A lot of the time, people use the internet and social media to escape the world they live in, and be themselves. It’s a place for free expression.
In May of 2016, I joined an online group for people who are fans of a TV show. It was a pretty cool website with a chatroom and a nice private messaging system. The show was very popular across the globe, so I met people from tons of different places. When I joined, it was glowing with excitement. A whole wave of new people (including me) had joined at the time, and were all young and eager to make a change in the community.
One of the people already there was VeryAngryShipper. They had joined in late January (2016), so they had been there for quite a long time. She was quite brash, to put it simply. She spoke in the irritated manner that teens often do today, like smh, kms, tbh, etc. Plus, she swore like a sailor. She were very right-wing, too. She was outspoken about everything she believed. If she saw something she disagreed with, you’d know she’d be there to argue about it. When someone was acting irrationally, she’d explain why. Sometimes I’d enter the website and notice that a single post had over fifty comments; most of the time, it was her and someone else, debating the night away. The squabbles usually ended with a tense silence, neither side admitting defeat. To those who disliked her, she was insensitive, too stubborn, and heartless.
Those who took the time to dig a little deeper found something else. Beneath the angry username and the offensive nature lies a simple girl. She was passionate, but not sentimental. Also, she was outstandingly self-deprecating. A hard worker to the core, too. Of course, only a select few even attempted to find this out.
Honestly, I didn't think much of her when I first saw her. It's a free world, we can do and say whatever we want. Not my problem.
Months passed, and Shipper kept looking through posts, and starting flame wars. Time passed, the tension built, until it finally broke. It was August 29th, 2016. The day started with an disagreement with Angry Shipper and another regular on the site. The other person fled to the chatroom, where a few other people were hanging out. They began to change the topic to Shipper, and their fight. Soon, it escalated to everyone spitting out venom, like “Why does she even stay?”
“If she had the ability to shut up for once, everyone could be happy.”
“No one likes her. No one ever did.”
If you’ve even been betrayed by someone you trust, you probably know the feeling of shock. You wonder “why?” over and over again in your head. You begin to believe that you’ll never be able to trust again.
Sometimes life screws you over, and puts you in the wrong place at the wrong time. When she went onto the chatroom that day, her anger was inflamed in ways I couldn’t imagine. Not long after, I saw what they had said. I realized something in those moments. Maybe some people disagreed with almost every one of her beliefs, but she still deserved some kindness. Everyone does.
I messaged her briskly to talk about it.
“I’m really sorry. You were betrayed. That must really hurt. I’m not going to beg you to stay, but I made a post bringing attention to what happened. If other people start begging you to come back, I won’t stop them. Whether you return or not is your choice.
So, sorry once again.”
VeryAngryShipper: “I don't see why you have to say sorry. I appreciate it and all, but you shouldn’t apologize for the people who honestly don’t like me”
“I don’t know when i’ll be coming back, or even if I will be coming back. It’s probably best for the you guys if I stay away anyways.”
“I probably sound really edgy right now.”
“No, it’s fine. I respect your opinion.”
“You can take as much time as you want off. It’ll probably be good to take some space. But you can come back to us and we’ll welcome you.”
“(Well… I’LL welcome you. One thing I'm sure of is you won't come back to hate).”
VeryAngryShipper: “ha that’s good to know, one person appreciates me c;”
She was gone, and I couldn't blame her. Who would want to? I wanted to try and get her to stay. I knew that it wasn't right to stop her. I let her be, and went to bed.
The next day, I followed my procedure of checking the site. There was a page for most everything, so I wandered through many pages till I spotted something on the anime page that caught my eye. Sure enough, I saw Shipper, posting awkwardly, out of place. I knew that it was normal for her to post, but not on the Anime page. She hated that place! I was vexed. I looked around, and at her posts till I found an answer. She had posted in the Emotional Support Group.
The Emotional Support Group is where people go for, of course, emotional support. Whether it’s for depression, or self harm, or anything else, it’s probably been there.
She said, “Turns out the website I use 24/7 and have been on for months, that has the people I love and care for and consider family, has been trash talking me behind my back in the chatroom, calling me annoying, and cancer.
“I’m not even sure how long it’s been going on or what else they have said.”
I felt a wave of rage wash over me. Those people in the chat were people she had considered as friends and people she trusted. She was able to feel like she belonged. And then, it got torn away. I took a screenshot and posted it to the page. “I feel pretty damn terrible about Angry Shipper. Am I the only one?” I asked, Then I went to bed; it was a long night.
The next time I checked the page, I was awestruck. I expected my post to get attention, but the amount was astounding. The whole place was full of apologies and mourning. Everyone was going crazy. One person said: “Has it really come to this? To the point in which people choose they must leave us?”
“When I found out, I had just woken up, the post itself just punched me in the gut?”
“I've been in too many good communities of people that just broke down, never to be the same again or just died down and I really don’t want that to happen again.”
“I think it’s time we address how much we’re willing to make the group better. I don’t want someone else to leave because they felt unwelcome or disliked.”
“VeryAngryShipper. I’ll miss you way too much than is healthy for me.”
I went straight back to Shipper, this time with the goal to get her to come back.
“OKAY I SAID I WOULDN’T BEG BUT THE STATE OF THE GROUP IS IN IS DEPRESSING”
“I AM TO BLAME”
“CHECK THE GROUP”
“THE MORALE BOOST WILL HELP EVERYONE”
“Come back before it’s too late”
VeryAngryShipper: “I don’t think you're to blame at all… don’t put yourself down :c”
“Checking will just make me miss everyone more lmao”
“THEY MISS YOU TOO”
“YOU WILL GET A WARM WELCOME”
“THIS TIME I AM 95% SURE”
VeryAngryShipper: “probably more of a 60%”
“I doubt a lot of m’bois would care or realize”
“NO GO BACK AND SCROLL DOWN A BUNCH”
“They said what I want you to hear”
“(Well, typed what I want you to read)”
“Well, are you back in the group now?”
Shipper: “heGhHh I don’t know broooo”
“What do you mean ‘I don't know broooo’”
Shipper: “well I mean”
“I miss all of you, I really do”
“But I don’t want to be an inconvenience to those who don’t like me and ruin the environment with my cancerous attitude”
“Well, there are a few options. You can stay away, if you truly feel that way, but not completely disappear. Come back every once in awhile. Check the feed, make comments, enter the chatroom, etc.”
“You can also come back, but not post as much as you used to. In my opinion, the cringe posts were where the problem started, so if you don't do that, you may be fine”
“You can also act the same as you used to, but that’s riskier and you probably don't want that.”
“One last alternative is completely moving on from this all, maybe to another fandom or leaving fandoms altogether.”
“I don’t really want the last one, but knowing you, you could do well in the real world”
“Half the cringe posts were satire tbh, I don't get how that wasn't obvious.”
“I think the problem is, is I WANT to act myself. I can’t act the way I do on here IRL because tbh, I'm really quiet and shy, and have pretty bad anxiety. Like most people, the internet is where I can be myself and say what I want. But now I know my personality is garbage so I can’t even act myself here.”
“I really doubt I could move on from here. I love it too much. Even when I almost left when someone sent me death threats I couldn't push myself to leave.”
“Well, post a sincere apology, then. Make a choice based off the reactions to that.”
“Apologize for what? My sh*tty personality? Lmao”
I’ll prepare a post when I can. Or whenever I think of what to say.”
“(I'm sorry for forcing you to do all this. It’s been a really long day…)”
“It’s fine I just haven’t been feeling well today. Not to mention I'm anxious of whether or not to come back. I still can’t get that voice out of my head telling me people don’t like me.”
“I just need time tonight to think and write something up for everyone.”
“Okay. I’ll stop messaging you in the meantime.”
I did all I could. I helped her as much as possible. I went to bed, knowing I did the right thing. When I woke up, I saw the final letter she made:
Apology to Everyone
I’m sorry for starting this whole mess.
Me being the asshole I am, and making repetitive memes which people couldn't tell were satire, caused people to talk behind my back in the chatroom. I walked in on it, and found out my closest friends on here who I consider family hate me and find me annoying and consider me the cancer of the group. That’s cold man, real cold. I assumed everyone here thought that about me. So, I left. I was probably overreacting, but that doesn't mean I didn't feel betrayed.
I know, my personality is trash, I understand that now, I'm annoying, and the cancer of the group. I’ll accept that. I’ll grow to love that. Just as I grew to being the “asshole of the group” and the “giant hate magnet”. It’s fine.
I’m sorry that I made some of you feel bad. I guess some of you felt guilt for some reason, even if you weren't the ones trash talking me in the chatroom. I’m sorry some of you felt that way, you guys never deserve that and I don’t want the people I grew to think of as family to feel bad for something they didn’t do.
I might not express how I truly feel often, but that’s just… me. I don’t like getting all… personal and emotional. I just find it awkward, embarrassing even, so I just brush things off as a joke. But this is real talk, and I love you guys.
I admit, I have trust issues. I've always had problems trusting people. Not to mention talking to people online. So… after all this. I can't guarantee everything will be the same between me and certain people. But that doesn’t mean I won’t love you guys.