It should come as no surprise to you that I get fan mail sometimes. After all, I do tend to poke bears with sticks. The bigger the bear, the longer the stick, though. Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw the following message in my inbox on Facebook:
“You are truly one stupid, pathetic bastard. That is a screensaver and it is clipart or are you too fucking stupid to be able to figure this out? You must be. Please tell us how your parents were ever allowed to breed and infest the vermin you are on the world? I really hope whatever community you infest gets smart and has you and whatever piece of trailer trash you are shacked up with sterilized because we just don’t need more of your kind of filth messing up the world. No please go somewhere and put a gun in your mouth and make this world a much better place. You will not be missed I guarantee it!”
He guarantees it, even. Nice.
So what’s all this about? Where to begin?
A few days ago, Mr. Allen posted a very insulting message on his Facebook page for his photography business. The message, which has since been deleted, stated that he wasn’t going to work with overweight or obese models any more. (He didn’t call them overweight or obese, by the way. He used very harsh language.) After a lot of backlash from people calling him a hack, he shut down his photography page.
I am also of the opinion that he is a hack, a dude who has a cheap camera and thinks he is a photographer. By that measure, I’m Ansel Adams. Photography is one of those arts that takes a long time to master, and it takes an even longer time for you to make a profession off of it. Furthermore, beggars can’t be choosers. The dude could have calmly turned down plus-sized models. Instead, he decided to go full-on douchebag.
(Am I going to get hate mail by a certain “Mr. X” over the term “douchebag”?)
One of the photographs on his Facebook page was that of a landscape. I got curious about it because it looked just a little too perfect compared to some of the other pictures he had posted. After a Google image search, I discovered that the landscape picture was a Hewlett-Packard computer screen save, so I mentioned this fact on the comments to that picture.
The message above was his response.
Radio host Dan Le Batard said the other day that we live in a point in time where meanness from people is readily displayed because of how connected we are. In the days before the internet and social media, I would have never run into this guy. Or, if I did, he wouldn’t have had the ability to tell me what he wrote in his message… Not unless he was standing in front of me.
Likewise, I wouldn’t have had the ability to find out that a picture he was trying to pass off as his was not his. (A lot of people seem to be doing that lately. What’s up with that?) Heck, I probably wouldn’t even care… Except that one of my friends got offended, shared Mr. Allen’s rant, and I piled on in the backlash against him. Then I saw his picture and got curious, and here we are.
I’m not going to pontificate on the benefits or detriments of having an online social media presence, or how things used to be so much simpler when you could just punch someone in the mouth in real life for talking trash at you. (Not that, you know, I ever did anything like that.) I’m just going to tell you that, if you engage the crazies, you’re going to get fan mail. Some of that fan mail will be like the one above.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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