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October 2013

On People Who Respond To My Stress With Unfunny, Never Clever “Jokes”

If on Twitter I mention something that genuinely upsets me, some people turn into a “comedian” and think they are The Onion (fuck them) and so “clever” by engaging in whatever behavior/action I said bothers me. 

I mention that I saw a spider and hate spiders. People then fill my mentions with photographs of spiders with comments like "oh look, your favorite!" I mention that I hate when people modify my tweets and then put “RT” there as if I composed them that way. People then fill my mentions with fake retweets of garbled and even offensive stuff that I did not tweet, thinking that they are so “clever” for engaging in whatever behavior bothers me. I mention that I tire of people expecting me to be a 24-hour on demand opinion generation machine, responding to every link that people literally dump in my mentions like they just took a fact shit, no conversation, no "how the fuck are you doing;" just demanding an opinion that they can either use as their own because they cannot form their own opinions or because they’re looking for an attack dog and Angry Black Woman™ for hire to attack whomever wrote the article. People then fill my mentions with links with comments like "what’s your opinion on THIS link!" I mentioned the difficulty of being deemed overqualified for every job except professor ones where I am deemed underqualified while simultaneously rejected by programs to get the qualifications to be a professor and I receive responses such as "well does your mom want you?" since I discussed rejection. My mother is deceased. Why even risk this angle for a “joke?”

While the situations I described here might seem innocuous (they aren’t to me, at all), this is the stance that many people on Twitter take whenever I describe ANYTHING that causes me stress. I’ve had this "oh look how clever I am" bullshit happen in response to me talking about past corporate job stress, street harassment, online harassment and more. 

These are the responses from people who simply cannot handle the idea that I am human and I am not going to perform happiness for them 24/7. I don’t believe in positivity culture where I am not allowed to fully experience sad or angry emotions (or when I do, I am told that “angry” is my "personality" type) and have to perform superficial joy. Thus, they think being abusive and engaging in the exact behavior that I mentioned causes me stress is somehow supposed to “cheer me up” since they are being “funny” by being “ironic.” Why can’t I stay upset if I choose to? Further, why would more of what upsets me magically please me just because they say so?

Worse, these “comedic” responses tend to come from people who also think I exist solely as a learning portal for consumption for their race or gender camp 101. Thus, not only are these people often parasitic towards my tweets, thoughts, ideas, knowledge, writing and experiences on the regular, they are also engaging in behaviors that are abusive to me and invalidates my feelings and experiences. This becomes very noticeable when I talk about things that I experience specifically because I am a Black woman. So while my arachnophobia is something that anyone can experience, things like plagiarism (which disproportionally affects women of colour with feminist/progressive writing) and erasure, or street harassment (which also disproportionally affects women of colour) are topics where White and/or male “humor” are especially not needed. 

While one incident like this might not seem like a big deal, this happens EVERY TIME I mention anything from the smallest annoyance to the largest stressful problems to oppression itself. I am not exaggerating. At least two people do this to me any time I mention something that bothers me. As many as ten have on a particular problem.

And sometimes I send tweets about how I am feeling because honestly I want to talk to other Black women online. Sure, Twitter is public, but so is the mall. I don’t see anyone going from table to table and store to store interrupting conversations just to insert “jokes” where those “jokes” are simply restating the stress or abuse that the person detests. (Though admittedly for me, I cannot talk to Black women in public either without interruption from Whites or Black men.) Even when I directly tweet a Black woman who is a Twitter buddy about a particular stressor versus sending a general tweet, I STILL receive these types of responses from people who interrupt our conversation just to insert “jokes.” Lately I feel anxiety even trying to have a conversation online about anything that is a stressor on top of whatever anxiety I feel about the stressor itself. I was barely on Twitter yesterday as I was out all day with my youngest sister and having a great time. When I returned to Twitter, what awaited me was some of this very nonsense that I speak of, and when I rejected that nonsense, the same nonsense was sent in reply to the original nonsense. And this is not simply cracking jokes and having fun where my ability to enjoy humor (and humor is subjective; no one is required to find someone else funny) is questioned. These people seem to only reply to a situation of stress with these “jokes.” 

I am sick of it. This has become very stressful and causes a lot of anxiety. Oh and by the way, all of this abuse regularly comes from people who call themselves “allies.” 

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    strong piece “I don’t believe in positivity culture where I am not allowed to fully experience sad or angry emotions (or...
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