Last night I publicly accused someone of stealing one of my tweets. What I didn’t mention at the time is that I had seen six other examples of the same thing—tweets that were tweaked in minor ways but that ultimately were too similar to the originals to be accidental. This person has deleted the other offending tweets, which means I have no “proof,” as it were. So hey, take my word for it, or don’t.
To those who have said I am overreacting, I have to disagree. As many have pointed out, we all share ideas with one another on Twitter. We borrow from our favorite tweeters, sometimes subconsciously and sometimes as an homage. If someone wants to riff on something I’ve posted, I’m not going to call him or her out. That’s not plagiarism, in my mind. But I have a hard time believing anyone can read a tweet, wait a month, and tweet something that is exactly the same with one or two words changed. Again, I’m not only referring to my tweet, but to several others I compared with the originals.
But enough about that. I’m done talking about this person. If you feel like I’m off my rocker, that’s your prerogative, and if you agree with me, you can proceed as you see fit. I am, on the other hand, really bothered that I’ve been labeled a “bully” because of this. I have an incredibly difficult time standing up for myself—something I’m working to change—and it sucks that my attempt to right a wrong, to reclaim credit for my work, is somehow being construed as bullying.
As much as I appreciate the public consciousness about bullying, I’m resentful of the fact that “bully” has become a meaningless catch-all term. What began as a campaign in response to the rash of young queer people killing themselves has been co-opted by the mainstream. Of course, straight people get bullied, too, and all forms of bullying are wrong. But let’s call a spade a spade, and not get caught up in a buzz word without appreciating the connotation.
I don’t talk about being bullied often, mostly because I find enough other mundane shit to complain about. And I’ve lived a pretty positive life for a chubby gay Jew. So I’ll be brief. Here is what it means to be bullied: Being called a “faggot” all throughout middle school and high school. Being mocked for your inability to catch a ball, or to run a mile in the right amount of time. Having anonymous people on the internet call you a “fat fuck with no friends.” Getting laughed at because you wore the wrong clothes. And your hairstyle is dated. And sometimes you don’t know how to talk without stammering.
Being assertive is not the same thing as being a bully, and frankly, I’m pissed off that anyone would accuse me of that. I make an effort to be nice to as many people as I can. I’m far from perfect, and I can certainly be an asshole, but I would never go out of my way to make someone feel worse about who he or she is. The only criticism I lodged against the aforementioned tweeter was based on plagiarism—behavior that is universally regarded as rather shitty, and that can easily be corrected. (It’s simple: stop stealing!)
I make mistakes. I say the wrong things. And at the end of the day, I am an insecure ball of neuroses who’s honestly just trying to do his best to not fuck it up. If I’ve wronged you, feel free to let me know. But don’t call me a bully. That’s one thing I know I’m not.