Geekade is designed to be a place where geeks of all walks of geekdom can enjoy one another. Its purpose is to be welcoming, friendly, and based on passion for the things we love. Sometimes that can lead to some pretty heated discussions. Other times it can lead to some fascinating opinions. I myself have learned a lot from the contributors to this site, and as Editor-in-chief that makes me extremely proud. But last night I did something I’m not so proud of. I inadvertently became a cyber-bully, and that’s never okay.
I’ve never really understood Twitter. I’ve attempted to be a part of that community several times, and I’ve always failed. It just doesn’t click for me. But as part of cultivating the personality of Geekade I’ve been putting a lot more effort into the platform, and I find that while coming up with general things to say is tough, tweeting about what I’m watching on TV sort of works. It’s not like I have very many followers, so the stakes are pretty low. I’ve also never been a fan of Andy Cohen. His personality rubs me the wrong way, and I just don’t find him entertaining. Last night I sat on my couch to watch Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows, and Andy Cohen stepped on stage. I was pretty unhappy about it. While he was talking, I foolishly decided that it would be funny for me to jump on Twitter and say some extremely hyperbolic, hateful crap about him. Like I said before, I often struggle to find things to tweet about, but I have a history of passionately ranting about things I don’t like, and it seems to amuse those around me. Andy Cohen was on TV, I felt inspired to rant, what’s the harm? As it turns out, a lot, actually.
Cohen personally responded to my tweet. He called me a “nasty lady” and I thought it was pretty funny. I was genuinely amused that my tweet somehow found its way to him, and that he was a cool enough guy to jab me back with a far classier insult than I gave him. I found out a celebrity I didn’t like might actually be a pretty cool dude, everyone had a good laugh, and I went on with my night. I spent far more time than I should have crafting a response, and I went to bed feeling pretty okay. Then I started thinking, what if he called me a nasty lady because he thought I was an actual nasty lady? What if he didn’t read my insult as just something from someone being a “personality” on Twitter? I went back and reread my original tweet and realized that there was nothing good-natured about it. How could he possibly have read it as anything but mean? This guy doesn’t know me, and what I said was pretty damn hurtful. Several of Cohen’s followers favorited his response to my insult, and it became quickly apparent to me that I really was being an asshole. I was that idiot I scroll past when I read comment threads. I was being a bully, saying awful things to get a laugh, and there’s no excuse for that kind of behavior, especially from me.
The things I say and do represent Geekade. If someone said what I said to Cohen about any of the people who work for me, you had better believe I wouldn’t think it was funny. I’m supposed to be creating an environment that’s welcoming to people, and I acted in direct conflict with that philosophy. No matter how much I don’t like his on-air personality, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve never met the guy, and there’s nothing to be gained by anyone from this kind of rhetoric. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t smart, and it was totally uncalled for. There’s a difference between yelling about how much I hate mayonnaise and calling someone a living husk of shit. Now don’t get me wrong, everyone has the right to say what they want on the internet. I believe that I have every right to feel how I feel about whatever I want, and I shouldn’t have to censor myself. But if I’m going to be a part of the internet community in a position of (albeit EXTREMELY limited) authority, I do have a responsibility to temper my statements, and not be hurtful for the sake of being hurtful.
The lesson here is that it’s one thing to be critical of someone’s art, but quite another to use that to attack them personally. I see far too often hateful and intolerant things said on the internet, and I disparage those commenters. But what this experience has taught me is that even nice people can say dumb things, especially behind the shield of the internet. It may sound absurd, but I never intended to hurt Andy Cohen’s feelings, or to personally disrespect him. The thought never even crossed my mind, but It should have, and looking back on it now it’s insane to think that it didn’t. What I said clearly had no value other than to be an insult. But that’s the danger of the internet. You’re free to say whatever you want, but you should always think first about whether or not you should.
In all likelihood, he probably hasn’t given this a second thought. And why should he? I’m just some guy on the internet slinging insults that I would never say in person from the safety of my phone. But I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I owe Andy Cohen an apology. So here it is:
Mr. Cohen, I’m sorry I said what I said about you. I may never be a fan of your work, but you absolutely don’t deserve that level of disrespect. I will do my level-headed best to be better, and for what it’s worth, you have my thanks for helping me see what a jackass I was being.
Andy Cohen can be found @Andy
I can be found @GeekadeKris
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.