A few days ago, I made the mistake of leaving a comment on an article shared by The New York Times. My comment was apparently offensive to some people, who claimed it was racist. You can read about what happened in this post.
Hours later, some twit from California chose to address me, even though the comments had died down ages ago. She proceeded to address me as “Susan”, “Karen”, and “Boomer”, again insulting me and calling me “self-centered” and “privileged” simply because I quipped that I get a lot of spam from people in India.
Rather than hauling off, calling her the c word, and advising her to go fuck herself, I decided to play along. When she called me a “Boomer”, I wrote “Shows what you know. I’m a member of Generation X.”
She then proceeded to explain to me what a Boomer is. Duh… I know what it is, dingaling, although as a child of the 80s, whenever anyone mentions “Boomer” to me, I think of this…
Then she addressed me as “Susan” and “Karen”. I told her that she should be learning a more respectful way to address her elders. She bowed out after that, but I was left thinking about what had just transpired. First off, I’m not sure why my comments merited being insulted. It’s a statement of fact that I get spam from people in India, even though their government keeps shutting down their Internet. There’s nothing racist about making that statement. It wasn’t even a complaint. It was a matter-of-fact observation. But it was fun enough to spar with some of the butthurt on The New York Times’ Facebook page when the comment was fresh. It killed an hour or so.
Naturally, “Lacey” from California had to come along and harass me some more. There’s one in every crowd, don’tcha know. And she didn’t even have the decency to be funny, original, or astute in her insults. For some reason, she felt compelled to rely on unfunny memes that have turned the names “Becky”, “Susan”, “Chad”, “Sarah”, or hell, “Hildegard”, into insults. I did some Googling and discovered that people have actually written articles about this phenomenon of co-opting common names of people of a certain age and using them as insults. Incidentally, two of my sisters are named Becky and Sarah. I also have a sister named Betsy, which is probably also being used as an insult by some empty-headed dipshit out there in Internetland.
You know, that might have been super funny when it first started. Obviously, some people think calling some random person “Karen” or “Susan” as a way of insulting them thought it was freakin’ hilarious at some point. But now, I’m afraid it’s become a cliche. And I’m here to advise you all, dear readers, that it’s time to up your game and come up with something more original and clever. Otherwise, why bother?
In the end, I probably did alright in advising Lacey that she should show more respect to her elders. I generally don’t enjoy being condescending and rude to people, even when they are being insulting and rude to me, but maybe that would have been a good time to say something along the lines of, “You know, dearie, if you’re going to start up a dead comment thread on The New York Times, you really should try to do better with your put downs. I’m sure that somewhere in that smog filled head of yours, you can come up with insults that haven’t already been passed around like a plate of hors-d’oeuvres at a cocktail party. Why don’t you take a time out from hanging out with the big people posting on The New York Times and work on your insults? Stop wasting my time with your unoriginal foolishness.”
I fear that the Internet has really made people less civil than they once were. I am as guilty of it as anyone. I get pissed off at people who pick fights with me for dumb reasons and feel tempted to indulge in insults… although I usually vent about it on my blog, rather than in a comment thread on Facebook. Sometimes the people on The New York Times are so stupid that I do tell them so… but it’s rare that I give into that impulse, because there are enough insulting people out there spreading meanness. It’s better to simply vent on my little read blog– especially now that I’ve moved it. But I’m not even safe doing that here, though…
I wish I was one of those people who is naturally sweet and nice. Deep down, I am a good person and I always try to be kind first. But unfortunately, people really irritate me, especially at certain times of the month. I still think that it’s stupid to insult people by calling them generic names that were once popular. Please don’t do it. Come up with something funnier, wittier, smarter, or even just original. Calling people “Becky”, “Boomer”, and “Susan” is just non-sensical. The joke– just like that comment thread on The New York Times– is stale. Effective insults require good timing, just like good jokes do. So don’t be a “Lacey”. Grow up, evolve, and come up with some wicked jokes of your own. The Jennys of the world will thank you for it.