When your colleagues turn into trolls

Hi all! I don’t normally post personal things on here, but this last few days I’ve experienced some horrible comments from two co-workers. What started as a copied tweet, which was then misunderstood by the two, then became personal. I’ve taken out full names and just used the first letter from their first name are left in (apart from mine). See what you think:

ORIGINAL POST: To anyone getting their GCSEs today, just remember – for every single job you ever apply for, for the rest of your lives, you only ever need a C in Maths & English. The rest are forgotten about. Good luck all the same! [GCSE’s are exams taken by UK pupils around their 15-16 birthdays. The day this post appeared was on the results day. This post received 6 Likes and several “So true!” comments. Then, enter colleague M…]

M: Where did you get this info from! This is wrong, Richard!

Richard (that would be me!): If you have taken offence of the comment (borrowed from Twitter via many other people) then I’m sorry you reacted that way. But, the majority of jobs require basic GCSE Maths and English grades C and above. I was simply pointing out that these are the main one’s most employers require. You do need A Levels to progress higher ie uni. I’ve got my Theatre Studies, Business Studies and English Language A Level, which led onto a degree in Drama and English Language (with Honours) AND then my P.Cert.Lam, specialising in Greek Theatre, studied at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). Although I work where I work now, my qualifications and 10 years+ of teaching experience allow me to teach Drama privately and run after school theatre groups.

M: Oooh, impressive – NOT !!!!!!!!!!!

Richard (me again): That was below the belt, wasn’t it, M? I’m very pleased with my qualifications, training, and experience. I’m also very pleased with my plays (some produced – and some have gained media attention), and my film dealing with depression in young men.

I take pride in my drama groups and my pupils, (whether they are 8 or 16), who come to their class not only to enjoy the art, but to also escape their home lives. I give them an environment where they can explore, create and express themselves through drama – knowing that they are in a safe place where their creativity is not frowned upon, or laughed at; or some cases would lead to a heavy hand from a parent.

I work in that office to provide extra financial support for my family, to ensure our daughter has a secure future and that I can support my wife whilst she studies to become a doctor. (And you do need a GCSE grade C or above in Maths and English before you can start any course).

There are people in that office who are well over qualified and experienced to work on those contracts – but we all have our reasons to be there.

[Colleague E now joins in – who, by the way, is 65 years old…]

E: And with all those qualifications you end up working as a c s a oh my [C S A – Customer Service Advisor]

Richard: As I said above – it’s extra financial support. I don’t start until 6pm! I’ve the whole day to run my groups, or prepare classes, or put pen to paper. I love my family so much I’d do anything to support them and give them a better quality of living.

Colleague E, defending herself, talks to M: He deserved it put stupid comment on saying whatever results you get in GCSE future employers will only look to see if you got a c or higher how soul destroying is that !!!!!and you know what he’s was born into money and he’s does the same job as me after all his good education made me spit feathers it did

[Hmm, very, very not true. But, after a few more personal attacks made to my family (and parents) I then felt I had to reply…]

Richard: Oh E and M – you have a taken a comment that was said by so many people on FB and Twitter, and have taken it for ‘fact’. I don’t normally defend myself – but I feel you have both aimed this personally at my family and I.

The original comment is a simple light hearted observation of the world today – although one can work hard at their exams and course work, employers ‘generally’ ask for Maths and English GSCE in grades C or above.

But not all, as we all know.

It was a side joke that employers tend to ask for this in the job specifications. Sometimes these grades are ‘essential’ or just ‘desirable’. Either way, if you had looked into it more (instead of seeing it at face value), you would have realised this. I even added a ‘good luck’ to all those getting their results – I genuinely meant it.

I took my GCSE’s back in 1995 and, unlike today’s high standards of results, my only A grade was in Music – my lowest a D in Graphic Design. But I sacrificed the Graphic Design to concentrate on my Music and other grades. This was, for me, an outstanding achievement. Even more impressed were my parent’s, of course – as our father left school before taking O Levels (whereas our mother did complete her O Levels).

This was also an achievement to me as I was, technically, 2 years behind everyone else in my classes. I was 2 years behind socially and academically. (But hey, having undiagnosed Asperger’s never stopped me from plodding along in my own happy bubble).

At A Level [exams taken at 18 before university] I worked REALLY hard, whilst battling a few mental demons – but only managed D, D and E grades. Gutted, yes – but I went onto university and made up for them.

[I just want to add here that by ‘mental demons’, I mean depression. This is something that I’ve had since my teenage years. I used to regularly self-harm, and on one occasion tried to commit suicide. I self harm much less now – I am 34! – and thoughts of suicide still creep into my head, but comments like these have just very nearly pushed me to self harming again, having not done so for nearly 2 years]

Now, you say that “These young kids deserve to be given a chance” – yes, I totally agree! One of the many reasons I teach! As for kids “reading [my] statement” this cannot happen as I don’t have any of my students on Facebook. This is wrong and seriously breaks the teacher/student trust.

You then made – what some might say hurtful – comments about my family. This is not true – where on Earth did draw such a conclusion from? I was not born into money – what a ludicrous statement to make! I grew up in a working class area, in a house smaller than where I live right now – and where my parents did what they could to support me and my brother. They were, and always have been, self employed. They have never had to work for anyone before. My father is only 4 years younger than you, E – he works 6-7 days a week, stood on his feet all day, and makes his business work. And he’s being doing this since he was 14 years old. They’ve worked hard for what they deserve.

If I had some money, do you not think we would spend it on ourselves? My wife, daughter and I – in the past 12 years – have only had TWO family holidays. And both times they were for a week away in a cottage. Born into money? What a complete joke – My wife and I take deep offense at that.

Clearly, you don’t really know me at all – so I suggest you stop judging me.

I can imagine how you are reacting to this – we’ve all heard how you talk about your colleagues and managers behind their backs, the moment that they are out of ear shot. I’m not going to do that, which is why I’m posting this here for all to read.

Over a simple, throw away comment, both you and M have turned this personally against my family and I. As I have always said on my Facebook profile, my personal blog and my website:

“Everyone is welcome to read, listen, observe and pass their own thoughts and ideas on anything and everything. Just remember, if you don’t like what you’re reading – then don’t read it! I like to post thoughts and ideas, theories and scientific fact, things we can agree on and some things we can’t. Whether the posts are deemed entertaining, factual, odd – or even controversial – I’m just posting the things that are of interest to me. Just because I post it, it doesn’t always mean I agree with it. Sometimes I’m just putting it out there.”

I’m sorry that you have misunderstood the original post’s intention – I guess that comedy, humour, irony and satire are not to everybodys taste.

M: Hey E he is just a “pretentious prick” don’t waste your energy’s on him parents “rich” i don’t think so!!  have deleted him off facebook do the same

[Funnily, M hadn’t actually deleted me off – just removed as a friend. So yes, I could still see her comments!]

E: well richard comedy ! what is comical in a child worrying for months hoping they h as ve done there best . then on the day the results are due out some prat puts a stupid comment on facebook di f2f  we didnt misunderstand at all we took it for what it was a nasty comment .but all i have read is what you have done well you know what so what you didnt like any criticism fid you quick to retaliate and then being nasty again get as life and grow up i

Richard: By the way – your comments both on my status and your’s are set to ‘Everyone’ – you haven’t set your privacy settings to ‘friends only’ or ‘custom’. Thought you should know as search engines can pick this up, as can anyone on Facebook.

E: so true because i thought people should see. you for what you are a nasty minded person who doesnt seem to care about other peoples feelings !!

Richard: For someone who does not know me at all – you are a very judgemental person. Maybe this is an age thing, I don’t know. You are the only person – ever – in my entire life, to have used the words “nasty minded person” to describe me. I am a very caring soul, who holds no grudge against others.

I find that those who troll on social media sites are often describing themselves – and take out the bitterness of their own lives, out on others.

It’s sad to say that I’m not actually shocked by your negativity. To that end – as this conversation holds no constructive and meaningful statements from one side – I shall bid you adieu, as this is quickly turning into a Restoration comedy… xx

Today – 26th August 2013

This was over the weekend. BUT TODAY, when I briefly saw E, she first said “I’m sorry, Richard, I didn’t know you had autism”. (Said like it was a disease or a curse!)

I had to quickly correct her, and tell her that Asperger’s Syndrome, although is on the autistic spectrum, has it’s differences-

But she cut in and said that “I just read it online that people with autism have no feelings and cannot understand other people’s feelings. That’s why you said these things…”

Some other personal things were said here, and I tried to explain that she was the one (with M) who was taking it out on me. I told her about my suicide attempt and self harming. Did she listen? No.

I’m just glad that the whole conversation was picked up and recorded.

Naturally, the Facebook comments were seen by several friends, and here’s all the replies thus far:

“FFS cant believe this status generated this! I liked it and took it in the spirit it was meant – I read it as positive – like don’t stress if you haven’t got all A stars – and it was true – I recruit and our job person specifications ask for C or above at Maths and English. I got a whole bunch of other qualifications that no one has ever asked about and my rubbish A level grades never mattered – I’ve never had to even show certificates………Some people!”

“I can’t believe the comments generated off the back of that post!!! I was an absolute wreck when I done my GCSE’s as all I was told was ‘you have to get the grades to make it in this world’ and I can honestly say nobody has ever made a comment on my grades in the 14 years since they were attained yet I’m doing pretty well!! I will make sure that when I’m lucky enough to become a parent I will make sure they know that he/she can do anything they put their mind too but not at the expense of their health! Oh and I for one like your post and also when you share others!! If there is ever a time I don’t I simply scroll past… Simple”

“Oh Richard, who are these people? I saw your original comment, it made me smile – funny because it’s true – and having read the above, think you have handled yourself with dignity. Unlike your correspondents. They’re clearly not worth my further consideration so I’ll stop. All the best to you and yours.”

“I feel sorry for her. Ignorance and stupidity is a dangerous combination…..”

(And via Reditt): “As someone diagnosed with AS, this pissed me off rather severely (Oh, wait, except I apparently don’t have feelings. Silly me!). I’ve encountered a few people like this during my uni studies – most of them were actually instructors, and it saddens me that supposedly educated people come to these ridiculous conclusions about others.”

So, there you have it. The urge to self-harm has been pushed back (for now) as, by typing all this, it has helped in some way. Sorry for any ranting!

– Richard 

Stop trolling

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