Some months back, I met someone in a FB group who liked interactions with me. She asked if we could friend each other. I was excited. It had been a long time since I had made a friend. I went back to my FB expecting the sort of things FB friends do – liking posts about family, talking about life, etc. I did what people tell me to do to make friends, show that I can be a friend. I thought it was odd that no matter my comments or interactions, she never responded. But maybe she was like me and not great at social.
After a while, I noticed a worrying trend. My new friend would bait people to say something racist or bigoted then mock teach them using bully language. I tried to ignore this assuming I was missing something because she did this with her FB friends as well as strangersontheinternet. Then, one day I was responding to something in one of her threads and she responded! to tell me that Boo was AAVE. My husband’s name is BooBoo. [ETA] If she had read any of my posts about my husband she would have already known this. And as a friend I would have expected her to yell at me in those posts. [/ETA] It’s been BooBoo for 43 years. But. I am aware of how things stand right now so I felt bad. Really bad. Since she didn’t respond to my brief explanation and sorriness, I did what you do with friends, I sent her a message. Her response was epic in length and pretty obviously copy pasta. The content was what you would say to someone who is not me. “I don’t have to educate you. I have a busy life as a SJW. You should educate yourself.”
After I stopped crying that I hurt my friend because it was a while before I got the whole picture, I continued on trying to find another name for my husband that wouldn’t hurt people except him because he was upset that the name his sisters gave him was being raked over on the internet. I noticed a trend. This person friending people, then not interacting with them until they said something problematic in one of her threads. Then, starting another friendly thread with people that she was obviously “real” friends with and bragging about what she did. They would give her pats on the back for taking the time and tell her how SJW she was.
She is that bully. The one that pretends to be your friend, then when you wear the wrong eyeshadow, mocks you relentlessly in front of her friends so they will pat her on the back. I unfriended her. I still felt bad about it though because so many of my social justice FB friends and people I follow love her. I feel bad about that too. How can they love someone like my dad who waited around corners for me to do something he didn’t like so he could hit me then tell me it was for my own good? I still don’t understand it.
If she saw this post, I’m sure her response would be “white fragility” because that’s the thing right now isn’t it? Except this had nothing to do with me being white, she is white also, it had *everything* to do with her pretending to be my friend. My friends, whether they are bloggers who don’t really interact much with me or my friends, will call me out, in a mean voice if necessary but they don’t act like I’m some stranger. They friended me for a reason – they wanted to be friends. They didn’t friend me so they could make some points off of their other friends like every bully that ever existed.
I’m going to guess, because I want to believe that almost everyone in my friends list wants to be my friend, that most of those who praise her have never seen the threads where she brags about causing her own friends to “flounce”. “I can always tell!!” that was the last comment of hers that I read.
Maybe I failed her. She is a young woman with a harder life than mine. Maybe I should have stayed and somehow taught her not to bully. Every trigger I have was getting pushed and it just wasn’t a fight I could take up. Hopefully she doesn’t teach her kids how to bully. But I’m not hopeful. Almost every bully I ever met had a bully parent.
Here I am, I know if I reveal who this is, a lot of my friends will say “white fragility” even though I explained that race had nothing to do with it — and she is white femme just like me. I think it is fragility on my part. The fragility of the bullied. The fragility of the ones who friend and get shoved in the toilet instead of friended back. The fragility of the people who believe what people say except when the paranoia comes.