“Guilt trolling.”

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As regular readers know, I am a follower of the political website Democratic Underground. And if you participate in any online community, you know there is usually a high incidence of “trolls.” For those unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines a “troll” as “someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” You know the type: we run into them in the three-dimensional world too. Nothing you experience is anywhere near as profound, tragic, or traumatic as something they are going throughor someone they know of is experiencing. A shit-stirrer, as my dad would say.

Now, in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy, there’s been a marked increase in what’s being referred to as “guilt trolling” on DU. An awesome DU’er by the name of GA YellowDog posted something so profound about this that I will post it here verbatim. Don’t be a guilt troll.

– –

Already seen it.  You know guilt trolls.  Whenever you’re feeling sad or upset about something, they’re there to remind you that someone somewhere has it worse, so you should feel guilty about your feelings.

If you’ve lost a foot, they’ll tell you someone’s lost two.

If you are paralyzed from the waist down, they’ll tell you about a quadriplegic.

If you’ve lost a pet, they’ll tell you about someone who’s lost a parent.

If you’ve lost a parent, they’ll tell you about someone who’s lost two.

You get the idea.  If you send your meal back at a restaurant, they’ll tell you how people in x country don’t have meals to send back.

If you’ve just lost your job, they’ll tell you about someone who’s been out of work for a year.

Lost a child?  They know someone who’s lost two.

Do you have cancer?  They know someone who has three different types.

Had the flu?  They know someone who died of a worse variant.

Had a wreck?  Well, you’re lucky you weren’t decapitated like this other person.

And if you’re horrified at the bombing in Boston, well, they’ll tell you that the same kind of carnage is happening in Pakistan.

Yes, it’s the truth.  No matter what happens to you, it’s a sad truth that someone somewhere has it worse.  But you know what this person is doing to you when they remind you of that someone worse?  When they try to make you guilty for your pain, or your grief, or your sorrow?  They are telling you that you basically don’t have a right to feel the way that you do.  They are devaluing your emotion.  It is a terrible thing to do.

Yes, carnage is happening in Pakistan.  It’s happening with drones that have our country’s name on it, from our country’s military.  The idea that the majority of people on DU support it is ludicrous and offensive.  The idea that we went into the voting booth with drone slaughter in mind is ludicrous and offensive.  The idea we support the killing of innocents, especially children, is ludicrous and offensive.  You need not remind this board of the horror or the carnage half a world away.

And it has nothing – nothing – to do with how we should feel about the bombing in Boston.  If you want to feel sad, or angry, or upset about this bombing, you have every right to do so.  Another country’s pain does not cancel your country’s pain out.  Another person’s pain does not cancel your own out.  Tragedy over there does not cancel tragedy over here out.  You have a right to your grief, and horror, and pain about Boston, and no one has any right to tell you otherwise.

And to those of you who have already guilt-trolled:  I know you don’t have the decency to stop devaluing others’ feelings, but couldn’t you have at least waited until the bodies cooled?  Even a troll should know when to stay under the bridge.

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