Sticks and Stones

Last night I was reminded just how cruel kids can be, even when those kids are 20-something years old.

I’ve recently discovered the phenomenon that is ( If you haven’t heard about it, don’t worry. Most people in there are 12 – 23 years old, with a handful of 24 – 29 year olds thrown in for good measure. The only criteria for enjoying is that you like music…A LOT. It’s a great way of hearing new stuff; radio edits of anything are heavily discouraged.

I’ve also recently signed up for a Twitter account. During the blackout last week, updates from San Diego Gas & Electric were sent via Twitter, as were updates from local news sources. Since cell phones were our only access to news and the rest of the outside world, Twitter and Facebook were the only means of receiving any word about the blackout. I didn’t have a Twitter account at the time so felt a little out of the loop. I signed up for one the next day and followed all of the news sources and city/county/state resources I could think of and find. Consider it part of my emergency preparation for next time.

Part of setting up a Twitter account is creating a 160-word description of yourself. In light of everything fueling this website, my description was “East Coaster living in San Diego, trying to balance my job as an accountant with my passion for rescuing dogs. Remembering to laugh at myself often and dance whenever the mood strikes.” If there’s nothing else I’ve learned in the past 3 years, it’s the importance of not taking myself too seriously and laughing at myself when warranted. Maybe this is something a 20-something wouldn’t understand, just due to lack of life experiences, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a 40-year old to express this philosophy, as cliché as it might seem.

Last night these two online worlds collided in a way that reminded me of elementary school, and left me feeling much as I did back then.  I was on, chatting away with the other people in the room. At the same time, I was on Twitter, reading tweets and checking to see who Twitter thought I should follow. (How nice of them to make recommendations. Pfft.) I realized that one of the recommended people was also in the room I was currently in, so I clicked “follow.”

Within 30 seconds, in the chat room, this person said “if i see one more twitter status about dancing for the joy of it i’m going to vomit.”  I knew immediately she was talking about me, that was just too coincidental to be anything else. The other people in the room were asking her what she was talking about and after a considerable pause, she copied and pasted the entire second sentence of my Twitter status and posted it in the chat room. And let the skewering commence. “Good thing you laugh at yourself because we’re damn sure laughing at you” was one of the least mean messages they posted in response.

I was instantly transported back to elementary school, when I didn’t really fit in with anyone. I dreaded going to school every single day because there was no telling what cruel things the other kids were going to come up with to say or do to me that day. I clearly remember the ache in the pit of my stomach, the yearning for a friend, for just one person who was in my corner. Instead, I was told “you’re not popular enough to be my friend.”

I was definitely an awkward ugly duckling who blossomed late in life. As a result of putting all this weight on, I’m back to feeling like an ugly duckling. The words of the kids in the room last night felt exactly like the hurtful words of my classmates, and I was once again that 8 – 11 year old girl with no friends and an aching heart.

No one in the room, I don’t even think the girl who instigated this skewering, knew I was the person being thrashed. I don’t know how she wouldn’t know, my user name and my Twitter user name aren’t that different, but I want to give her some benefit of the doubt that she wouldn’t have done that if she knew it was me and that I was right there in the same room.

I also have to remind myself that these people are in their early 20’s. I have no business hanging out with them anyway, even virtually. But I like the music, and the same people tend to congregate in the same rooms each day, so you do tend to feel like you’re getting to know someone on a very superficial level.

All I want to do now though is crawl in a hole and hide. Just like when I was a kid. “Words will never hurt me” my ass.

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