How Could Twitter Possibly Cause PTSD?


When I started this Storify, I didn’t expect it to be nearly this long. Then Thunderf00t stepped in, and the volume increased to multiple tweets per minute. It’s only starting to slow down in the last hour, but I have to stop somewhere if this is going to be published. If it gets to you, either in volume or in ugliness, then at least keep scrolling until you get to the part where they start contacting her boss and her organization. That should be witnessed.

If the embed on the Storify doesn’t work, you can read the whole thing here.

Comments

  1. thefemalearchetype says

    So nice of Wachs to jump in there her lack of empathy is still breathtaking. That whole storify is grotesque.

  2. says

    Well, you know, if two people are in the same room and only one of them gets the flu, they’re clearly faking it.
    Also, soldier-hero-worship is disgusting. My army right or wrong. Fuck that shit.
    Do the brave heroes notice that their argument can be turned around on them? After all, they were in that war voluntarily, right?
    Also, that first tweet “brothers and females in arms”…
    Does Jason’s Ferengy script work on your site?

  3. Forbidden Snowflake says

    They’re using PTSD as some proxy Mark Of The True Victimy Victim while accusing her of having victimhood issues. Pathetic.

  4. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Also, that first tweet “brothers and females in arms”…

    Omg how gross is that? Who the fuck says “brothers” and then doesn’t come up with “sisters” as the feminine equivalent? I mean obviously that guy but…yuck.

    Also this is a brilliant example of “I’m going to show you how wrong you are by exemplifying your complaint.”

  5. R Johnston says

    Wow. That is a staggering volume of abuse. It’s unadulterated sadism. Those are some horrible, horrible people.

  6. Nick Gotts says

    Also, soldier-hero-worship is disgusting. My army right or wrong. Fuck that shit. – Giliell@5

    That’s what particularly struck me too. You get sadistic bullies everywhere, and those participating in this pile-on are particularly vile, but the militarism rampant in the USA is deeply disturbing.

  7. whiskeyjack says

    Would it make it better or worse to simply tweet,”I support Melody Hensley”? I mean, I have no intention of engaging with these people, but just as a show of support and maybe take the edge off the nastygrams being sent to her boss.

  8. whiskeyjack says

    Also, I thought the part that went, “You’re obviously self-diagnosed.” “No I’m not. My therapist diagnosed me.” “Oh, the guy who takes your money? No conflict of interest there!” was pretty… erm… special. I suppose only true diagnoses come from Twitter (though the trauma obviously can’t — it’s just the internet) in the same way that browsing anti-vax blogs educates you better than your GP (y’know, the dude taking your money) ever can.

    Big Pharma. Big Psychology. Notorious fiends.

  9. thetalkingstove says

    Just disgusting.

    And so stupid. A pic of someone looking reasonably content means they can’t have PTSD? For fuck’s sake.

    I see how quickly ‘I’ll speak to your commanding officer if you harass me’ became ‘she’s trying to get veterans fired’.

  10. says

    The non-existence of Melody Hensley’s PTSD is an article of faith in the weird online cult these people have created. Along with the price of Greta’s shoes and the innocence of the Elevator guy, these gospels must be zealously defended against the constant assaults of unbelievers (ie: the actual people involved).

  11. karmacat says

    I also noticed how there are all these assumptions about what PTSD and mental illness look like. It just adds to the stigma of mental illness. However, it does bother me that Melody compares the severity of PTSD across different types of victims. It doesn’t matter who has it worse. It only matters that someone with PTSD is suffering so much. I do wish Melody a speedy recovery and I am glad she is talking about this issue. Her critics have just proved why we have to look at how electronic communication can cause fear and suffering

  12. kellym says

    Glad I know the military atheists at Rock Beyond Belief support this harassment. Thanks to Patheos for allowing dishonest misogynist harassment videos to be promoted there. Kudos to both organizations.

  13. Carlos Cabanita says

    I’m worried about the way people talk about war veterans. I respect their suffering as human beings, but they are not the heroes defending their country. The USA is an aggressor power responsible for multiple wars and assaults on other countries. Quit that fiction from WWII. Now you are much more like the German soldiers, suffering terribly ftom the hell of war and some from the crimes they were lead to commit. For people from Iraq or Afghanistan, pitying the poor soldier that got PTSD from slaughtering children while forgeting to show any consideration for the slaughtered ones takes some gall. I said enough.

  14. kevinkirkpatrick says

    This is not an exaggeration; not hyperbole. I would truly be happier and prouder as a parent to see my children grow up to be Jesus-loving, bible-thumping, young earth creationists with even the slightest ability to demonstrate compassion for others, than to see them grow to be the type of atheists who were contributing to that string of tweets.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – by measure of how people treat each other; how motivated people are to take time out of their days and dedicate themselves to simply be awful toward others, the atheist movement is proportionally every bit as rotten as any religious organization out there.

    Thanks for the storify – bookmarked as the “case-in-point” to justify that statement.

  15. Great American Satan says

    I’m trying to be more positive these days, but as you saw fit to include hundreds upon hundreds of these things, a moment’s rage should be allowed.

    Fuck every last one of these pieces of shit. That we – as a species – have produced so many callous scumbagging fuckstains certainly cuts the rest of us in for some of this rage too. So fuck me and fuck everyone else too. Social media have held a valuable mirror to the collective face of humanity, and it makes me wanna crack the world in half and throw it into the sun.

    –OK, positive guy hat back on. Sorry for cussing at u guys & advocating the extermination of our species. I’m glad some people are fighting against stuff like this, but it is pretty wretched to see the ratio of bad to good on this page.

  16. says

    A lot of Melody’s job revolves around public outreach. To lock herself out from Twitter would be detrimental to that capability.

    The people claiming you can only get PTSD from war are the sickest. Fiancee has PTSD from being in a car accident that almost killed her – she gets really nervous and twitchy around sirens. I’ve had to hold her close and keep her comfortable quite a few times when she’s broken down.

  17. Great American Satan says

    –Seconding Kevin @15. This is far from the first time I’ve had to say to hell with my own people. This makes me realllllly not care about advocating for the protection of atheists. I’ll push secularism to protect every religious minority and human (espesh women and sexual minorities) from the excesses of majority religion, but our community is nasty as fuck. Seems like the majority of us are content to be right about one thing and so wrong it’s evil on every other point.

    There is nothing in this community worth preserving except for the paltry little gangs of fighters that have sprung up in spite of everything our majority seems enamored with. And those people can find other flags to fight under, and leave the atheoskeptisphere a blasted ruin of hateful circlejerkin’ orcs and gamerz and libertarians oh my.

    UNLESS this kind of shit is nowhere near as dominant as it seems, and really is just the howling death rattle of a vicious old guard. UNLESS the scumbags are just loud as howler monkeys shouting down some progressive sloths. But it seems rather too vigorous for that hopeful prognosis, doesn’t it? But maybe I’m just put in a shit mood by seeing all of that at once, and will be more hopeful tomorrow. Big maybe.

    Deep Rifts: Le Ongoing Version has me looking at the people I had to separate from and seeing only one thing ever united me with them. And with everything else about them being so vile, it can’t help cast some doubt on that one thing. Was atheism a reflection of everything horrible in myself, despite the fact it seems like any other harmless factual observation, despite the fact it could be a powerful counter to harmful religious ideas?

    I’ll entertain that possibility. In the baby/bathwater scenario, it’s a solid gold baby at the bottom of an ocean of radioactive medical waste. Again, maybe I feel better tomorrow and my statements here look regrettable. But I gotta stomp around a bit after seeing something like this. (/stomp)

  18. says

    It took me over five minutes to scroll through to the end even though I only paused to read a dozenish tweets. What I got from it appart from a very real sense of just how online harassment could cause PTSD is that it that the US military is staffed by Ferengi who spend their down time ganging up on and harassing and threatening already vulnerable individuals. Very brave of them, I am sure.

  19. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    Well said, Carlos @ # 14. These ongoing invasions are not protecting our freedoms or saving us from any danger. We’re not spreading democracy. We’re not heroes for blowing up hospitals, weddings and schools. I do support the troops. I support sending them home so that no more of my friends lose the use of their legs or die over seas. It’s clear that the toxic misogyny so rampant in our military that men and women in the armed forces are being raped and silenced by their so called “brothers in arms” is not limited to the religious in service.

    The one that really get me is the man who tells her, “I’m going to be abusive to you and if you don’t pay attention to that abuse, you are a narcissist.” Fuck that gaslighting greasy skidmark.

  20. Ysidro says

    Why does this whole thing remind me of “You think you have something to cry about? I’ll give you something to cry about!”?

    Except I doubt these a-holes are that self aware.

  21. says

    The non-existence of Melody Hensley’s PTSD is an article of faith in the weird online cult these people have created. Along with the price of Greta’s shoes and the innocence of the Elevator guy, these gospels must be zealously defended against the constant assaults of unbelievers (ie: the actual people involved).

    don’t forget “Stephanie Zvan is a pseudonym”.

    As to the storify (some of which I actually seen in real-time on twitter), I don’t really have much to add other than to agree with Giliell about the brothers/females thing and about the gross display of authoritarian jingoism.

  22. says

    I can’t not take this crap personally. How are the people saying these horrible things any different from the mental illness deniers who tell me my medication is poisoning me and that “Abraham Lincoln was probably bipolar, too, and he got along great and was the best U.S. president ever!”?

    My experience of mental illness can’t be used to judge anyone else’s. We’re all totally different people. Someone else dictating what one’s experiences should feel like and what kinds of scars they should leave is one of the few things I can relate to so directly and viscerally that I may actually get sick watching it happen.

  23. ajb47 says

    I am so glad that none of those people are harassers or bullies, otherwise someone might mistake that for getting harassed and bullied.

    That was a horrible read. And they are horrible human beings.

  24. says

    What an amazing array of garbage these fools are exuding. Exactly when did Melody say that soldiers never get PTSD? Oh, that’s right, she didn’t. They just want the internet to be a place where harassment is the norm.

  25. says

    14. karmacat

    it does bother me that Melody compares the severity of PTSD across different types of victims. It doesn’t matter who has it worse. It only matters that someone with PTSD is suffering so much.

    She didn’t. She pointed out that the rate of incidence is higher for both foster care alumni and rape survivors, than it is for combat veterans (it is at least double). This was not to suggest that it was “worse” for anyone, but only to educate the ignorant legions who were insisting it only happens to those traumatized by war.

    The fact that a group with a much lower incidence rate are the “face” of PTSD says a lot about how unequally we value different groups in our society. It appears the suffering of women and children is far less of a concern than the suffering of adult men.

  26. says

    Please…please tell me this is all a big joke. Melody claiming to have PTSD and threatening to contact the superiors of anyone who disputed her claim, you re-posting her blunder and the commenters who still can’t grasp reality. It has all got to be a joke. Did you even bother to read the description of PTSD on the NIMH site? If you did you would notice it doesn’t mention online activity. You know why ? Because you can stop using the internet. In fact if someone has PTSD they AVOID the cause they don’t engage in it more. Your ability to ignore the truth even as you prove it with your own actions amazes me. The only thing more amazing would be your ability to present yourself as having some sort of superiority to others that disagree with you when it is seldom if ever the case. Great job reliving your memories of high school drama here on your blog though. How long you think it will be until you actually grow up ??

  27. says

    Tell you what, Reap. Get back to me after you’ve stopped using the internet and can report on how easy that is. Until then, you’re just one more shitty part of the shitty problem.

  28. Hj Hornbeck says

    reappaden @30:

    Did you even bother to read the description of PTSD on the NIMH site? If you did you would notice it doesn’t mention online activity.

    That’s a fascinating bit of pseudo-religious thinking on display. Paden doesn’t need to consider the opinions of trained experts, not does he have to factor in that a government body or big institution may take a conservative approach or be biased; nope, if it’s written in a holy book government website, then it must be true!

  29. Dotman says

    It really has nothing to do with the internet as a whole. Twitter is but a small part of the incredibly large internet. If twitter and other forms of social media are causing Melody PTSD, then it would probably be best for her to take a brake from using social media. That doesn’t mean she can’t browse around the internet, it merely means she should stop posting comments and holding herself out as a public figure. All public figures receive tons of unkind remarks, including the President of the United States. Posting in a public forum open’s oneself up to unkind remarks on a daily basis, no one is immune from this. Some people feel as if she is trivializing PTSD by saying she received it from social media. Are these opinions simply invalid on their face? Certainly several comments were inappropriate, but that does not mean that any criticism is inappropriate or abusive. Simply labeling every critical comment as abusive completely destroys the distinction between comments that were vile and those that were legitimate criticisms. Whether for better or worse, no one is shielded from criticism when they participate in a public on-line forum.

  30. says

    If twitter and other forms of social media are causing Melody PTSD, then it would probably be best for her to take a brake from using social media.

    Twitter and other forms of social media have never caused anyone’s PTSD. Her PTSD was caused by harassers using social media. Come back when you’ve gone and told those people it’s their job to get off social media. Go fix the problem instead of telling feminists they should deal with the same kind of crap the President has staff and the Secret Service to manage. Until then, you’re just part of the problem.

  31. says

    Please…please tell me this is all a big joke. Melody claiming to have PTSD and threatening to contact the superiors of anyone who disputed her claim, you re-posting her blunder and the commenters who still can’t grasp reality. It has all got to be a joke. Did you even bother to read the description of PTSD on the NIMH site? If you did you would notice it doesn’t mention online activity. You know why ? Because you can stop using the internet. In fact if someone has PTSD they AVOID the cause they don’t engage in it more. Your ability to ignore the truth even as you prove it with your own actions amazes me. The only thing more amazing would be your ability to present yourself as having some sort of superiority to others that disagree with you when it is seldom if ever the case. Great job reliving your memories of high school drama here on your blog though. How long you think it will be until you actually grow up ??

    This is the best satire I’ve read today! Ending the post dramatically complaining about drama while starting the post with “Please…please” was simply priceless. Sprinkling in a dash of “online =/= reality” for someone who does their job “not reality” also really tied the room together, as the Dude would say. The grandstanding about the lack of dictionary PTSD, then offering a layman’s remedy, OMG! Almost had me in tears, bravo to you sir! Consider all of the irony meters within 1,000 miles exploded!

  32. says

    So… Reap and paragraph breaks, still not playing well together.

    Even though Reap is objectively wrong and exposure therapy is a part of PTSD treatment, many cannot avoid their triggers, she specifically said *abuse* on Twitter triggered it. Of course Reap and pals are all there to harass whenever she expresses to people on her TL to untag her to avoid abusive conversations. That her use of @TheBlockBot is a sign of her weakness etc etc … All looks like someone trying to avoid abuse on Twitter to me. But hey I don’t have Reaps level of expertise in psychology.

    But I can press [return], so I win!

  33. ButchKitties says

    @reappaden Has it not occurred to you that Melody has repeatedly blocked her harassers? That she has already done far more than she should have to do to avoid the harassment? And that the people harassing her have gone out of their way, over and over and over again to get around those blocks so that the harassment can continue?

    Do you honestly think that she’s done nothing to try to avoid it? Are you that dumb, or are you so misogynistic that you’re willing to ignore the obvious?

    She should not have to get off the internet entirely. Seriously, get off the internet? Yeah, and a person who has tried to avoid a meatspace stalker by changing zir number and taking out a restraining order should also have to quit zir job, sell zir house and move out of town instead of, you know, the STALKER being the one to face negative consequences.

  34. says

    #30

    Armchair psychologists are a big joke. If the cause of your professionally diagnosed illness, your symptoms and your behavior (such as an attempt to take back some control over triggering situations rather than avoiding them forever) does not fit within their rigid, narrow and limited understanding of said illness, they might just be the cause of it. Funny, right?

    In the previous version of DSM (DSM-III) a criterion of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was for the sufferer to have faced a single major life-threatening event; this criterion was present because a) it was thought that PTSD could not be a result of “normal” events such as bereavement, business failure, interpersonal conflict, bullying, harassment, stalking, marital disharmony, working for the emergency services, etc, and b) most of the research on PTSD had been undertaken with people who had suffered a threat to life (eg combat veterans, especially from Vietnam, victims of accident, disaster, and acts of violence).

    In DSM-IV the requirement was eased although most mental health practitioners continue to interpret diagnostic criterion A1 as applying only to a single major life-threatening event. There is growing recognition that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can result from many types of emotionally shocking experience including an accumulation of small, individually non-life-threatening events in which case the resultant PTSD is referred to as Complex PTSD.

    –http://www.bullyonline.org/stress/ptsd.htm

  35. Dotman says

    Unfortunately the point of my post was missed. The first point was that not every criticism was abusive and labeling all criticism as abuse or harassment is destroying the line between posts that are truly vile and those that raise legitimate concerns. My second point was that harassment and abuse will, until the end of time, continue on the internet. It’s not something that only feminists experience, it’s something that literally every public individual who holds themselves out to the public experiences. This isn’t a feminist issue, this isn’t a women’s rights issue, this is the result of the nature of the internet. Attempting to stop harassment and abusive internet comments, while admirable, will not alleviate the problem. Posting as a public figure on the internet and expressing one’s opinions is a great hallmark of freedom of expression. Of course freedom has a price, with it comes the opinions and comments of others, some of which are vile and some of which are abusive. What is abusive and harassing is sometimes a matter of perspective and total censorship would be the only way to stop an online figure from feeling harassed. While it’s unfortunate that such comments are made, they are a necessary evil of freedom, either we have the freedom of expression or we don’t, freedom of expression opens many doors, and sometimes we don’t like what’s behind some doors.

  36. karmacat says

    Ivyshoots, you are right. Melody did not compare the severity, just the incidence. There is a change in the DSM 5 for PTSD. They have gotten rid of the criteria that a person has to have an emotional reaction at the time of the event

  37. says

    Really @30? The lousy old Internet and Real Life (TM) are orthogonal planes of existence that only intersect across a single line that is your browser’s address bar trope? Bull. Fucking. Shit. Also, learn where your Enter key is.

  38. says

    I have PTSD from several years of physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse.

    I’d much rather have been in a war zone.

    I am disgusted by the gaslighting, mockery, and deliberate targeting of Melody for this abuse.

    I am disgusted at the fact that this level of cruelty (and far, far worse) exists at all.

    Maybe I’m a hippy-dippy doper, but dammit, I want a world with less violence, less abuse, less bullying, less of this “oh, let’s torment and harm a person for funsies” shit. I’m so. sick. of it all.

  39. thetalkingstove says

    Melody claiming to have PTSD and threatening to contact the superiors of anyone who disputed her claim

    That’s the most uncharitable reading of the situation, unsuprisingly. It seems clear to me that she threatened to contact the superiors of anyone abusing or harassing her, not merely disputing – but you can see from the storify that very few people managed to ‘dispute’ without being aggressive or insulting.

    And look, it doesn’t actually matter in terms of this particular issue whether Melody has PTSD or not.

    If you don’t believe her, fine. But if you’re a decent person you’ll then ignore her and move on with your life. You won’t respond with horrific sexist, racist, homophobic attacks.

    The abuse she’s getting for the crime of allegedly misdiagnosing herself is obscene and should be utterly condemned. The response of a decent person should not be ‘well, get off the internet then’.

    Get your priorities right, for fuck’s sake.

  40. kevinkirkpatrick says

    I’m completely with you WMDKitty. There is just so much cruelty out there, so many people who, at some point in their day, just decide it’s time to throw some misery and suffering into the lives of others. Since arm-chair-psychology seems to be just hunky-dory to these true-skeptics, I’ll put my theory out there. I think most of the vicious tweeters are sociopathic. I don’t think for a second that the root motivation is battling SIWOTI; I think that’s simply the cover they use (at least, it’s a cover used by the assholes who try to maintain some semblance of humanity).

    In reality, I think with each tweet they send, there’s an underlying hope that “this is the combination of 140-characters that’ll reeaallly get under her skin”. I think they sit back with anticipation in hopes of witnessing an emotional response that let’s them know just how effectively their words are opening old wounds or creating new ones.

    And I think they’re mentally sick to be driven by that.

    And, without a doubt, I think there’s something about the “atheist” label that seems to be a magnet for people with that illness.

    But, of course, I’m no psychotherapist, so (unless you’re a true-skeptic), take that with a grain of salt.

  41. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    Thetalkingstove,

    Assholes like Reap think that when you harass a woman, threaten her, regularly seek to demean her or tell her to kill herself, that’s just disputing her. She needs to respond with quiet, grateful dignity or she’s weak, hysterical and needs to shut up and keep out of the public eye.

    Honestly, I’m considering giving up online activity again for a while. Every now and then I have to take a break because it gets to me. Having my body’s ownership questioned again and again, be it over who gets to rape me or who gets to force me to give birth, has a cumulative effect. Opening up about abuse, harassment, stalking, rape, abortion rights and how those things have personally impacted me is hard to do. Knowing that I will be kicked in the teeth for it emotionally makes me wonder why the fuck anyone bothers. Having my inferiority explained to me by someone who couldn’t think their way out of a wet paper sack is funny the first few times. After a while, it stops being funny. It really stops being funny when people like Silverman, Hemet, Dawkins, Grothe and Lindsay jump on the misogyny bandwagon. If they want people like Reap in their movement, I’m happy to let them have each other. It’s past time we moved on without them.

  42. Kintanon says

    You absolutely, 100%, can not get PTSD from reading words.

    100% impossible.

    You can be offended, you can be angry, you can be sad, but feeling emotions, even strong ones, does not equate to PTSD. There is a very specific medical definition for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which you absolutely can not meet if you are claiming your symptoms derive from reading twitter posts.

    Claiming that twitter gave you PTSD is a disservice to all of the people who actually have PTSD from experiencing truly horrible life events like having bombs explode near them and blow all of their friends to tiny bits, or being first responders to massive car accidents and having people dying around you while you are up to your elbows in some poor kids intestines trying to keep them alive.

    PTSD is something that you get from real, concrete, horrible experiences that make you wake up screaming night after night from reliving them.

    This person does not have PTSD. They have a persecution complex, and they need to go seek some proper counseling.

  43. qwints says

    WMD:Kitty

    I have PTSD from several years of physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse.

    I’d much rather have been in a war zone.

    I much rather you hadn’t experienced that abuse, and also weren’t in a war zone. Please don’t say things like that, it’s hurtful. Ranking experiences of suffering is a harmful exercise.

  44. says

    You absolutely, 100%, can not get PTSD from reading words.

    Says the fitness trainer. Yeah, I looked up your qualifications. This would be a good time to refer everyone to Miri’s wonderful post yesterday on talking out your ass about psychology.

    You can, in fact, get PTSD from harassment. The results of scientific studies have corroborated this. The fact that much of it happens on social media doesn’t change that at all.

  45. says

    Some people feel as if she is trivializing PTSD by saying she received it from social media. Are these opinions simply invalid on their face? Certainly several comments were inappropriate, but that does not mean that any criticism is inappropriate or abusive.

    what an interesting place a brain that can imagine legitimate criticism of “I have been diagnosed with PTSD” must be. [/sarc]

  46. says

    qwints, WMDKitty is speaking of her own experience and what she’s had to handle and what she would be better equipped to endure. If she were speaking of the general case, that might be ranking suffering, but this isn’t.

  47. qwints says

    Using the suffering of others to make a rhetorical point is harmful. I apologize if she’s comparing two of her own experiences, but that’s not how the comment read.

    That said, far more people are using the suffering of combat veterans as a bludgeon against Melody Hansen, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.

  48. whiskeyjack says

    It’s kind of ironic that people who say that we trivialize PTSD by saying you don’t need to witness an atrocity to get it don’t realize that they’re romanticizing PTSD by saying you must — and that this is its own sort of trivialization.

  49. says

    The first point was that not every criticism was abusive and labeling all criticism as abuse or harassment is destroying the line between posts that are truly vile and those that raise legitimate concerns.

    I ignored this the first time around because it wasn’t worth dealing with. But if you insist. In addition to what Jadehawk said, which of the following doesn’t count as abusive/harassment:

    • Contacting a stranger to tell them they don’t have the mental illness they’ve been diagnosed with.
    • Contacting a stranger to demand their medical records.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them that saying they have the mental illness with which they’ve been diagnosed is disrespecting veterans.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them that pointing out that not only veterans get the mental illness with which they’ve been diagnosed is disrespecting veterans.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them they’ve only been diagnosed with a mental illness because their psychiatrist wants money.
    • Contacting a stranger to give them unsolicited, incompetent medical advice that really amounts to “Shut up!”
    • Tweeting a video hit piece by a vlogger who is infamous for making distorted video hit pieces at the target of that hit piece, whom you’ve never tweeted until then.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them their mental illness is really just laziness.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them their being mentally ill is discrediting feminism.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them that they’re only claiming to be mentally ill because they like being a victim.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them they’re fat.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them they’re ugly.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them they’re stupid.
    • Contacting a stranger to call them a cunt.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them that because they have a mental illness, they should have to experience combat.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them you hope they die.
    • Contacting a stranger to tell them you hope they get raped.
    • Contacting the organization that employs someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness to tell them that she should be fired because she reported being harassed over the topic and warned that she would continue to do so.

    Every bit of that is abusive.

    What is abusive and harassing is sometimes a matter of perspective and total censorship would be the only way to stop an online figure from feeling harassed.

    Because swarms of abusive commenters and people massing to get you fired or organizing to sabotage the Google search results on your name are just a force of nature. There’s no agency there. People couldn’t ever possibly come to understand that this is wrong and, you know, stop. No one could ever come to marginalize the people who think this is an okay way to behave.

    This is complete and utter tired, unimaginative, defeatist bullshit. You know why? Because when this happened to Melody nearly two years ago, organizations like hers thought they had to take these assholes seriously. That’s part of what made this a traumatic event. There was a real threat to her job there. Also, other people didn’t really believe what was going on. These assholes couldn’t really be that bad, could they? That meant Melody got relatively little social support.

    Now, here we are, nearly two years later. CFI knows exactly where this bullshit is coming from. They know what kinds of flimsy excuses people will use to rev up the hate machine again. They know that the reason Melody is being targeted isn’t because she’s done anything wrong. They know it’s because she’s a successful feminist who started an event that brings feminist atheists together to organize and has made effective change. Those people contacting CFI over bullshit? They’re not a threat to her job anymore.

    Also, everyone knows by now how ugly this gets. People who used to be on the fence about all this have seen the abuse. Nobody’s asking whether it’s really that bad. Melody has lots of support. The crowd who demanded her job two years ago is so pitiful and paltry that they have to go to the manosphere for reinforcements. And somehow they haven’t figured out that this hurts them instead of helps them.

    It’s a different situation all around than it was two years ago. Melody really can block the abuse on Twitter and walk away, or have someone do it for her. She’s not only improved in her PTSD since then, but she’s winning. Hell, all of us who have been fighting against harassment for the last few years are winning. The climate is changing–not all at once, of course, but noticeably over just two years. For example, two years ago, there would have been lots of voices like yours. Now you just look hopelessly behind the times.

  50. says

    Street harassment getting you down, ladies? Reap Paden has the solution! Simply remain inside your domicile at all hours!

    Now that’s equality™!

  51. anbheal says

    But was it a REAL rape? Did she fight back hard enough? Was she beaten badly enough? Why I happen to know women who have suffered GENUINE rape, not this Date-Rape-y walk in the park! She insults them with her every breath.

  52. Dotman says

    Of course people can come to understand what their doing is wrong, but I would argue that the majority of people who post vile comments on-line know full well that they are saying hateful and hurtful things. In part this is due to the anonymity of the internet, and in part because some people just don’t care about who they hurt or what they say. Others may feel as if they are voicing legitimate concerns. I read over your list of abusive comments and I would agree that comments insulting a person’s physical appearance or wishing ill will on them are unacceptable in every circumstance. I would also agree that a great deal of the comments regarding her PTSD were purely mean-spirited and also unacceptable. However there were some commentators who may have had a legitimate concern that Ms. Hensley was trivializing PTSD by saying she received it from social media. I’m not sure if these comments should automatically be considered abusive or harassing, although they may be insensitive. Obviously twitter is not the ideal place to voice such concerns as comments are limited to 140 characters, making it difficult for someone who feels that PTSD has been trivialized to flesh out a reasoned opinion. There were probably some veterans who actually felt as if their PTSD was being trivialized. Is your objection to the fact that these veterans expressed this on her twitter, or rather that they expressed it at all? Would it have been acceptable for a veteran to have written a blog post stating why he/she felt that Mr. Hensley was trivializing his/her PTSD, or would you have considered that equally as abusive? I guess what I’m trying to clarify is whether you believe that anyone that states their concern that Ms. Hensley is trivializing her PTSD is engaging in abuse, or whether your objection is to the way in which people have expressed those concerns.

  53. says

    In what world is it anything other than fucking abusive to tell someone with a mental illness that talking about their mental illness trivializes someone else’s? What could possibly make that an okay thing to do? And why are you working so fucking hard to defend it?

  54. Dotman says

    Because I am an individual who suffers from a mental illness, not PTSD, that has felt as if my mental illness has been trivialized on a number of occasions by others talking about how they have a mental illness. Perhaps my feelings are irrational and illogical, perhaps the way I feel is wrong. I suppose I’m opened to that. But cursing at me and acting as if thinking that my mental illness has been trivialized by others talking about it isn’t really doing any good. I’m defending it because I understand the serious life-altering effects that mental illnesses have upon people and how trivialization of a mental illness can destroy the true stories of suffering behind it. Perhaps I’m wrong in this regard, but I’m trying to get you to understand that people who are concerned that she is trivializing the mental illness aren’t the malicious abusers you make them out to be. Perhaps they are worried about how trivializing a mental illness will effect others. Psychologists is currently concerned about trivializing some mental illnesses such as ADD and ADHD because of how they are now being over-diagnosed, perhaps some people are concerned that this has happened to PTSD. I’m not asking you to agree with these people, but to understand that labeling those who voice such concerns as abusive is ignoring a legitimate concern. I know that it’s easy to assume that people act out of malice and ill-intent but it’s best to try and understand the underlying reason why people have become angry.

  55. says

    No. Flat out, no. Do not ever do that to another human being dealing with a mental illness. Nothing about that situation gives you any right to make their lives harder. Doing so is nothing but abusive. Doing so makes you abusive.

    I don’t give a shit whether you think you’re doing it out of malice. You have no right to turn your feelings about mental illness into one more problem for someone already dealing with their own. If you have a problem with how mental illnesses are diagnosed, take it up with the American Psychiatric Association, not someone on social media.

  56. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Dotman, anyone who has legitimate concerns that PTSD is being overdiagnosed would be perfectly justified in writing a blog post about the evidence that points to PTSD being overdiagnosed. Making a specific person, a stranger who was diagnosed with PTSD, the focus of your “concerns” because it kind of seems to you that their diagnosis, about which you know nothing, isn’t justified, is abusive. Shouting your “concerns” at that stranger from a crowd of harassers is harassment.
    And if a person does the latter and not the former, there’s no reason to think that they have legitimate concerns or are acting in good faith. People with legitimate concerns and trolls: the behavior patterns are actually different.

  57. says

    ok. so now that we’ve apparently established that this “legitimate concern” boils down to “she’s been over-diagnosed”, please show me a tweet that said that, and explain how yelling at the supposedly mis-diagnosed patient is not harassment, since it would hardly be their fault if they’d been misdiagnosed.

    It would also help if you showed some evidence that over-diagnosing PTSD is an actual problem, because otherwise it’s just bullshitting.

  58. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Great American Satan, it’s cool. I’m flattered, even.
    The first commenter made a good point: the part you bolded (“Shouting your “concerns” at that stranger from a crowd of harassers is harassment.”) is generally applicable to criticism; the part right before that (“Making a specific person, a stranger who was diagnosed with PTSD, the focus of your “concerns” because it kind of seems to you that their diagnosis, about which you know nothing, isn’t justified, is abusive.”) is more specific to situations like this.

  59. says

    You have no right to turn your feelings about mental illness into one more problem for someone already dealing with their own

    This.

    It’s between the patient and the care provider and it’s nobody else’s business. For example, I see no reason to believe acupuncture is anything but bullshit, but if a patient and their care provider decide to do it – so be it. And, societally, we’re rich enough that if we’d stop spending so damn much money on military, we could afford to let society pay for it, too. That’s what society is for.

  60. doubtthat says

    Everything about this is disgusting.

    I tried to have some sympathy for the military folks tweeting stupid shit. They do a dangerous job, and though they’re volunteers, that word implies a total level of freedom that often isn’t justified. A lot of people end up in the military out of necessity or, in these latest wars, signed up for the national guard to clean up after hurricanes and ended up going door to door in Baghdad.

    But the notion that being in the military is automatic immunity from criticism and enables a person to spout off ignorantly without consequence is obnoxious. It becomes all the more vile when you consider how hard veterans had to fight to get their PTSD to be considered legitimate. All the minimizing, condescending, dismissive shit these vets have been launching against Melody were launched against soldiers for years as PTSD was considered nothing more that cowardly faking.

    And on top of it all, let’s say you don’t believe Melody, her not having PTSD is not a very good reason to continue to attack her with abusive language.

  61. David Jones says

    PTSD diagnostic criteria:

    ‘To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must meet criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’

    DSM :

    Diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an event that involved or held the threat of death, violence or serious injury.

    * You experienced the traumatic event

    * You witnessed, in person, the traumatic event

    * You learned someone close to you experienced or was threatened by the traumatic event

    * You are repeatedly exposed to graphic details of traumatic events (for example, if you are a first responder to the scene of traumatic events)

    and

    ‘non-professional exposure by media does not count’

    …so which are you claiming applies in this instance?

  62. David Jones says

    Actually, Stephanie, he hasn’t. He’s maintaining a distinction between ‘PTSD-like’ symptoms and the diagnosis of, and diagnostic criteria for, PTSD. His blog post, he now seems to be saying, is simply asserting that ‘PTSD-like’ symptoms can be induced by harassment, including Twitter-based harassment, As ‘PTSD-like’ encompasses all sorts of anxiety-related symptoms I wouldn’t have an argument with him about that.

    Of course that’s a world away from a diagnosis of PTSD, or of using it to examine the underlying cause of the anxiety, of the responsibility for the anxiety symptoms, and the likely treatments.

    What we’re presented with in this instance is a claim of a *diagnosis* of PTSD, which Lacks does not cover in his blog post,

    Why not join the discussion over there? You seem to have an opinion on the matter, albeit an inexpert one, as you say.

  63. says

    Nope. That’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying that a diagnosis is a yes/no proposition based on underlying symptoms but that this doesn’t mean every diagnosis reflects identical underlying symptoms or circumstances. This is pretty much what anyone who is familiar with issues of categorization says. I did a talk about this last year at Skeptech. You can see a similar discussion in the comments over at Miri’s.

    I’m not surprised you’re having trouble understanding it, though.

  64. David Jones says

    No, of course, and especially in the field of Psychology and Psychiatry, which have still such a very poor grasp of the etiology of disorders, a diagnosis doesn’t assert identical causes or circumstances.

    However, my account of what he’s saying is accurate. He’s talking of PTSD-like symptoms – which are of course, largely, severe anxiety symptoms. He is not saying that harassment on Twitter, real or imagined, is sufficient to allow a clinical diagnosis of PTSD.

    For there are diagnostic criteria for that purpose.

    See above.

  65. says

    To quote his post:

    I was asked by this friend, basically, “Can one get post traumatic stress disorder from Twitter?”

    In a word: Yes.

    Nowhere has he retracted that statement.

    Of course harassment is not sufficient to allow a diagnosis of PTSD. PTSD has several criteria, of which the initial trauma is only one. The rest involve the reactions of a person to that trauma over time. It’s like the difference between being infected with group A Streptococcus bacteria and having Streptococcal pharyngitis, or strep throat. Not all cases of pharyngitis are strep throat, but when pharyngitis occurs subsequent to being infected with the bacteria, we don’t refer to it as having “strep-like symptoms”. We refer to it as having strep throat.

    We don’t wank on the internet about whether the source of the Streptococcus bacteria is sufficient for us to categorize the problem, which is what you and your buddies have been doing. Now fuck off and do it somewhere else.

  66. Joy inTorah says

    Many of those idiots were MRA’s. I recognize them. What a bunch of losers.

    I was thinking that a campaign to get isp’s on board to terminate accounts where there’s harassment and bullying, especially of women, because we know most of it is directed at women. Once you rid these basement dwellers of their ability to be online then maybe they’ll learn.

    Getting PD’s on board would also be mandatory so they could investigate and find out who’s doing it. Then they contact the isp and then the isp terminates service.

    That would stop them. How else would they watch porn, play video games? It really is the best thing to do: take away their internet connection.

  67. Ephiral says

    @David Jones 72:

    However, my account of what he’s saying is accurate. He’s talking of PTSD-like symptoms – which are of course, largely, severe anxiety symptoms. He is not saying that harassment on Twitter, real or imagined, is sufficient to allow a clinical diagnosis of PTSD.

    What matters, instead, is that I demonstrated that a particular scenario can be true (in this case, can online harassment and bullying lead to the development of the symptoms that we have clustered together and called PTSD).

    It’s not a very good lie when the evidence is right there. He never once speaks of “PTSD-like” symptoms; what he says is that this cluster of symptoms, by definition, is PTSD. There is no “real, true” PTSD beyond these symptoms – which can, as he emphatically and repeatedly states, be triggered by online harassment.

    Please stop lying, or at least learn to do it convincingly.

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