I am going to open up an old wound to illustrate a point to y’all (it’s a 2 part): Internet comments can do real damage, and we need to find a constructive way to end it.

 

This has come about because of some asshats on Literoica’s forums (namely Queersetti and Sinny) but since this most recent instance is merely irritating, I want to go back in time and share with you an instance where forum comments derailed my entire fucking life.

 

It’s best to begin in 2004. My mother had died in 1998 when I was 17, and I’d transitioned into adulthood mostly following the images of women on TV/in movies, and my friends. I was never a girly-girl, I had never thought about my wedding or dreamed about it. My then boyfriend of four years took me out on my 24th birthday, and then demanded “Marry me,” between the meal and dessert.

 

I was conflicted. I’d always been commitment-phobic and marriage had never seemed like the best idea to me, but we were in love, and it seemed to be going fairly well. I stalled asking for a strong martini and then gulped it down. He pressed. He got loud and drew attention. I thought I might die of embarrassment. So, under pressure in a public place, I said “Yes,” with maybe only 50% conviction.

 

I spoke to my girlfriends, but we were all 24-27, everyone was getting married, and they told me my fears were just leftover childhood issues (my parents did go through a very nasty divorce that left an indelible mark on me). Now that we are ten years older and more than half of us are divorced, most have admitted it was herd mentality: they wanted me to do it since they were doing it, not for my own good.

 

My astute sociopath of a now ex-husband (I didn’t know it at the time) realized that if I kept spending time with them, I might realize this was a horrible mistake to get married. So after some convincing he talked me into finishing up my last degree in Oregon, moving from Chicago to Portland, nearly two thousand miles away.

 

I didn’t know anyone. Luckily, somewhat, while finishing my final degree I worked as a bookkeeper/assistant for a small CPA firm, and down the hall was the local ALS Association, a charity I am passionate about. So I joined, made a few friends. That got me my second job, temping, and I ended up through the temp job getting hired as director of payroll for a national company. I finished my degrees in psychology but was making so much money in finance and accounting, I decided to stay, urged on by my then-fiancé.

 

I made a few more friends. Through them I met Max, a great friend, who got me an awesome job with his airline company and I moved into the world of six figure salaries, and began hanging out with airplane mechanics after work, hard drinking blue collar guys who reminded me of family.

 

So any female friends I had were more acquaintances. Things started changing in my relationship and my conviction I wanted to get married went down to maybe 20%. These acquaintances who didn’t know me thought it was just regular nerves. The truth was I was working 80 hour weeks, my fiancé quit his job to stay home, but he was never home. You might see where this is going, but being young and stupid I sure as hell didn’t, I just knew something felt off.

 

So I joined a forum for women about to be married. I thought I might find support there, but all I got at first was bullying. I didn’t know at the time that fiancé was male and fiancée was female (I was a Tomboy and had never even looked at wedding stuff before, so such subtleties escaped me). So I accidentally wrote my concerns about my “fiancée” and had to deal with bullying over being a lesbian. As a bisexual woman, it hit close to home and I grew depressed. It got so bad (the tension at home, the lack of understanding from friends, and the bullying in the forums) that I nearly lost it.

 

I sat in my car with a suitcase mentally trying to prepare myself to just leave, drive home to Chicago, fax Max to quit, and leave the impending marriage far behind, and find a job in psychological research. But I checked the forum one last time and read a seemingly intelligent opinion and it convinced me to stay.

 

Let me tell you, if I had a time machine, I’d go back to that day and tell me to do it, drive off, leave the ring, never look back. The kicker? I found out after my wedding the smart post had been a troll, and there were a lot of laughs at the joke on me.

 

No shock when just 1.5 years later I was laid off and realized working in the world of corporate finance was not for me. I could forgo six figure salaries and wanted a simpler life, a quiet job, and more free time to write. However, when I announced this and my now ex realized his meal ticket was disappearing, so did he.

 

I am not bitter over losing the relationship. I am bitter over the alimony I had to pay, the house I lost, the damage to my credit, and the nearly eight years of poverty that have resulted. It’s been a struggle to get back to a real life, and I’m on my way, but eight years of grinding poverty while knowing he’s living high on the hog of money I earned kills me. I try to forgive and forget, but I sincerely hope he gets Ebola and dies a slow, agonizing death.

 

I made a mistake there in following the advice of strangers. Older and wiser, now I know that the Internet is anonymous by and large, and when people have anonymity they are fucking monsters. Yet it is hard to remember that when it concerns something personal.

 

Every time I am called a cunt in the Cracked forums, it’s easy to shake it off because I have no horse in that race. But now with writing I have run into the assholes of Literotica who do not appear to be actual readers, just people who sit around on the forums of an erotic literature website all day. And as writing is very important to me, it does cut to the quick, and it is hard to remember that in reality it means nothing.

 

The short of it is I created a post asking for honest review readers, and was asked to move it from the Author’s Hangout, then asked to move it from Story Feedback and place it on the General Board. Once there I had a good conversation with one reader before the trolls descended.

 

I suppose the only thing that helps is knowing none of these twits would say such things if we were face to face. Partly because society is designed to work face to face, and yes, in part because I am nearly six feet tall and have a black belt, and after a few years of pacifism frankly I would like to break a few noses.

 

It should never get to that point. Yet we live in a world where teens and some adults commit suicide because of Internet comments. This really and truly has to stop.

 

China has a system where every poster on any site’s name is an ID number, like a social security number or national ID number. This cuts down on pointless harassment, idiocy, stalking, bullying, racism, and bigotry of all means greatly.

 

Why don’t we have this? I would frankly be happy to let the world know it’s Nora M. Quick commenting on things. I think, until that day comes, I’m just going to stay out of forums like that. There is absolutely no value there. After all, when you argue with idiots, all it can do is bring you down to their level.