Note: This post may be considered off topic by some and if you are interested only in how this post relates to the blog, skip to the final two paragraphs.
Access to healthcare is a right, not a privilege to my mind. The U.S. is lagging shamefully behind such countries as Colombia, Iceland and Cuba when it comes to healthcare access. To make matters worse, there is a social stigma associated with seeking mental healthcare in this country which reduces further the number of people who receive needed services.
The reason I bring this up is because there are likely many people in the animal welfare community, as there are in all walks of life, in need of mental healthcare. And with severely diminished access due to governmental and societal failures, there are probably very few receiving the care they need.
I am not in any way qualified to diagnose the mental health status of individuals who target someone for harassment on social media outlets and create multiple fake profiles to “agree” with themselves. But as a human being, I know it’s wrong. And as a friend, I know that this tactic has caused serious pain to some individuals in the animal welfare community.
There is an expectation in social media venues that one must be willing to slough off the haters because no matter what, haters gonna hate, right? I agree with that sentiment to an extent. No one should expect that everyone is going to support all their viewpoints and speaking only for myself, I would not want that. How else can I continue to grow and learn unless I am challenged to expand my worldview from time to time? And I can certainly deal with the occasional odd duck.
But there is a difference between someone responding to an individual with a comment such as, “Have you ever considered X in addition to Y?” and someone making personal attacks and creating fake profiles to inflict greater hurt by posting additional personal attacks. That difference is obvious to me as I suspect it is to many here.
What I am coming to is this: I fear it is only a matter of time before someone in the animal welfare community commits suicide after being relentlessly targeted and harassed by these fake profile idiots. That may sound extreme to some but on the other hand, how does anyone know it hasn’t already happened? And if I don’t say it outright and plain, I’m just as guilty of stigmatizing mental health as those I blame for doing it. So there it is.
The relevance to the blog is that I am going to start restricting comments from anyone I suspect of maintaining a fake profile for the purpose of harassing someone in the animal welfare community. I don’t like limiting discussion but I don’t want my blog to be the place that someone who’s been victimized by these anonymous cowards comes only to find more of the same they are trying to escape elsewhere. Differing opinions and disagreement is fine. Targeting an individual for harassment, and especially using fake profiles to do it, is not. There will be zero tolerance for this kind of thing from here on out – no warnings, no nothing. If you engage in what I view as harassment, you are out of here.
And a personal note to anyone who has been targeted by these fake profile asshats – you are not alone. There are more of us than there are of them – that’s why they have to make up fake names, yo. If you need mental health care and have access to it, take care of yourself. The animal welfare community needs you. Don’t give up.