Troll > Artist > Author > Musician > Coder > Nerd In Social Status

Today I stumbled on this excellent article in The Guardian “I Am Being Catfished” where an author reads a bad review on Good Reads and proceeds to track the reviewer down in real life to confront her. The article is significant because apparently on Goodreads there’s a social norm that authors are never to reply to any review or face the wrath of the community. An author that responds receives a stream of vitriol, is slandered in the “blogs”, and labeled something called a Bad Behaving Author (BBA). Should you attempt to do something as ambitious as hunt one of your trolls down you are even more evil and destroyed even harder.

Problem is, in the article Kathleen Hale hunts down her troll “Blythe” and finds out that actually her name is Judy (or possibly an alias for the article’s legal reasons). Judy also harassed Kathleen, spent weeks trying to bait her into replying, and ended up being a weird sociopath who seems to just post bad reviews to destroy authors. All of this behavior is incredibly abusive troll behavior, and I am a firm supporter of outing trolls and exposing their real identities. Yet there’s this odd ethos where trolls have a right to privacy, but victims of trolls do not. The defenders of trolls will pronounce the “Free Speech Spell Level 1” and “Right To Privacy Spell Level 3”, but completely ignore the trolls own violations of all those same rights on their victims. In fact, I think there will be a new surge of abuse directed at me simply because I’m talking about abusive trolls right now.

What this troll ethos amounts to is the classic abuser dynamic found in many abusive relationships. An abuser’s entire goal in life is to find a reason to exert their abusive sociopathic desires onto victims while appearing to be in the right. The abuser says, “I just had to smack you because you made me so angry. Why do you do that to me?!” The internet abuser will send out a small pin prick, hoping for a response so they can justify their abuse because the social norms of the internet (Don’t Feed The Trolls) gives them license to then attack if you respond. If you don’t respond then you can almost hear the troll say, “That’s right bitch, take it.” If you do respond then you deserve their abuse because you made them react. The internet said so, so they can do it. Why did you make them abuse you by responding? It’s not the trolls fault.

Throw into this the weird internet norm that hunting down a troll is wrong and now we have a situation where trolls can walk around abusing people with zero retaliation. It’s as if there’s a whole street of dudes saying, “Faggot” while I walk by but they all get to wear masks and if I respond then everyone will yell at me while he tries to beat me into the street. If I fight back, I’m the bad guy. If I rip off his mask, I’m the bad guy. If he comes to my house, well that’s just what I get. If I go to his, then I’m violating his rights to privacy. The insanity of the internet is not that there are trolls, it’s that trolls are given full rights to abuse others and people defend the troll’s right to be abusive fucking assholes.

These bizarre social norms on Goodreads mostly amount to nothing more than enabling abusive trolls like Blythe/Judy and do not improve the reviews. In fact, the entire point of the internet is that people can respond to their criticism placing critic and subject on equal footing. In Blythe’s review she claims there’s rape in Kathleen’s book, but Kathleen and many other people claim there’s none at all. Since the author can’t respond then the reviewer’s words become the truth. When Kathleen responds to the outright slander she is vilified and ridiculed, but the point of free speech is that everyone gets to talk, not just the first asshole who opens her mouth.

A General View Of Creative Social Status

This article had me thinking about why a group of professional authors are not allowed to do the one thing they’re best at (writing) while seemingly illiterate morons are given full control of a book’s status. In the case of Blythe/Judy the woman is obviously illiterate because she claims the book is full of rape when it’s not according to the female author of the fucking book. Think about that. In the social hierarchy this puts trolls above authors and makes them more trusted than anyone else online.

What I’ve noticed is there’s sort of a Creative’s Hierarchy that I’ve experienced in various ways because I actually do all of these things. I’m a kind of a troll of trolls, an amateur artist, a professional author, an amateur musician, a professional coder, and a huge nerd. If I could put them into order of social standing it would be this:

#1 Troll

As I said, not only can trolls be completely abusive social manipulators transmitting the most heinous propaganda, threats, and slander, but perfectly rational people will defend them when they do it. Weev is the best example of this, being as he is a literal fucking Nazi and yet the likes of Molly Crabapple (an artist) defends him.

#2 Artist

I’ve been reading a bunch of artist’s biographies, and I have to say, many of them are gigantic huge pieces of shit. There’s even a common social norm of “separate the artist from the art”, so an artist can be the lowest of human scum and still worshipped for his paintings. Even then, people do comment on artists’ behavior and don’t defend it, unlike with trolls. This puts them just under trolls. Another good test of the social power of being an artist is the amount of shit you can get away with when you’re standing there painting or drawing. I’ve had people who grimace at me when I bust out my laptop at a cafe have no problem with me busting out an entire table of painting gear to bust out a shitty watercolor of some flowers.

#3 Author

What brings author into the #3 slot in the hierarchy is the odd dynamic of being able to influence millions of people with words while having almost nobody give a shit about your skills as a writer. I’ve had people who have read my books rattle off all the things I can do and leave out writing. I tell people I write “technical books” and they say, “Oh so not real books.” Other authors of real books tell me that until you’re filthy rich you really don’t get much respect, and even then other writers will shit on you even when you win the Nobel Prize. In addition to that, when I read a biography about an author usually they’re not pulling the “separate the artist from the art” move to justify bad behavior.

#4 Musician

What’s the difference between a large cheese pizza and a bass player? A pizza can feed a family of four. That sums up society’s opinion of most musicians, however there’s also the odd thing of even the worst laziest giant loser of a man can get laid like crazy if they just play bass in a 3rd rate punk band. No idea if the same thing is true for women, but the odd social status of not having any future prospects but still having everyone want to mate with you is a very common musician trope. What’s even weirder though is all creative types have the same typically poor future prospects, but musicians have a kind of reality distortion field that protects others from seeing the track marks on their arms and empty bank accounts.

#5 Coder

I see the coder as being almost at the bottom of the social hierarchy but rising, and that upward mobility ends up pissing off everyone else above them. You’ll see nearly every other sector of the creative social class use Twitter, WordPress, and their iPhones to rant about how coders are destroying the world with their technology. When I go to art classes I tell people I’m a writer because if I tell them I’m a programmer they’ll go into a tirade about how “techies” (aka nerds) are raising their rent. I stare at someone on the bus to draw them and they smile and hold still while I do it. I glance at someone at the bus stop while wearing a startup t-shirt and they grimace and hide on the other side of the bus stop because I’m “creepy”. Coders are just at this really weird position in social status that’s upending most of the others, which is why there’s so much love hate. When a programmer does something fucked up that artists, musicians, authors, or trolls do it’s blasted out as the worst in abuse and written about in the press as the end of the world. An artist puts a fucking green butt plug in the middle of Paris and it’s fucking art (which you get to see on Twitter because of some coders).

#6 Nerd

In the end though, everyone gets to hate nerds, and being as I’m a super nerd deep down and a huge dork, none of the social status I should get from the above matters. I’ll demonstrate this by way of a story. I was at Union Square (SF) with my friend Corey, and before we met up I had spent a few hours playing guitar. I had headphones on, so nobody could hear how good or bad I sounded, but I was dressed like a nerd hobo with startup t-shirts, jeans, and the usual uniform. Me and Corey hang out, then I go home and the next day I browse craigslist Missed Connections for that day’s writing ideas when I stumble on a posting by a woman who says, “You were so beautiful. You were hanging out with that weird guy who’s always playing guitar.” There you go, even when I’m playing guitar, I’m the “weird guy who plays guitar” and my friend is “beautiful”. If I paint I’m not a real artist because I’m “too logical”. If I write a book it’s not a “real book” because it’s about programming. Being a nerd is at the bottom of the hierarchy because no matter what I do, my nerdiness coats my creative output with the hot sticky air of the uncool.

The Day Was March 10, 2013

My right hand lay on the bed while my left hand traced the contours of the palm, fingers, nails, skin, and bed sheets. My eyes were fixated entirely on my hand, not the paper, as this was a blind contour drawing. My face was contorted into a wide, weird looking, and intense smile. My brain kept saying, “This is so hilarious! Hahahahahaha!” There wasn’t anything actually funny about a blind contour of my hand. For a reason I cannot explain, when I did this exercise and any drawing I felt an intense feeling of euphoria similar to being tickled, hearing the greatest pun I’ve heard, or being unable to stop laughing.

I’m not left handed, but I was teaching myself to draw from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition, and Betty mentions that I can try drawing with my left hand to convince my brain to actually see what I’m trying to draw. On a whim I decide to try it for the blind contour drawing exercises and end up in a black hole for two weeks experiencing this bizarre giggling euphoria drawing left handed without looking.

This day though, while I was drawing left handed and giggling I also felt an intense feeling of frustration. My right hand kept twitching, my giggling slowed then stopped. I felt this overwhelming urge to use my right hand to draw what I’d been staring at. Now! Fucking let me do it! I grab the pencil out of my left hand with my right, and in 10 seconds right-handed draw a complete fairly accurate drawing of my left hand. I didn’t even think about it. My right hand was on auto pilot and now knew what to do. It sounds like total psuedo-science bullshit, but my right hand had learned the difference between “writing” and “drawing”, and it wanted to be in charge again.

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Even before this I had uncontrollable giggling fits when doing the exercises in the book. At one point I’m instructed to draw a vase that looks like two people kissing, but to do it by naming the parts of the face as I do it. At first I can’t start it, I shake uncontrollably and giggle with a grin that hurts my face it’s so intense. I get this under control and complete the exercise and then immediately do the next one. The sensation is intense, strange, and nobody else I know has this reaction. I asked around, and everyone thinks I’m insane. Nobody reacted that way to learning to draw, which makes me wonder if I have something wrong like frontal lobe epilepsy or a tumor.

In the middle of this left-handed-contour obsession I find out about classes taught by Betty Edward’s son, Brian at drawright.com Brian teaches a five day intensive course that follows Betty’s book and teaches you to draw. The class is eight hours a day and involves some lecture in the morning followed by 4-5 hours of drawing based on the lecture. I immediately sign up as I realize this would accelerate my drawing skills and is a rare opportunity. Brian’s even teaching the class at Fort Mason in San Francisco, so I had no excuses left. I had to go.

The third day of the class I’m sitting on a bench staring at the piers of Fort Mason drawing them in perspective. The first two days of class were full of effort and straining to perceive what was there. This third day, drawing this pier, I felt a doorstop get kicked away from a door I’d been trying to push through. Half-way through the drawing, I calmly, without giggling, but with the euphoria, draw the pier in perspective with measuring and trying to be accurate.

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Right after that, I felt the need to do another drawing of both piers, so I sat there and did a whole drawing without measuring and without any effort.

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I like to say March 10, 2013 was the day I learned to draw, which seems weird that someone would have such an exact date for when they learned to do something. The next day we did portraits, and even today I’m not so great at drawing faces, but the day I drew the pier I felt I had finally learned to do it.

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Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with drawing and painting. Over the last 19 months I have taught myself to paint and draw in oils, watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, pastel, and even Photoshop of all things. I’ve taken classes to get even better at these mediums. I’ve done a weekly figure drawing class to get better at drawing the figure. I spent months going through book after book of every subject I could. I watch more art training videos than I do porn now.

When I was younger, I was told that I didn’t have a single artistic bone in my body. I was a nerd, and nerds to math and aren’t creative. Now I know, that’s total bullshit.

Pastel Figure Drawing