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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

“you should probably kill yourself”

I received this feedback on Facebook last night:

killyourself

I have no idea what this guy is upset about, but I presume he disagrees with me about a movie. I’m not sure which is more sad: If he truly thinks I must hate life enough to kill myself because I didn’t see the same things in a movie that he did, or if he’s just “joking.”

He deleted his Facebook page after I posted this on Facebook and Twitter last night (and also after I reported him as abusive), so perhaps he is ashamed.

Something is desperately wrong with the world when this sort of abuse — vile and violent and hurled at total strangers over a difference of opinion regarding entertainment — is so prevalent. When so many people lack purpose and direction in their lives that they seek it in attacking others, we have failed those people. (I can only imagine that the reason people attack others like this is because it makes them feel better about themselves, for some perverse reason.) And we have failed to harness whatever unique energies and talents they could bring to the world. I truly believe that, a very few outliers aside, everyone wants to feel useful and wants to spend their time doing work that is meaningful to them. And when they don’t have that, they try to create it… and sometimes that takes a form that looks twisted to the rest of us.

We are killing ourselves slowly by failing so many people like this.


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  • Beowulf

    Certainly I blame the poster, but I also blame our evolutionary history. People are programmed to think they are always right, to protect their own beliefs and self worth. Others, outside the family and or small tribe, are not truly human and can be discounted. I won’t present the case (it is too complex to even begin to explore here) that we are doomed to extinction because we have evolved technologically light-years beyond our stone age brains. I won’t go into it, but I think it is valid. We are young children playing in rooms with increasingly more destructive weapons. We will kill every large animal, despoil every rain forest and coral growth. And then we will leave our Earth to begin anew with another species, hopefully less destructive to its home and itself.

  • I don’t disagree. But do you think that, say, newspaper columnists in the 1950s regularly got letters saying “You should kill yourself”? Is it just that social media makes it easier to dash off bile like this, when before it took more consideration to write a letter, address an envelope, stamp it, and mail it? Were people *thinking* abuse like this before but simply couldn’t be bothered to express it (because it took more effort)?

  • Danielm80

    I think people put their energy into hunting for communists and segregating lunch counters. So instead of saying, “You should kill yourself,” they were forming mobs and actually killing and persecuting people, to protect their own beliefs and self-worth.

  • althea

    There was a version of this, but of course in very small numbers. At the public library where I worked, occasionally a bizarre letter would appear, brought by the post office if the envelope indicated “library”. They were usually incoherent ramblings, but abusive/abrasive/nasty ones were among them. Then, as now, there were never names or anything to identify the writers. When they showed up they came to my office, where a “just in case” file was kept. I have no doubt that similar letters went to government agencies and well-known businesses.

    Personally I’ve been mystified by the prevalence of these messages saying “you should kill yourself”. How is that a useful taunt, given that the thing that the writer is objecting to is something the recipient apparently did or said in the belief that she or he was entitled to do or say? Wouldn’t it make more sense to say “I should kill you” or “somebody should kill you”? Wouldn’t that have more impact? That said, I’m just as mystified at hearing/reading that there are indeed people who are horrified and hurt by this particular message, people who apparently take it seriously. Teenagers in their innocence have been terribly impacted by this. It makes no sense. If I got such a message, I’d be thinking “Oh. yeah? In what universe, dude?” I feel so sorry for those who are hurt by this strange thing, which I hope is a fad. (But probably not.)

  • Constable

    Don’t hate the hater, hate that the hater has to hate. This I like. Why must our approval or disapproval be made so binary?

  • Jurgan

    I’m sure they did, but not every “letter to the editor” got published. I imagine the editor of the New York Times in the 1950’s could tell you about a lot of letters that ended in the circular file.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    I will risk being sappy by saying I hope MJ is around a very long time!

  • aff4366

    if you’re really that upset about it, you should probably kill yourself.

  • Charming.

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