I was recently in a photo shoot featuring breast cancer survivors who had endured a double mastectomy with out breast reconstruction. The photoshoot went viral and network after network supported the efforts of the movement to showcase these incredible women.
But the feedback wasn't all positive.
The breast cancer survivor models received comments calling them troll-ish, chimp-like, ugly and more in online forums and in article comment sections.
I think it's fair to have personal opinions, but needless to say a lot of the commentary is unnecessary. So after one of the BC survivors, Melly from the campaign, called me upset over what they were reading, I decided to write this letter to all of the internet trolls.
When you are on your deathbed with your loved ones, and you wish you had five more seconds for those last words, just think of this. You wasted that time you could've had picking on a woman who had survived breast cancer. Congratulations. Enjoy your carpal tunnel.
NEWS FLASH! You live in such a beautiful existence and you don't even realize it! My guess is that you have access to technology as you did respond to the article, you have a functioning brain as you can articulate your thoughts, and you are unlikely to be starving at a refuge camp. Things seem pretty good!
Look I get it... It's a world that's all about you. So be selfish. Get the best out of life. Surprisingly, (hold onto your jeans) it is in your best interest to be kind to the people around you. When you are you promote happiness and happinessness promotes peace... which means more physical safety for you when you walk the streets all alone at night.
You know many people are on the brink of losing it already? Have you been watching the news? You willing to take a chance on being that straw that broke the dam and dealing with a potential sniper on the loose in your area? Take the stress off yourself, kid. Seriously. You don't need to invite into your life the worry that one of the people that you upset might be so disgruntled at your commentary one day that they hunt you down and flay you. Don't set yourself up for fear like that. Protect yourself. After all, you're the most precious cargo on the planet.
When you promote kindness you create a world for yourself that's less likely to result in finding pubes put into your food at a restaurant. Or rather your takeout delivery that you had delivered to that slimy rock you live under and never leave because you live a very important existence sharing your hateful words on the Internet. Full-time job. I know. Hey sexy singles, look no further. This one is gainfully employed!
Take care of your beautiful body. Carpal tunnel is real my friends! Don't waste the good years of nimble fingers on a computer screen. There are better things to wear out the cartilage in your digits -- like masturbation and nose picking... and poking people (in real life -- not on Facebook). Or hitchhiking into the wilderness where they don't have computers for your grubby fingers to communicate through.
If it's power and control you seek, and you get off at the idea that your judgmental words may actually make someone cry or commit harmful acts to themselves, then maybe consider joining the kink community instead. People actually would enjoy your humiliating words, and hate speech. Plus you could make a lot of money. A light flogging might feel right. $5 for 5 minutes with Madame Butterfly. It might be good for you.
I know being the bad guy these days is more attractive than ever with scripts like Mega Mind and Wicked selling that the bad guys are the misunderstood ones. But those stories only end positively because the characters choose not to be an asshole in the end. Just like you can.
Don't worry, when you stop being a troll, you can still get the attention you are seeking in your comments. For example, try going streaking, not only is it liberating but it's also a great way to get a bunch of people you don't know commenting about how indecent you are and feeling shocked. (Just like online) You might also get arrested doing it... but hey, great chance to get even more attention in the jail cell.
Don't waste your precious non-regainable time. Because
-- Your comments won't rid the world of breast cancer survivors.
-- They won't change the fact that these beautiful people have endured a struggle with a life threatening disease.
-- They won't change the fact that this is their story, and that simply by existing they are inspiring the world.
-- They won't change the fact that this is their body now.
Why should they be ashamed? Are they supposed to spend the rest of their lives moping about and hiding in a burlap bag? Never to be happy or confident about their bodies again? If this is the case then remember to start your obligatory depression phase and immediately end your prospective love life in a year or two if arthritis cripples your beautiful little hate speech typing hands from your frequent forum frolics. If you were to comment on your own hands, you would likely say, "Put a bag over those digits!" Or maybe over you head! Disgusting!
You have no right to be proud of yourself! Go into hiding! Get a dog sled and go into the deepest parts of the arctic. Maybe just live like a mole person that's probably a safer idea. You shouldnt find a way to own your arthritis or love yourself again! You don't get an Oprah moment! (Dang you're harsh on yourself aren't you??) Would you talk to yourself or let others talk to you like that you perfect perfect god you? How would you treat someone who ragged on you like that?
The thing is that you are a troll. And therefore because you sit under this mystery bridge shroud of Internet anonymity, I have no idea what you look like. You could be any race, age, size, or configuration of being. I'll never know. And neither will Melly from the breast cancer awareness campaign. The person (who is technically a stranger to you) that you made fun of. But what I do know, is that if you were a stranger in a car accident, Melly would call 9-1-1 for you.
If you were a stranger that was crying on the train, Melly would ask if you were alright. Or if you were a stranger whos grocery bags broke and dumped everything onto the pavement, Melly would help you pick the stuff up off the ground. Most importantly, if you were a random stranger and someone called you a troll or a chimp or ugly in public, Melly would stand up for you and tell you not to listen to them. That you are beautiful.
Just think about that. Please don't crush this person or any stranger online anymore... You may be crushing someone who could love you one day. You could be creating a world that says its ok to crush you too -- and we both know you're way too precious to allow that to happen to.
Jennifer Lee/Cory Wade/Rain Dove photo by : Pete Hopkins