A friend and I were recently discussing Tosh.0. While the show is really popular, the friend confided in me that she disliked it, and I confided right back.
“Handle them carefully…for words have more power than atom bombs.” – Pearl Strachan Hurd
We broke up for a very good reason — everything I knew about him, except his name, was a lie. And he went to prison.
Okay, two very good reasons.
But the why’s are much better saved for another day. It’s his post-breakup behavior that I want to tell you about.
A week or so after his incarceration, I received a piece of mail. I thought “Oh, here it comes. He’s going to beg me to wait for him and I’m going to have to tell him AGAIN that I don’t do convicts unless they’ve starred in a Hollywood blockbuster.”
But it wasn’t that letter. In fact, it wasn’t so much a letter, at all, but a list. A list of 25 very carefully thought out things that were wrong with me. That’s right, no intro, no outro, no signature. Just a list, numbered one through twenty-five, of things he hated about me.
Now, I don’t need to tell you that it’s no picnic to see, in prison-y ball point scribblescrabble, your faults, in list form. I mean, I hold no illusions about my own flaws, numerous as they are, but it’s quite something to know that someone else has noticed those things, too, and held them close, waiting for a time to spring them on you in a bundle.
I know what you’re thinking “Hey, Jen, this guy was in prison, were his opinions really that important?” Maybe not. He had obviously made some poor life choices. But logic takes a back seat, or at least a passenger seat, when you find out that he, too, thinks your lady parts have an unusual odor, your cooking tastes like ass, and you snore like a fat man. Some things you can’t unread.
For example, #17: “Your forehead is too small.”
My what is what? I had never considered my, or anyone else’s, forehead before. Weren’t they all pretty much the same? I went to the mirror. Oh my god! It IS small!! Like, freakishly small. There was hardly any space between my eyebrows and hairline. You know how some people have fiveheads? I have a threehead, at most. Okay, okay, a twohead.
Nearly everything on that list burrowed into some part of my subconscious. About half of it is still there.
That’s why I worry about the culture of mean I see growing stronger every day.
A friend and I were recently discussing Tosh.0. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a show on Comedy Central that features Daniel Tosh, a comedian, running video clips, mostly snagged from the internet, and commenting on/joking about them. While the show is really popular, the friend confided in me that she disliked it, and I confided right back.
“The humor is mean,” she said, pinpointing the problem with laserlike precision, as is her specialty.
And it’s true. Rarely are Tosh’s comments about the videos complimentary. Very infrequently is he caught saying anything other than, in so many words, “this person is an idiot”.
Why does it bug me? I’m about 110 years old but, once upon a time (today), I really loved America’s Funniest Videos, which is based on the same premise: Somebody does something stupid, it’s captured on video, it’s shown on TV for all of us to have a good laugh about. I think the difference is that, more often than not, the people on AFV have sent in the videos of themselves, making them in on the joke (cash money don’t hurt, neither).
But Tosh.0’s subjects aren’t necessarily in on their own joke. Instead, many of the videos are posted online, innocently, and then the showcased and held up to ridicule by millions. The same as sending it to a television show about stupid human tricks? No.
Watching that show gives me the same feeling of discomfort that I get when I see sites like PeopleofWalmart.com or AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com. Seems like one minute you’re doing something innocent, like being chubby at Walmart or posing for a silly Christmas photo, and the next you’re featured on a website where thousands of people are making fun of you. Now, just living your life is enough to make you the butt of the Internet. Can you imagine the damage of finding yourself on one of these websites? I’m chubby and silly, every day! Ask Rebecca Black how it feels to think you’re doing something cool, and then have the internet vote on whether or not you should kill yourself about it.
Look, I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to mean. But my goal is to only mock myself and those who signed up for the job, as well as make an effort to build up and encourage people. For every craptacular thing I say, I say two nice things, and am cutting back on the craptacular because, honestly, that’s how it makes me feel, too. I’d hate to cause someone the sads because of something I said and, honestly, there’s enough hilariously bad stuff about me to keep me in jokes for the next one hundred years.
As much as most (read: some) days I feel like a superhero, fourteen years later, I still give the most cursory glance at my forehead when getting ready every single morning and think “too small”. Words really matter. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see someone about maybe adding bangs to my look.