How Your Snarky Tweets Can Hurt

Today I’m taking a moment from blog guest posts, adorable updates, and attacks of Murphy While on Vacation to bring you a rant.

I don’t watch the news.

I occasionally check out the weather. Online.

Even I knew some idiot claimed “The Rapture” would happen on Saturday, thanks to snarky tweets and facebook postings.

I’m too busy soaking it up with my family on our visit and dealing with the little bumps tossed my way to worry about it or even joke about it.

But still, it bothered me.

A lot.

Not because of any fear I had (i.e. none).

No, my irritation stemmed because I know someone very, very bothered by it.

Not because she believed it. She’s smart, brilliant even. She knew the idea was ridiculous.

Someone who has OCD can't help but focus on the tiniest chance something MIGHT happen.

Her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder however – which is most often triggered by scrupulosity or other “world ending” possibilities – sunk its teeth into these rantings and jokes like I did with Mimi’s Famous Sticky Rolls.

ODC wouldn’t let it go, or wave it off as “ridiculous”.

I know she’s spent the last week bothered by this. Normally, I would’ve distracted her, inviting her over, making her laugh it off.

But I’m in Iowa. When I bought the tickets, May 21st was still just the 21st.

And now, it’s the 22nd. We’re still here.

Duh.

So is she, and I know her OCD is just waiting for another chance to drive her normally reasonable self into a non-functioning loop of doubt.

So please…. READ THIS. Get a view of what it’s like from her side.

OCD is not a joke. It’s not funny.

Maybe next time you’ll think about how even laughing about some crackpot predicting the end of the world only adds to the hell of those who cannot control these thoughts.

Pass it on.

End of soapbox.

I’ll be cute and funny tomorrow.

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About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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21 Responses to How Your Snarky Tweets Can Hurt

  1. I only heard about it from my wife in bed last night. Been working too hard to watch the news… and when the TV is on it’s primarily for approved toddler fair. Sorry to hear how all of this affected the person you know with OCD. People (including me) sometimes don’t think how jokes can affect someone sensitive to the topic. In this case I wasn’t one of them, and try to be careful to be as sensitive as I can be, but it’s hard to filter out everything. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Our TV situation is the same. In fact, if it wasn’t for my friend, tweets, and Facebook, I honestly wouldn’t have had any clue about yesterday being “the end”.

      Still, since I witness OCD secondhand with my friend, and she often sees her issues as “whining”, I take it upon myself to try to educate others that OCD is terrifying to those that have it – and so not funny.

      Nothing like Monk.

      Thanks for reading, Michael. 🙂

  2. I’m sorry your friend was upset, and certainly I and nobody I know meant to upset anyone sensitive to it.

    However, I absolutely positively did mean to mock and belittle concepts spewed by those who would, without a thought for my well being or that of my daughter, strip us of our reproductive rights, our rights of who we can marry, and even our rights to education, the vote, and general free will.

    I made specific effort to mock the rapture idea, as much as I mock any other ridiculous dogma that I find potentially destructive to society, without making any statement slamming all Christians, all religious people, etc. In fact we didn’t go to the CFI star party last night because I just got into it with those folks over why it’s one thing to speak against religion and quite another to slam the religious. So I feel pretty certain that I didn’t attack anyone on any personal level. Others might have, but I know I didn’t.

    I have a severe phobia about a particular kind of relatively harmless insect. I am greatly upset, to the point of not being able to eat, if it is mentioned in any context any time close to a meal. I would like the mass media to never, ever mention this bug. However, they do, and I have to accept that my problem, as real as it is to me, does not warrant the silencing of everybody else. I simply do not have the right to ask that everybody else on the planet hush about something because it personally bothers me. I can ask that of my friends in my personal space, but I can’t ask it of the entire internet.

    I sympathize with your friend, I truly do, but I also disagree strongly with any request to be silent over anything.

    • I didn’t request silence, so much as understanding – what you’re doing can hurt people in unintended ways.

      It bothers me in the “I’m helpless to do anything but possibly educate others” way – if that makes sense.

      My biggest issues with crackpots like this – is people reading, listening, reporting, even joking about it gives him power. If his insane declarations had never been passed on, almost no one (outside of locals) would have heard of it. Instead, it basically went viral.

      To me, it tells other crackpots they too can be infamous someday, and get their fifteen minutes of fame. Whereas silence on the matter – no one would even know his name.

      I never believed you or my other friends to be attacking anyone.

      • I do understand that words can hurt, but the thing is, all words hurt someone. If I say I’m pro-breastfeeding, someone is bound to take that as me being viciously against formula, which I am not. If I say I’m pro-science, someone who believes evolution is a devil’s scheme to destroy families gets upset. You don’t even want to know the kettle of fish when I say I’m pro-vaccination.

        I’m glad you clarified that you didn’t think your friends were attacking, because the tweet kind of sounded like you were angry at any of us who were making jokes.

        But to be clear, the guy who perpetuated this rapture date had billboards, busses, and other advertising around everywhere. The media may have whipped it up higher but they do that with everything. And it’s all a backdrop to the 2012ers anyway. Plus seriously, I bet there were way more Christians saying an extra prayer on Friday night to hedge bets than will ever let on publicly. Entire churches were behind this, so it would have been spread anyway.

        In a way, I think it’s the responsibility of the informed, thinking populace to call out this kind of nonsense rather than let people with enough money put out dumb ideas. Refuting rapture with jokes is akin to mocking the Phelps crowd: yes, the crackpots want attention, but they get it even if we ignore them. Better to have a united front ridiculing them.

        And for the record, I’m a free-speech purist; I do support the rights of crackpots to say their crackpotty things, even when they disgust and infuriate me. I just like to flaunt my right to refute them back in their faces.

  3. Barbara L says:

    I feel sorry for your friend. But, maybe they shouldn’t be on twitter? or watch tv? Are there other subjects we all shouldn’t mention? I have severe perfume allergies. I tell people if they want to wear perfume they can’t come to my house or hug me or even shake hands with me. I don’t expect everyone in the world to not wear perfume. And it can be life threatening to me, not just set off symptoms. I have to take action to protect myself. I think about where I go. There are places I don’t go as I know I might put myself in danger. I take responsibility to safeguard myself. The whole world doesn’t stop because I could die from a reaction to perfume.

    • To my knowledge, she quickly learned to avoid Twitter, and informed her Facebook friends to please use the “hide post” feature for her for any updates they wished to do that mentioned it – or she’d have to hide them from her feed. She also didn’t watch TV about it. But EVERYONE was talking about it, and once the seed was planted – it was essentially too late for the OCD to let go, until the days passed.

      Ouch on the perfume allergies.

      My main issues with this, is not the topic, so much as making the random spouting of a religious zealot “news”. The more people talked about it, the more power it gave him, the more infamy. It doesn’t matter that he was talking about of his behind.

      I wish no one had reported on it, or said anything about it. So only those unlucky enough to bump into him and his followers would have even heard about it.

      Instead it went viral and the whole world heard.

      It just seems… asinine, and a way to encourage others to do the same.

      I don’t believe in censoring, just not give such power to those who don’t deserve it. I don’t think my rant made this clear.

      My main goal was to educate – that even amusing tweets about a ridiculous topic can affect others in ways not intended.

      And to spread awareness of OCD as it really is – because most don’t know.

    • I’m allergic to some scents too. I had a friend who drenched herself in the stuff and would claim I couldn’t possibly be allergic because it was “natural”. I pointed out, “So’s uranium. Natural doesn’t mean healthy. And pollen’s natural, and people are allergic to that in droves.” *headdesk*

      I had to stop working a certain shift as a teen when I worked at the public library because the Rotary club old folks would come in so smothered in cologne and perfume that you’d think a bunch of musk oxen had been exploding in a field crammed with flowers. Egads, it was horrid. The headaches would last for days if I had to be there when those folks came in. But I never asked the library to forbid the meetings or require no-perfume. I had to work around it.

      • She does work around it. Most do.

        I still want to help.

        I like to pass on awareness of OCD, and this just happens to be a huge trigger for most – informing many of those who have no idea how it effects those with OCD.

        I don’t expect people to be silent.

        Just to think.

        Ugh on the cologne. I think I’d have that problem too.

  4. mairedubhtx says:

    Thanks for a view from a side (OCD) that can’t be helped. I understand it upset her and I’m sorry for that. OCD is nothing to laugh at; it’s just as serious as depression and anxiety. Maybe this will teach us to be more sensitive.

  5. bobbijaye says:

    I want to jump in here – as the obsessive-compulsive who sparked this. First: Kelly is awesome for posting on my behalf. Both she and OCD are pretty significant parts of my life, and as such, OCD has its moments as a big part of her life by proxy. She does as much for OCD awareness as anyone I know, and I love her for that.

    I also hate that her post made anyone to think that she was attacking them. Not a chance.

    I did stay off Twitter. I never watch any news stations on television. I don’t listen to the radio. You’re right – my responsibility to protect myself. And also, my responsibility to ask those around me for what I need. Which I did. I don’t expect the world at large to shut up, but I did ask that my friends on facebook use their security settings to “hide” me from any posts they wanted to make about the subject. I asked my friends in person to refrain from joking about this matter around me. Mutual respect.

    Kind of how you, as a parent, might ask your friends to refrain from cursing or smoking around your children, even if you don’t ask them to give these things up all together. And how many parents would look at a man who walked onto a playground and started spewing expletives? Even though this is a public space, we ask people to think about their audience and think how their words might affect others, because we can’t choose not to hear, but we can choose to speak carefully.

    My personal take on the matter is that giving attention to these crackpots is a lot like feeding a troll in a chatroom. The more attention you pay, good or bad, the happier these people are. But I would never expect the conversation to stop. It’s the prerogative of anyone to say how they feel. I absolutely believe that. And I did say, quite honestly, that I hated all of the hype this got – only because in MY life, the response to the idiocy was just as damaging as the idiocy itself. And because, as a support group facilitator, I have some idea of just how many people there are out there whose daily lives turned into minefields when everyone started posting about this.

  6. Annie says:

    Give her a hug for me. The whole rapture thing ticks me off too. It got too much publicity. Publicity the crack pots wanted. I understand (as much as someone without OCD can) how hard it is. The mind is one strong and complicated body part.

  7. Diane K says:

    I know obsessive compulsive disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder, so I can see that the excessive worry that something bad might happen could possibly be a symptom of OCD…. is the worry, the feeling of “impending doom,” as I describe it, accompanied by rituals or sets of behaviors that must be done in order to prevent something bad from happening? That would be a clear indicator of OCD. Your friend’s symptoms sound more like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, just based on what I read- does she have panic attacks as well? I’m just curious because I have severe anxiety issues myself and all the doomsday talk has gotten to me a bit too, even though I know it is irrational. I am coping with it using humor- for example, I wrote a blog about fruit flies causing the end of humanity, with a happy ending involving the royal wedding (hey, if that didn’t cause the end of the world, I think we are safe!)
    when you realize how many different off the wall theories exist on this topic it becomes less scary.. it might help your friend to do some research on the topic, I know that may seem strange because reading about it can trigger the anxiety. I am just passing along what helps me because I want to help anyone who struggles with an anxiety disorder. Sorry am kind of rambly, I am very tired and it’s late, way past my bedtime….

    • bobbijaye says:

      Hi Diane,

      You’re right… GAD is a part of my alphabet soup. As a matter of fact, there aren’t many of the anxiety disorders that I haven’t been diagnosed with at one point or another. But – I am absolutely sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I have OCD. Just ask Kelly about all the time I spent sweeping to prevent car crashes or washing my hands bloody. Here, the rituals were mostly what we’d call “pure O” meaning that they’re all internal. Praying, counting… To be fair, checking facebook became pretty bad because I was sure that if I checked facebook and no one said anything about people disappearing, I’d feel better.

      Humor is a great way to work with these things. Fruit flies and the royal wedding? I love it.

  8. John says:

    While it’s certainly unfortunate for your friend, I’m reminded of a woman who would go into seizures whenever she heard Barbara Walter’s voice. It was a very, very real condition – something about the tone & cadence that Ms. Walters spoke with, combined with this woman’s epilepsy would be the trigger.

    It didn’t mean that Barbara shouldn’t ever speak, though. If I pulled a Garfield, and started talking about how much I hate Mondays (and I do), need I worry about offending someone who lost loved ones on Mondays? Or who got married and had all of her children on Mondays, and therefore loves them?

    I feel for your friend, I truly do, and she obviously has a very real issue with OCD. But, I guarantee that there is another crackpot who will say that the world is going to end tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that . . . she needs help. But to worry about & think of the feelings of all . . . well, it means that we need to keep silent.

  9. I just posted on Riding in a Car with Ducks’ page. Thank you for leading us there.

    I have to say, I am not a doom and gloomer, plus being Jewish, well, we always know if the criteria are based on accepting Jesus as our personal savior, um, we’re out. It’s kind of a given.

    That said, this time, even I got to thinking and wondering. The chitter chatter, the jokes were everywhere. Someone quipped, “What should I wear to the Rapture?” Which is hilariously funny. But for someone with OCD (or even without OCD), it does kind of ramp up the anxiety level. And I worry that this is what we have become. Our society loves to scare people. It’s pretty terrible. Why don’t we have “Leave flowers on your neighbors’ doorstep day”? We expend so much energy on all this negativity. And, as you said, it all gets Tweeted and put up on Facebook and MySpace and it gets prime time on the news and even gets a nod on Saturday Night Live. It’s hard to hide from that much exposure. There was a time when crazy folk like this made their predictions and then a few people just woke up the next morning and said, “See Grandpa. The world is still here.” Now, this dude gets so much exposure.

    So I don’t think this is so much about “Snarky Tweets” as it is about how desperate our 24/7 culture needs to find stories – any stories – to fill up the air time. Because heaven forbid broadcasters actually talk about real world events. That might really scare people. Great post, Kelly! 😉

  10. Kelly, I always appreciate the opportunity to think about a situation from someone else’s perspective.

    Your post is a reminder that words have power.

    And it was good for me to see a side of a circumstance that had never occurred to me. I would hazard a guess that most people (that I know and love at least) don’t intend to be cruel and wouldn’t do or say anything to intentionally hurt another.

    That goes for me, too.

    So thanks for sharing the other side of the story. A little more awareness is never a bad thing.

  11. Amy says:

    For me, I *had* to joke about it to feel better about it. The sillier I made it, the less real it was. I got a bit anxious about the whole thing the closer it got so I got a bit sillier about it to feel better. I know rationally that the whole thing wasn’t real. I know this. It didn’t stop me from hugging my toddler just a little tighter Friday and Saturday nights when she went to bed. It’s funny how we all have to deal with our anxiety, OCD, and things in our own ways in order to cope.

    I felt like you were just pointing out that some people dealt with it in a different way than everyone else and that’s ok. I didn’t feel like you were slamming anyone for doing what they did, just saying, “Hey, think before you speak sometimes.” No biggie.

    I know that it would have been better if we could have all ignored it, but that’s not the way the world works. I sure would have appreciated it if we could have ignored it though! As I’m sure your friend would have! 🙂

  12. Pingback: It’s Not Just About Breasts Anymore | Dances with Chaos

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