I found out yesterday that my friend Kim has been harassed online for almost a year now. She told me she’s received death threats. I saw someone tenuously connected to my own social networks call her an “asshole” online. I did a little digging and found the pathetically immature web site specially created by her harassers to continue their vendetta. They steal pictures from her blog, openly compare her to white supremacist organizations, and generally just act like twelve year olds mad because they are deeply threatened by a girl in their class beating them in the science fair. This, a year after she wrote the article that got their panties in such a wad.
What was this article about?
The article was three paragraphs of conjecture about why snowboarding is turning out to be less popular than skiing these days, why after a decade of growth, the snowboard industry is declining. The article suggested that maybe people were finding it annoying to have to strap and unstrap bindings just to get on the chairlift, scoot one-legged across traverses, and unstrap completely and walk across flat ground skiers can skate across in seconds, and that maybe these things were turning people off to snowboarding. Please note that all of those things are true, and they sure look like a pain in the ass to me.
But to these Mean Boys of the Internet who, by the way, are too afraid to show their faces on their own site (one of them appears in a ski mask modeling a shirt they’re trying to shill for their “cause,” wow, John Wayne would be so proud of what passes for a tough guy these days), anything less than genuflecting in admiration of the weekend diversion that is snowboarding is worthy of non-stop harassment.
I pondered last night what I would be willing to go to such lengths to defend. What sport or activity means so much to me that I would be mortally offended if someone else didn’t like it? I thought and thought. I came up with absolutely nothing. Nothing! Not one thing that I like is so sacred that someone else can’t dislike it without fear of me putting on a mask and launching an Internet harassment crusade. Who cares THAT MUCH?
But the thing is, Kim didn’t even say she didn’t like snowboarding. She just discussed her thoughts on why it was declining in popularity. That’s it! For this, a bunch of dudes – yes, all dudes – call her nasty names and threaten her with violence.
Then I imagine how such a person must really be motivated to do something like this. Kim said I put it concisely in my email to her, so here it is:
You got death threats? I mean…really? Let’s say, just for laughs, that you DO hate snowboarding and you ARE glad it’s on the down-swing. So? So what if you do? Who cares enough to make death threats?? God!
What sticks out to me is that those people (all dudes, from what I can see) are really jealous of you. You’re a high level ski patroller, the dream job every outdoors slacker thinks he wants, and you’re a woman, which they clearly can’t stand seeing as how you’ve achieved what they can’t. And of course, your husband owns a ski resort, which just tips them over the edge into sociopathic behavior because they will never, ever, in a million years, have what you have, and I’m not talking about money, either. They’re so jealous they don’t know what to do with themselves. (I’m jealous too, but in a loving, “Kim’s so awesome” kind of way, don’t worry.) They cannot possibly be THAT offended by someone’s three-paragraph opinion on why snowboarding is flatlining. It’s just not possible.*
These people really cannot handle anything other than self-deprecating, passive behavior from women. Your voice is confident and that KILLS them inside. It makes them feel like less, which really is their own problem, but they try to bully and intimidate to reduce YOUR voice in an attempt to make their own seem louder. It’s just gross.
*It’s possible. I know. People ARE that stupid.
Hey, idiots who harass Kim. What would your mothers think? Would you pull up to the dining room table next Thanksgiving and gleefully regale your parents with the story of how brave you are, attacking a woman online with vile insults and personal attacks, all the time hiding your face and identity, and giggling about how the place you pay to go skiing doesn’t know it’s you, that every time a liftie scans your ski pass you feel strong, like you’re thwarting the system and bravely fighting the universal injustices that a) not everyone agrees with you about everything and b) people can freely express their opinions even if they differ from yours? Would you proudly put your actions on your resume for future employers to peruse? If you think you’re doing nothing wrong, how about unmasking yourselves and having a little conversation with the local police about how you’re justified in making threats of violence and murder?
As for me, I’m gonna go ahead and say it, just because I CAN, and because sad little bullies don’t get to silence other people.
Snowboarding looks like a pain in the ass. I tried it and didn’t like it at all. It doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. I don’t even think it looks good. So? WHO CARES?
If you want to snowboard I really don’t care. Have at it. It’s your option. I ski with friends who snowboard all the time. My best friend in the whole wide world switched from skiing to boarding and I still love her. I share the bunny hill with snowboard instructors while I teach skiing. There are plenty of people learning to snowboard and I have no opinion on whether they should or not. If they want to put up with the downsides of the sport, I really don’t give a shit. I don’t have any personal feelings towards anyone who snowboards other than mild irritation at the tendency of boarders to stand right in the way of everyone else when strapping and unstrapping, and sitting on their asses in the middle of runs so no one else can ski there, which, I must point out, isn’t a personal objection at all. It’s the behavior I don’t like, it’s endemic to the sport of snowboarding, and it’s annoying. But that’s it. I’d have to be a genuinely crazy person to suggest that they are wrong for liking snowboarding or that I’m wrong for liking skiing and NOT liking snowboarding. But I also don’t have to pretend that I think snowboarding is great. Big news! I don’t! If that makes your brain combust in rage (which I doubt it does; people who read my site typically don’t think like that) because what I just wrote threatens your very sense of self and the privilege with which you were obviously raised to think you deserve, then you need psychiatric counseling at a minimum. End of story.
There, big tough guys who harass Kim online. I don’t like your sport AND I think you, personally, are stupid, nasty, pathetic little powerless bullies who need to start over, go back to infanthood, and get raised properly because your parents clearly did a shitty job. Let me have it, from behind your greasy, stinky ski mask and your grimy overused keyboard. You are awful human beings and I truly hope you get your comeuppance someday. Kim says she feels a little sorry for you, but I don’t. You’re making your beds. Having to lie in them is really going to suck for you.
As to why snowboarding is less popular now? I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with the quality of person making up its fan base. I wouldn’t want to hang around those people, either.