After last week’s post about my grumpy puss appearing as some (presumably) dude’s dating profile, I did finally hear back from the woman who alerted me to the fact. She had read the piece and, well, she wasn’t angry, just disappointed. You know, in that guilt-inducing mom kind of way.
She had a point. One, I had turned our private correspondence into a public affair, and, two, she felt I had made her the butt of the joke, when really the target should have been the loser using my image. Without quoting her directly again, she felt there were a lot of assumptions made about her and a general lack of respect. As I said, she wasn’t mad, just taken aback that this was how her favour was returned, and I did apologize to her. I could easily have told a funny story without dragging her into it.
But the exchange did emphasize how simple it is, even for someone who’s supposedly conscientious about these things, to use the anonymity of online interaction as an excuse for casual cruelty. Human empathy can disappear quickly within the paradoxical closeness and distance of social media. Ultimately, the same rationale that allows jokers around the world to use my image without a thought is the same one that allows us to post cruel jokes on Twitter, Facebook and even right here in this safe space.
There should be a warning on all social media: “Caution: Humans Functioning.”
Speaking of warnings (not that that was a forced segue or anything), here’s my latest audio piece for CBC Radio’s “Breakaway.” I think I may have come unhinged. Can’t say you haven’t been warned.