When you attract the not-so-welcome attention…
Every time I get an email about something I’ve written or an inquiry from other researchers, I have a moment of surprise that someone is actually paying attention to something I did. Even those small things are rewarding because it demonstrates they have given thought to my words and, beyond that, have taken the time to tell me so. I love when it’s positive since it’s far more motivating to want to write when you’re mad. So, the happy notes do make me very happy. Even the constructive criticism, framed in a professional way, is also appreciated. That’s important and necessary feedback. Besides most of the blog comments from people telling me I’m an idiot and don’t know what I’m talking about, there have been other cases where the attention has not been welcome.
I have not had the best exchanges with the Bigfoot/cryptozoology community. On one particular Bigfoot blog that is unmoderated, I’ve experienced the typical base commentary from a small number of pathetic men behind their keyboards. It was clear they didn’t much care for the opinions of a skeptical woman. A few other Bigfoot types have made similar sexist comments. I’ve also been called a “scoftic” (scoffer+skeptic), of course, with the “unbeliever” label stressed to pre-color my work (or poison the well, if you will), and had my picture included in commentary for added effect. No big deal. I do my stuff. If they don’t like it, if they don’t like my opinion, or if they don’t like that it’s coming from a woman, I do not give a damn. If I whined and made a fuss about every time someone put me down or some dude made what MIGHT be construed as a sexist comment, I’d get nothing constructive done.
Along with the occasional crank emails (which are often VERY amusing) and the Mabus harassment (which was not), there are those out of the ordinary moments that make me pause and wonder about people.
After I had a letter to the editor published in my local paper regarding the asinine “Year of the Bible” resolution passed in my state, I received a card at my home address inviting me to seek Jesus. No harm done but someone took the time to find me which was a little weird.
Just recently, I received a call on my home phone. The person, a man, gave me his name, told me to look him up on Google. Meanwhile, he talked constantly for about 10 minutes, rambling on about various topics of conspiracy. He had found me via a story I had written for Doubtful News. He told me that he had additional information that I would be interested in and told me more. But it made little sense, was delivered in a fairly incoherent (even though he was very articulate) stream of ideas, and, clearly, I wasn’t grasping the point. When I asked what he wanted from me, he went deeper into government conspiracy mode. Then, he revealed he “knew” where I lived and had passed through there frequently. Finally, after nearly 20 minutes I stopped him again to ask just WHAT he wanted me to do about this. That’s when he gave up and said “Nevermind” because it was obvious I “didn’t care”. It’s not that I didn’t care, it was that I don’t have time to listen to run on stories that have no basis in fact. And I didn’t invite you to call my home and tell me about it. Since I do not give my home number out to people, it is invasive to call me at there and assume I’ll be open to talking to you. To suggest you “know” where I live is also threatening and a warped thing to say. How did you think I was going to react?
Soon after, I discovered this guy is a known and rather notorious annoyance to officials and media people for many years now. That actually made me feel better since he’s not been arrested for actually committing a crime. I’m not the only one he bugs, he just does this.
Yesterday, I received a nonthreatening email from someone who has been watching the Virtual Skeptics webcast and has been conducting an unofficial experiment on me. He is attempting to communicate telepathically during the broadcasts. Of course this was unbeknownst to me. According to his conclusions, I have demonstrated that I am “telepathically aware”. Well, gee. That’s nice. Wish I’d known.
The truth is I’m not. I don’t think there is a psychic sense that can transcend physical laws of time and distance and be uninhibited by environmental conditions.
I don’t want to participate in your experiment, thanks. There are professionals who can help you with that.
If you want me to assist you in some way, don’t enlist me into your plans. ASK nicely.
When I send my thoughts, ideas and personal information out there into the internet, I don’t know where it’s going to land. It might hit some fertile mind and grow a new idea. I have no control over what people do with it. That’s scary. Some outspoken people have gotten MUCH worse treatment, I know. But, you must accept that there is some bad that come with the good in order to make a difference.
I can control that exchange to a point. But not entirely.
If your idea prompts someone to make a positive change, that’s ideal. But sometimes, it just rubs someone the wrong way or they see it in ways you never even anticipated. Be prepared.