Saturday, September 1, 2018

Bad at Twitter, Edwardian Trolling, Belated Buddy Update

For some unknown reason, I persist in maintaining a Twitter account, even though I am terrible at it and virtually never tweet anything except a link to my newest blog post. Nevertheless, I recently had a flash of Twitter ambition and decided to clean up my follower lists, banish those who annoy me, and follow some more interesting thinkers.  I’m still terrible at Twitter, but I enjoy reading the Tweets of my newly-minted ….followees? (I’m so bad at Twitter I don’t even know what to call people I follow.) I don’t know if my failure at Twitter has to do with my introversion, or simply my complete lack of interest in sharing all of my fascinating opinions with the world. I can’t imagine having a thought and immediately feeling an overwhelming urge to hammer it out and announce it to all and sundry on social media. Also, Twitter is a garbage barge under the best of circumstances. It’s a terrible form of electronic crack that caters to the absolute worst of our instincts. It’s a rage factory, a sewer and a societal blight. Yet I cannot bring myself to delete my account, because I am no better than anyone else and I get a little smirky, feel-good charge out of observing the gladiatorial verbal death-matches. Also, I keep thinking there has to be a more interesting way to use it, like writing a short story in a series of Tweets, or posting short poems…and then I could build a huge following and get Twitter-famous! See, I barely even use it and yet I’m still addicted and plotting some grubby rise to cheap fame through its auspices. It's bad news.

Along those lines, I have discovered absolute proof that trolling was alive and well long before Twitter ever existed. I recently a read a very interesting article about a German-educated British scientist named Marie Stopes who became the first sex advice writer during the Edwardian era. Her sex guide, “Married Love", was a response to literally thousands of letters she received over the course of her career from desperate, confused, woefully uniformed Edwardians. The article details some of the content of the letters, and it’s heartbreaking. “I am writing to know if you would give me some advice, as I am only 27 and have five children, the oldest nine years and the youngest 18 months. My husband is always out of work and it is a continual worry from one month to the other, as I don’t want to have more children. Hoping to have an early reply.” And, "I am a young mother of two beautiful children. I had a terrible time for both. The doctor told me I wasn’t to have any more. Could you please give me some advice on how to prevent any more coming." Apparently, there was also widespread confusion at the time about having sex in a bed versus another location. It seemed to be widely believed that sex outside of a bed would not lead to pregnancy.

Dr. Stopes was beloved by her readers, but she certainly had her detractors. One hand-written letter featured in the article stated: “Go back to your own country and preach your dirty methods there. Decent English people are disgusted at your filthy suggestions in Married Love. Sexual gratification is not the only thing that makes life worth living as you seem to think. At any rate, yours is a paying game, and naturally that is what matters most to you. GO BACK HOME.” Fantastic.

I know that my legion of followers get antsy when there hasn’t been a Buddy update in a while, but there hasn’t been much to report, because Buddy got his *ss handed to him by Giant Gray Cat, and now he just stays inside and rightly minds his own business. Giant Gray Cat appeared mysteriously in our neighborhood a few months ago and made overtures of friendship towards Buddy. But Buddy being Buddy, he wasn’t having any of it and decided to the best approach would be to take this interloper down. The problem is, Buddy is both a runt, and deeply delusional about his fighting abilities. Over the course of three weeks, he turned up with bites on his neck, his back, and his tail, one of them leading to an abscess. GGC 1, Buddy 0. Having lost the territorial battle, Buddy now just skulks around on the deck, flexing his puny muscles and fantasizing about what he would do if he could just have one more shot in the ring with GGC. But so far, hasn’t picked another fight, and things have been a lot more peaceful around here.

In honor of Buddy's fighting spirit, here is a video by Dorothy. Warning: It's actually pretty wholesome, but it does use the h-word repeatedly.

--Kristen McHenry

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