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"Her daughter is a six year old version of me."
February 22, 2013 9:09 AM   Subscribe

The Princess and the Trolls: The Heartrending Legend of Adalia Rose. A six year old with progeria, the internet, well-meaning adults, and a bunch of not so well-meaning ones, plus facebook and youtube, create the usual storm.
posted by availablelight (41 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Stories like these remind me of Roger Ebert's review of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake: "There were times when I intensely wanted to walk out of the theater and into the fresh air and look at the sky and buy an apple and sigh for our civilization, but I stuck it out."
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:27 AM on February 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


You remember the Bill Hicks bit, "Let's hunt and kill Billy Ray Cyrus"?

I now feel the same way about 4chan.

Let's hunt and kill 4chan. Yup. All of them.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:36 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish I understood just why exactly people like Carl Sherburne are the way they are. I've thought about it a lot. I've known other people who enjoyed trolling and it always seemed like... I don't know, like they had all this self-loathing and were trying to mitigate it by loathing other people even more than themselves. "Sure, I might be a worthless sack of shit, but THOSE people are EVEN WORSE! And if someone like ME can see it, they must REALLY be awful!" Combined with a vibe of "I have, in the past, wanted sympathy and empathy and not gotten it, so no one else deserves to get those things, either."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2013 [43 favorites]


This feels very much of a piece with Adrian Chen's takedown/rundown of ViolentAcrez. Gawker's been doing some great muckraking of trolls lately, and Camille Dodero deserves mad props for writing this.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:44 AM on February 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


Showbiz, I daresay that you do understand exactly why trolls are the way they are, from the sound of it. That's a very astute assessment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on February 22, 2013


"Adalia Rose wasn’t always the hottest kid with Progeria on YouTube. "
"Adalia Rose isn’t the first sufferer of Progeria to become an Internet sensation"
"In general, videos of people with unusual disabilities are view magnets on YouTube"
posted by Nelson at 9:53 AM on February 22, 2013


Yeah, my respect for Gawker went up a zillion. It's a really good piece.
posted by angrycat at 9:56 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Great article.

BigLankyBastard: Let's hunt and kill 4chan. Yup. All of them.

The problem isn't really 4chan (or /b/ to be more exact because I feel like most of 4chan is people talking about anime or their girl problems), the problem isn't really even the internet or anonymity, it's mob mentality - and bullies who prey on the vulnerable because, hey, easy target! quick omg hilarious emotional reactions! - and unfortunately there is no final boss at the end of mob mentality that you can kill to get rid of it once and for all.

But harnessing attention for good is one thing we can do. And I hope the girl's family gets the good kind of attention out of this story.
posted by capricorn at 10:01 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


But harnessing attention for good is one thing we can do. And I hope the girl's family gets the good kind of attention out of this story.

I got the impression that the family is sick of all the attention, even attention from well-meaning people, and is now reluctant to use that attention for their own, legitimate, benefit.
posted by Area Man at 10:07 AM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hate to see any undue attention paid to trolls - it just puffs up their egos bigger, and self-hatred can in fact coexist with a massive ego - but I guess this is as good an Internet cautionary tale as any. I hope it gets to a pretty wide audience.

Meanwhile, his new fan page ... already has nearly 90,000 fans. "I'm gonna keep rebuilding my name until, I hope, a million," he told me over the phone Wednesday. "If Facebook takes me down, I'm not going to quit. There's nothing else to do in this world."

Adalia will have packed so much more living into her few years on this planet than *name omitted to deprive troll of free Google hit* could possibly hope to do. No wonder he's jealous.
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:12 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some people seem to lack the empathy or compassion gene.


But you know, don't we all have a bit of that troll mentality? Whether it's a person with a disability or a person with a different political view or different gender or race or different favorite sports team.....the human race has many permutations of ways to be cruel to others.


Before we throw that welldeserved rock at 4chan and their ilk, let's look in our own mirror first.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:14 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


But you know, don't we all have a bit of that troll mentality?

Haven’t We All Done Steroids, In A Way?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:21 AM on February 22, 2013 [21 favorites]


That was an engrossing article - impressive for Gawker. It made me think a lot about the impact of social media today and how baffling I find the almost addiction people have for it.

My father was a B-level celebrity in the small country where I grew up, and it felt like reporters would come to our house for a photo op whenever there was a slow news day. To me, it felt like a complete invasion of privacy and I hated it. Starting at around age 7 I started to hide whenever a reporter was over and refused to participate in photo shoots or answer any questions. It all felt so fake, even though my father was - is - very talented and deserved the attention. But I had done nothing to deserve this attention, so I couldn't see why I should be included, and I opted out.

To this day, I opt out. I have a good amount of friends, so it's not like I don't like connecting with people. But I'm not on Facebook or twitter or any other social media, because to me so much of it seems self-aggrandizing and fake. I'm not trying to proselytize or judge anyone who uses FB etc - to each their own, and I recognize that I'm in the minority. But the whoring for media attention from people like Bling Johnson (!) and Carl Sherbourne, people who haven't displayed a single ounce of talent (or indeed, any likable qualities) - I don't get a) why they confuse attention with appreciation, or b) what their 'followers' get out of paying attention to them. I truly am baffled by this. A desire to be famous for a particular talent or quality, yes, that I understand. But the desire to be famous for being famous, or for being a total asshole? The desire to be heard, or 'liked' by total strangers? That I just don't get.
posted by widdershins at 10:28 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a good amount of friends, so it's not like I don't like connecting with people.The desire to be heard, or 'liked' by total strangers? That I just don't get.

I suspect these two statements may be related.
posted by zamboni at 10:34 AM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't put too much thrust in psychoanalysing online bullies. Sometimes a cowardly anonymous dickhead is just that.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:45 AM on February 22, 2013


Some people seem to lack the empathy or compassion gene.

I don't think that's quite it. It seems more like... A desire to demonstrate invulnerability. If I can laugh at this, nothing can make me cry. If this cannot shock me, I cannot be violated; I have no standards to violate. I can stare in the face of death and drink beer and much Cheetos, because I'm not weak, like you. I'm a hard, hard man. The fact that you get angry when I taunt you only shows that you can be hurt, and if you can be hurt than you deserve to be destroyed. Because the world is hard, like I am. And if you think you deserve to be protected from the world then you think you're better than me, and so ought to be destroyed.
posted by Diablevert at 10:46 AM on February 22, 2013 [32 favorites]


But you know, don't we all have a bit of that troll mentality?

God knows I do, but I don't indulge it any more than I indulge the impulse to smack that annoying women in front of me in line at the store.

In the end, even if you could get away with it, how do you live with yourself? You've just made the world a shittier place. Why? Where's the percentage in that?
posted by small_ruminant at 10:55 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Though, on reflection, there was a long period in my life, especially when I was a teenager, when my self-esteem was so low that it didn't occur to me that my words could REALLY hurt anyone. I felt so inconsequential that my words or actions didn't register with other people, so maybe there's some of that in play.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:01 AM on February 22, 2013 [17 favorites]


What strikes me about the end of this essay is how the large majority of trolls, even Kings of Trolls like Sherburne are such adolescents, and cowardly ones at that. When I was in high school and some other kid confronted me about malicious gossip I was spreading, I'd react the same way. I never had the courage to either (a) not fucking gossip in the first place, or (b) stand up for the opinions I was expressing. Thankfully, I grew up. Maybe there's hope for other trolls.
posted by muddgirl at 11:05 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Though, on reflection, there was a long period in my life, especially when I was a teenager, when my self-esteem was so low that it didn't occur to me that my words could REALLY hurt anyone. I felt so inconsequential that my words or actions didn't register with other people, so maybe there's some of that in play.

This. It wasn't even cripplingly-low self-esteem, either, just no sense of power or control. Plus, man, I was just dumb. Like, I just didn't understand how the world worked and mistook my very limited amount of information as the truth. In other words: immature, which in certain ways is an appropriate thing for a not-fully-grown person to be.

I was never that kind of awful person, and if there'd been an internet that's not who I would have been, but I understand exactly how someone acts like that. It's something to do, it's a team activity that generates positive feedback inside the team, and it's not supposed to mean anything.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:36 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also think that showbiz_liz is right. You can learn a lot about yourself by noticing what gets the attention of your inner troll. Shadows have a way of illuminating dark places.

Mob mentality is just an unresourceful way of meeting the basic human need for belonging. What we gather to hate in others is that big gaping void we hate in ourselves.

in the case of Adalia haters, I reckon that void is a yawning absence of joy.
posted by salishsea at 11:36 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


After reading this, is it possible to quit the internet and still remained employed? Semi-serious question.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:40 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was in high school

When I was in middle school, rather.
posted by muddgirl at 11:53 AM on February 22, 2013


Wow. You a big man, picking on a disabled 6-year-old with a short lifespan. YOU DA MAN, DAWG.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:30 PM on February 22, 2013


Also, seriously, I kinda want to drop off the Internet when I read things like this. Well, I stay off of online videos and social networking, so that works great so far. But man, why is it that we hate females so hard just for existing? How dare this girl exist, seems to be the main complaint here.

For fuck's sake.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:39 PM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a good amount of friends, so it's not like I don't like connecting with people. …The desire to be heard, or 'liked' by total strangers? That I just don't get.

I suspect these two statements may be related.


Yeah, the article, and mother's blog entries make clear that this was the idea of teen mom dealing with a genetic disorder shared by just 18 other (still living) kids in the country, who was literally barricaded in her crowded apartment trying to create fun for her child, while she hid out from stares in public in her not-great neighborhood and gossip among her former high school classmates about how "ugly" her baby was. I can't begrudge her naivete or well-intentioned urges here at all to create connections and community online. I wish I still lived under the false notion that no one would mock a disfigured child marked for an early death that relentlessly online (or even care enough to do so), and I'm sure she does too.
posted by availablelight at 12:48 PM on February 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


Trolling seems like a defensive measure to me, a way of throwing somebody else under the bus to save yourself.

If you're on a boat and the boat next to yours starts sinking, you'll feel a powerful instinctive urge to cling tighter to your own boat, rather than risk your neck reaching out to pluck the other guy out of the water. The next step from there is to emotionally distance yourself so you don't feel the other guy's plight; what a psychologist would call dehumanization.

Trolling strikes me as an ultimate form of that. Dehumanizing somebody outside your walls in order to cling to your own safe spot as tightly as you can. The more insecure or generally defensive you are, the worse a troll you're going to be.

On second thought maybe they're just bad. I'm with BigLankyBastard.
posted by beerbudget at 12:49 PM on February 22, 2013


Ahh! The article is no longer on Gawker's site. Does anyone have another place one can find it? I started to read it at work and then got rather busy. When I came back, the article was gone.
posted by but no cigar at 12:56 PM on February 22, 2013


Watching the video of Sherburne with the Beatles logo in the background made me feel like Alex in Clockwork Orange. "It's a sin! It's a sin! The Beatles just wrote music!"
posted by mediated self at 12:58 PM on February 22, 2013


Ahh! The article is no longer on Gawker's site. Does anyone have another place one can find it? I started to read it at work and then got rather busy. When I came back, the article was gone.

Only part of it is up for me. It ends with this:

Another time, outside at the local creek, two five-year-olds ran up to Adalia and asked, "What's wrong with it?" while their parents just watched.

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... which is kind of a let down.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:09 PM on February 22, 2013


Nelson: ""Adalia Rose wasn’t always the hottest kid with Progeria on YouTube. ""

Depending on the definition of "hottest", to be sure, this statement is at least somewhat true, there was Tsimfuckis, and sadly, he too, had to deal with the fucking trolls. I may not appreciate his music, but the boy had style and fought back against the haterz.

Fuck trolls.
posted by symbioid at 1:20 PM on February 22, 2013


@widdershins, i read a great article recently about how the UK tabloids sexualise teenagers - most of whom are just the daughters of famous/not really famous people. Twelve year olds in bikinis snapped from a mile away on the beach with "she's not shy!" type paedo tags.
http://www.matt-burgess.co.uk/the-daily-mail-a-murky-obsession-with-sexualising-and-publishing-pictures-of-teenagers-in-bikinis
posted by maiamaia at 1:22 PM on February 22, 2013


The whole thing still shows up in Google's cache for me.
posted by SpookyFish at 1:31 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can read it now- thanks.
posted by but no cigar at 2:26 PM on February 22, 2013


I miss old-style trolling like Adequacy.org's infamous Is Your Son a Computer Hacker?, which is less about being offensive to a specific person and more about pushing people's buttons.

Diablevert is on the right track for explaining some trolls, at least. Let me quote Encyclopedia Dramatica: "Focus on the fact that your victim brought it on themselves by caring about something on the internets"
posted by dragoon at 2:33 PM on February 22, 2013


I once read a troll comment stating simply, "It is impossible to be bullied online." This is, of course, a flat untruth, but I can see how someone might believe it.

When kids are raised in a typical American setting, they are instructed to deal with verbal abuse through the maxim, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Verbal cruelty isn't considered real cruelty, and children are thereby expected to take it and smile. Only if one is caught overreacting by an adult is anyone punished, and the fairness of that punishment is a crapshoot.

A kid from an emotionally arid background might well grow up believing that emotional pain was a sign of weakness, that anyone who was hurt by words was hurt because they allowed themselves to be hurt, and were entirely to blame for that. Years of neglect plus social media equals troll. I am coming dangerously close, of course, to the wearisome parental saw "a bully hurts other people because he's hurting inside, so you should be extra special nice to him!" But, in the words of Homer Simpson: "just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand."
posted by Countess Elena at 2:57 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why would that not be on Gawker's site anymore? That's the best thing I've seen there, like, ever. And I just realized maybe the piece stimulated more trolls? Ugh.
posted by angrycat at 3:14 PM on February 22, 2013


When kids are raised in a typical American setting, they are instructed to deal with verbal abuse through the maxim, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Verbal cruelty isn't considered real cruelty, and children are thereby expected to take it and smile. Only if one is caught overreacting by an adult is anyone punished, and the fairness of that punishment is a crapshoot.

I got bullied a lot in school. I didn't resist much. Two things prevented me:

A. I was weak. I couldn't have done much that wouldn't have encouraged my tormentors.

B. My teachers' solution, when I complained, was "Don't be a victim." If I had taken that to mean "fight back," I would have been punished for violence. Most of the bullying was verbal. So I had to take it to mean "Shut up and don't get mad when some asshole on the staircase leans in and whispers 'orgasm' in your ear."

And when I got home, my parents hated each other so much that they used my brother and me as grunts and spies in their legal battles.

It's only by the grace of god that this situation didn't turn me into a nasty basement-dwelling troll. And I'm still not completely sure that it didn't.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:32 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's hunt and kill 4chan. Yup. All of them.
yeah and then we can start on the goons! what? no? alright then
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:47 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


That mother is totally admirable. And competent.

It's funny, some people will always be wanting, however much money they have; and some people are so sufficient in themselves it doesn't matter how poor they are, they feel they have enough. Great family.
posted by glasseyes at 3:46 AM on February 23, 2013


available light, I should have been more clear in my comment that it was directed at the hangers-on like Bling and trolls like Carl. I think FB and the internet in general is an incredible boon for people like the mother in her quest to find others in similar situation and to create a community. Wanting to connect with like-minded people? Totally get it. Wanting to be famous for nothing? Totally don't get it.

@maiamaia, I have noticed that trend too and think it completely despicable. Such an incredible invasion of privacy. I do my best to never click on articles like the ones the author describes in that piece, even if I'm tempted to, because I will not send the message that this kind of journalism should be endorsed.
posted by widdershins at 9:52 AM on February 25, 2013


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