This morning two friends pointed me to someone’s Facebook picture of a guy riding a bus. It was obvious that the photo was taken without the guy’s knowledge and he’s intently doing something on his phone. Some comments to the photo are as follows:
I’m not sure if it is the angle or your camera but he looks REALLY disproportionate. Almost like Mister Mackey but with biceps
He looks like my neighbor.
Haters gonna hate. I very much approve.
I don’t hate. If I hated, I’d say he looks like Billy Quizboy from Venture Brothers. I he just looks disproportionate. I’m sure he’s great for circus funhouse mirror sex with out the funhouse mirrors
He’s attractive, but his head looks so long. I think it is an artifact…well I hope it is.
Not a huge fan of the big head on stick body and long skinny face.
And his long bumpy nose? Angles? I shouldn’t judge. I mean, maybe he’s a wonderful person inside.
Remember gentlemen, facebook is a public forum…. what goes around comes around, especially when it comes to snarky bitchy comments about a ‘stranger’… So think twice about ‘sharing’ your judgements about people on a public website.
He is one of the nicest guys, and very cute– in photos and in person.
Wow, such snark! Some of them are pretty funny, actually.
Except it’s a picture of me.
I’m busily writing this blog post on my iPhone while riding the southbound 1 bus on my way to work. The last two comments are from the friends who let me know I was the topic of conversation with someone and their 500 closest friends.
Not exactly the best start to my Monday morning and it really bothered me all day. Like many gay men I’m rather insecure about how I look. I’m not unaware of my long neck and bumpy nose — neither of which I have much control over. If they had gone for my clothing or posture or shoes I’d have shrugged it off, but they went for the jugular — on things I can’t change. This was the first time since high school that I’ve felt so belittled, so bullied.
It bothered me so much that I had to leave work early. I took a long walk on the waterfront listening to music and texting my friend Shaun, who responded with righteous indignation on my behalf. He very astutely observed that “Judgement comes with our [gay] cards. Some people apply it more liberally and without consequence than others.”
Kenny suggested I contact Facebook and have the post removed on grounds that it was taken without my knowledge and verging on stalking. I was, and am still, very much against this on the grounds that it was taken in a public space and I’m a huge proponent of free speech and freedom of expression. I’m not suggesting that there shouldn’t be boundaries on the freedom of speech, but we as a society gain nothing by stifling that with which we do not agree. Instead we owe it to ourselves to talk about it, to try and learn from it.
So lets learn from this. In today’s connected world, anonymous photos don’t remain anonymous for long, particularly if shared with several hundred “friends” on Facebook. Anonymity, of both subject and object, is on its death bed and we need to act accordingly. Sadly, manners seem on their way out too. Being belittled isn’t just a problem for students in grade school, it sadly survives well into adulthood. But at least we adults can step back and see the bigger picture. Imagine how much more difficult it is for today’s youth who are exposed to such off-the-cuff commentary from their peers but don’t yet have the perspective needed to put it into context. This is what we need to watch out for.
Finally, to the commenter who suggested I looked disproportionate: you are dead on. I have a disproportionate amount of compassion and empathy to my fellow human beings. And I challenge you to find anyone more generous and fiercely loyal to their friends. I’m quite aware that I’ll never be a model, but I’m very proud to say that I am indeed a wonderful person on the inside, even if I’m not all that modest.