of his trailer is uber pimp.

If I had to guess, I’d say that Mike suffers from clerk’s syndrome. Man, “Clerks” was a great movie, and it taught me a good deal about human nature. Just in case you’re not familiar with clerk’s syndrome, I’ll fill you in. Basically, gas station clerks develop a certain amount of resentment towards customers over the years. They eventually begin to look down on them despite the fact that most of their customers do more for our species than your average gas station clerk. The customers are doctors or teachers or educated professionals. Yet they all look the same to the clerks who talk shit about them as soon as they pay for their burrito and leave. Customers can be annoying with their repetitive complaints and quotidian bullshit, and ultimately, the high and mighty clerk realizes that they’re better than the sheep that ring the hallowed bell on the gas station’s front door.

 

You see the same thing with the “geniuses” at the Apple Genius Bar, and with the “geeks” on Best Buy’s “Geek Squad.” They deal with the average Joe so often that they start to think that the average Joe is beneath them. I had one of Best Buy’s Geeks get pissy with me because I had questions as to how I should apply the screen protector onto my iPad. How dare I bother him with something so trivial! The snide little bastard rudely answered my questions and never realized that I make five times as much as he does, or that he had reached the pinnacle of his existence.

 

I have no idea what Mike does for a living (it probably involves the bathroom at a truck-stop) but I know clerk’s syndrome when I see it. I usually ignore the trolls on twitter because I know what they’re doing. They’re reaching up out of their pit and trying to pull me down into their negativity where all the petty little people live. I usually ignore them, or respond with positivity when I’m not blocked, but today, I’m going to take Mike’s hand and let him pull me down into his bullshit to see how the lesser half lives.

 

Mike, here’s the response I would’ve given you had you not blocked me: I know you are, but what am I? RAC!!! If I was sitting next to you at the bar when I said what I did about the Spanish LOL, would you have told me that I have a tiny mind in person? No. You would’ve said it to yourself, or mumbled it into one of your chins because you, Mike, are a pussy. It’s easy to be brave behind a fake avi and say things about other races. It’s easy to insult and run, so stop congratulating yourself, because you’re not nearly as profound as you think.

 

Mike runs a YouTube channel that features short, animated videos staring an octopus with a unicorn horn. It’s pretentions as hell but I have to admit that his work comes close to art. Some of his videos have even had as many as five-hundred views. I don’t like the videos, but maybe that’s just because Mike doesn’t like my tweets. I can be pretty petty when I set my tiny mind to it.

 

And in truth, I’m not really being fair to Mike. It’s just that I’ve encountered a few trolls this month and I’ve grown tired of their antics. Usually, they do it for publicity. You see, I have well over eighty-thousand followers on twitter, and if a troll can bate me into a back-and-forth volley of insults, all my viewers get to see it, and then maybe the troll gets a few more followers of his own. It’s a rather sound tactic when you think about it. I know I’m not supposed to let it get to me. I’m supposed to remind myself that I have a bulging intellect (wink, wink), an abnormally well-paying job, a healthy family, and a damn good life. I’m supposed to let a troll’s idiocy bounce off of my confidence and go about my day. But it’s hard. No matter how secure you are, a stranger’s insults still sting a bit.

 

Some tweets are more susceptible to trolls than others. If you ever talk yourself up, those furry little assholes come running. They want to bring you down because it’s easier to look up at those above you with a derisive sneer if you have someone standing next to you. And if you ever tweet about working out, watch the fuck out. You might as well walk over a bridge like a Billy goat gruff and prepare yourself for a full on troll invasion. My wife once said something like “twitter is a place for assholes to be even bigger assholes and to be accepted by other assholes.” It’s not entirely true, but it’s close.

 

I posted a picture of the weights in my home gym last week, and about five minutes later, another “artist” troll immediately responded with something like “oh wow! You go to the gym! Who fucking cares!” He even used a hash tag which is the social media equivalent of drooling in the middle of an insult thanks to inbreeding. So, just like I did with Mike, I looked at the troll’s pictures. Surely this guy was going to have tons of artful pictures that’d put mine to shame, right? Nope. There were hundreds of pictures of women’s shoes that he’d painted. He was trying to sell them via his art blog. I guess it makes sense that a grown man who finger paints women’s shoes should be able to insult a man who works out. Err… um, actually, no it doesn’t.

 

But I get it. I’m pretty sure that Cross Fit is actually a cult, and all the pictures of people doing pull-ups are a bit annoying. However, two years ago, I was coming close to weighing 220 pounds. I looked like… well, I looked like a younger (more attractive, better dressed, not so fat) version of Mike. I took steps. I started dieting and working out like a psycho and lost more than sixty pounds. I’ve since been putting on muscle. I can see my abs. I can run 5K races. And frankly, I’m damn proud of it, so of course I’m going to post the occasional picture because they chronicle my achievement. If you don’t like it, don’t look. Hell, just un-follow me.  I don’t say snarky shit when you proudly display your foot fetish, so you should keep quiet when I talk about something healthy. It just makes sense. In this specific instance, I replied that I was too big of a pussy to go to the gym, and that I liked the shadows in the picture so I posted it. The troll laughed and erased his comments. I killed him with kindness; he still follows me.

 

My point in all of this is that there’s really no point in being a troll. You’re not scoring any points or affecting any change. I know for a fact that my wife is laughing her ass of right now because I’ve posted my share of smug idiocy, but I’ve been trying not to. All these little comments trolls leave are permanent. They’re little electronic ripples spreading out in the wake of their insults, and even though the hurt is small, it still exists. A troll’s legacy is a virtual epitaph that reads “here lies an asshole.” You can only play devil’s advocate for so long before you’re not “playing.”  But I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything else, because I constantly spout my nonsense like an asshole into a place for assholes to be even bigger assholes. Trolls just come with the territory.

My Gym

Monsters in Vegas

I felt pretty good about the fact that I was in better shape than anybody else in the gym right up until the sixty year old transvestite walked in and put us all to shame. The dude was ripped. He had twice the muscle definition as I did and his boobs were bigger than my wife’s; I have a solid six-pack and my wife is a girl so it was pretty impressive on both fronts. And I knew he was a he as opposed to a masculine she thanks to the skintight grey leotard he was wearing. I suppose he could’ve been smuggling a water bottle or something but I doubt it. He walked in with his argyle socks and ballerina shoes and looked around the gym trying to figure out where to start. He had permanent make up and a grey topknot and no fear whatsoever. He stretched and then started throwing a fifty pound dumbbell around as if it were a paperweight. I shrugged my shoulders and thought “Well, this is Vegas. What did you expect?” I went back to my pull-ups and didn’t think about it anymore. There’s nothing wrong with being the second buffest guy in the gym even if number one is twice as old and wearing a sports bra.

 

I finished my workout and headed back up to the room to meet my wife and children to plan the day. As a side note, if you would’ve walked up to me five years ago and told me that I’d go to bed early in Las Vegas so I could fit in a six a.m. workout, I would’ve accused you of being retarded. Things change. My wife and monsters were awake so I told Terra about the tranny just to make early morning small talk but then I heard my oldest daughter laughing at the story, and that’s when it hit me; I voluntarily brought both of my daughters to Vegas. All of the women in my family were on spring break; one from Montessori, one from middle school, and one from college, so we’d decided to load up the car and drive the eight hours to sin city just for the hell of it. But now what? Questions would arise, and thanks to my anti sheltering policy, I’d have to answer them. I just wish it didn’t have to start with a conversation about what I meant by “smuggling a water bottle.”

The Strip

We headed out, and about ten minutes into our trek, one of those shady but silent men on the street tried to hand me a small brochure advertising the best “escorts” in Nevada. Seriously? I’m not sure exactly what we were looking for that morning but it definitely wasn’t prostitution. Maybe the dude missed his orientation at whore-business-card-handing-out-school but I’m pretty sure a thirty-something year old man walking with his wife and two daughters isn’t in the target demographic. I kept walking and for once, my oldest and most ridiculously observant daughter didn’t see anything so I got to avoid our first conversation about “really bad choices.” But it came about a mile later.

 

The bums came out around ten a.m. and started plying their trade. Some were busking with harmonicas or guitars, others proclaimed to be veterans with camouflage coats as evidence, and some relied on creative signs: “Too ugly to prostitute; too stupid to steal.” I almost gave the last guy five bucks just for his proper usage of homonyms and semicolons but we just walked on by. My oldest, Catelynn, wanted to give a rather jovial bum with a guitar and a bandana something so I gave her a couple bucks. Why not? She ran over and put the money in his hat with a smile and he said “Thank you pretty lady! Stay in school or you’ll end up like me!” then he looked over at me and said “You’re welcome!” I thanked him and we continued on. I started chuckling because somehow, I had just thanked a bum for letting me give him money. The next day, we walked by the same guy a little after ten thirty a.m. and he had already drained most of the forty ounce beer in his hand. It was cheap and wrapped in a brown paper bag because I guess he’d felt the need to reinforce a stereotype. I turned to Catelynn and said “See? You bought that man a beer.” I could see the wheels turning behind her frown.

 

It wasn’t fifty feet later that we passed by a bum in a leather vest that had track marks and needle sores all over both of his arms. It looked as if he moonlighted as a cactus wrangler. My daughter stared at him and his bedraggled sign that simply said “please help” as we walked by and then asked why I didn’t give him anything. “Would he just buy beer too?” I asked her if she noticed the sores, and I knew she had because her observation skills are almost creepy. She said yes, and guessed that maybe he’d walked through a swarm of mosquitoes (she frickin’ hates mosquitoes). I told her exactly where they came from, and that every dollar that went into his coffee-can would end up in his veins. She didn’t ask to hand out any more money for the rest of the trip.

 

I was still thinking about heroin so I didn’t notice the bikini-clad flamingo girl that was running toward us. She bent over to look into my stroller and in a dulcet voice, she asked my youngest, Kinley, for a high five. She was spangled in sequins and almost falling out of her top so I’m sure it’s a mammary Kinley isn’t going to forget. Kinley gave her a tentative high five and the flamingo girl bounced along her way giggling “welcome to Las Vegas” over her shoulder. Great; now what? Should I sit my children down on the curb and explain the pitfalls behind daddy issues? Should I take Kinley to the clinic and get her disinfected just in case?

 

The entire trip was like that; good, but awkward. We took the kids swimming every day after our forages and if I didn’t watch out, I’d find myself swimming with both of my monsters in a manmade lake of twitterpated douche bags. We’d be wading and splashing and minding our own business, and then be inundated with a wave of pheromones smelling slightly of coconuts and Bud Light. There’d be a group of men to one side doing a line dance in the pool (I shit you not) and a group of women to the other giggling way too loud and doing their best to still pull off bellybutton rings. The DJ would shout “to the left to the left to the left” as the bass pumped and I’d do my best to get my daughters to the tiled shore before they’d be swept under by the riptide flowing out from the mating rituals.

 

Our children started suffering from sensory overload pretty early in the trip. We’d take them to see sharks and jumping dolphins and albino tigers; we went to carnivals, we ate and shopped constantly, we rode roller coasters and watched light shows. But as soon as we’d get back to the room, the kids would start pacing and staring at the confining walls like inmates on death row. “Dad I’m bored. I don’t think I can sit here anymore.” Jesus. But I guess that’s what Vegas is designed to do: continuously funnel the guests through a turnstile of constant consumption. And that’s what we did. Terra and I aren’t big gamblers, we only blew two hundred bucks (half of which wasn’t ours), but the three day trip still put me back about two grand. So be it. The lesson Catelynn learned via someone else’s track marks was worth every penny.

***

Anyway, I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00704HK6Q If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AYRAXNI

Monster