I previously wrote about “the Avenger” here.
I soon discovered the full extent of Avenger’s abusive personality: You could call her the teenage version of Tracy, another abusive and/or personality-disordered bully whom I met later on in life.
Avenger and her boyfriend Lima constantly carried out smear campaigns against innocent people with reckless abandon, yet still some people were so ridiculous as to try to tell me Avenger was a nice person.
Soon after Gypsy’s party, Sharon heard there had been some sort of flame war over Pamela in the forums, and checked it out. I did also, soon after.
Lima, Avenger and possibly others flamed Pamela and told everyone how “horrible” she was. Pamela, of course, got upset. I think she even tried to defend herself, but they just flamed her more. In the end she said her presence in the forums just brought on more trouble, so she wasn’t going to read or write anything in them anymore.
It’s such a shame when nice people are forced out by mean ones. It’s such a shame when a bully chooses to justify his or her behavior rather than repenting of it.
I was so upset by this that I wrote a post chewing out Avenger and Lima, and anyone else flaming Pamela, for bullying her. I unwisely accused them of immaturity–though, as you see in the link above, immaturity is a common trait of bullies–which would keep coming back to haunt me.
Avenger wrote a scathing reply, but she seemed to disagree and yet agree with me at the same time, as Speaker said when I met him on the 8th.
She seemed to defend her actions, and yet say that we should all respect Pamela and let the thread die. She was sure one to talk about respecting Pamela! She was as guilty as the rest of them of harassing her.
Lima complained that the thread was old and people should look at the dates of the messages. Though, from what I’d seen in teleconference, what I said still needed to be said: Even if the thread had died, their harassment of Pamela hadn’t.
Avenger also insisted, “I am mature.” My future husband Cugan told me once that this statement showed she was immature. He said immature people don’t like being told they’re immature.
Meanwhile, Speaker avoided Avenger, and often typed “ignore Avenger” when he went online. When he did this, nothing she did or said online showed up on his computer, as if she were never there. She was harassing him now. She knew his embarrassing real name, and teased him about it, among other things.
Once, I found Pigpen and Speaker online, and Pigpen said to Speaker, “Is Avenger being mean to you again?” (Speaker told me once that he didn’t know why Pigpen and Cankersore liked to come see him every Saturday.)
Stimpy soon sent me an e-mail saying, “Please don’t say any more to them about this. Do this for me!” They were vicious people who loved arguing, and that was all I would get out of them.
So I stopped saying anything in that thread.
Probably around the time of the Big Flame War, which happened later that month, Avenger and some of her friends voted in one of the forums on whether or not Franz, whom some of us called Znarf, was cool.
(Franz was in college now, a freshman at MSOE, or Milwaukee School of Engineering, which was also Cugan’s alma mater.)
I voted that he was cool. Avenger said my vote didn’t count because only the cool people could vote.
Apparently she meant that only her worshippers could vote. She didn’t seem to want to have anyone else on the BBS considered “cool” except for her and her cronies, and if you disagreed, she ripped into you.
As far as I was considered, everyone in her clique was very uncool, while nice people like my roommates, Krafter, Stimpy, Ish, Speaker, and others were cool.
According to Love Our Children, such polls are yet another means of cyberbullying.
Check out the answer to the “Bullies prey on the weak” myth here: It says, among other things, that “bullies prey on people with a kind heart” and “bullies are irresponsible people who refuse to accept personal responsibility for their behaviour and the effect of their behaviour on other people.”
Also look at the answers to “Victims are unlikeable” and “People who get bullied are wimps”: Basically, these are myths, the victims are normally likeable, and their good points are seen by bullies as vulnerabilities. Let’s not let bullies decide for us who the cool people are.
Even after discovering that Avenger found this chapter of my Memoirs—
–I keep this story in here and haven’t tempered the wording. This is why:
Because bullying in any form has always been, always will be. The victims need to know that it’s not right, they’re not weirdos, and they don’t have to let the bullies decide who they are or what they can accomplish.
Victims of bullying can read the articles I linked to, for ideas on how to combat bullying. Bystanders can get past the myths and stand up for the bullied.
A year or two after this, Avenger tried to ridicule and harass another woman (who was older than she was, which, I believe, Pamela was too), the same as she did to Pamela. She said this woman had done something bad to one of her friends.
I didn’t know the other woman’s side, so I don’t know what really happened. But whatever the case, I thought Avenger should not be carrying this harassment out in the open on the public forums. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to see this in the forums.
The woman found Avenger’s comments amusing–things like, she was ugly and fat–and zinged her right back, which I admired her for. The forum-op broke in and said if the argument continued, she would move it to the Pit forum (which was for arguing).
I think this Avenger is a narcissist, or more likely a sociopath, because of her constant bullying of so many people. And the way she quickly took offense at NOTHING, flamed you, and then you became her enemy for life.
This was in US News and World Report for March 22, 1999, in the article “E-Mail Nation”:
Emboldened by E-mail’s seeming anonymity, kids send bomb threats to school and hate mail to teachers–and are often suspended from school if caught. Moreover, they could be sued for libel, says attorney Christopher Wolf of Washington, D.C., if they defame someone’s character in an E-mail (p. 58).
So Avenger was treading dangerous territory here. She could get in serious trouble if she ridiculed and harassed the wrong person.
I haven’t been on TCB for some time (it’s March 24, 1999), because a couple years later it had become a haven for people like her, and most of the nice people had left. So for all I know, it’s already happened, and she’s been slapped with a libel suit or two.
After all, she’s not exactly anonymous on TCB: She’d be easy to track down and sue.
Okay, now it’s May 19, 1999, and I’ve been on TCB again. No one seems to use it for anything other than games and the Internet, so even Avenger hasn’t been on for a while and Lima’s account has been deleted.
Avenger seemed like the ringleader of a clique which worshipped her. The “clique” title fits because other people were kept out and ridiculed.
Ish said privately to me once, after I read a message from Lima, that Lima just did whatever Avenger did and didn’t seem to have a mind of his own.
Also, Avenger, Lima and a few of the others couldn’t even type a regular, non-flame message without cussing. Since the BBS was set up to censor such words, their messages kept showing a bunch of asterisks, making them hard to understand. If the words didn’t show up anyway, why bother writing them?
And the whiny group kept crying “censorship” because their swear words didn’t show up, even though it was a family BBS, and the sysop CD had every right to restrict such words on his own BBS.
As for Avenger, she had a serious persecution complex: She thought everyone over twenty (Lima’s age) was out to get her and all teenagers, and owed her something. No matter what anyone said, no matter what the subject or how totally unrelated to kids, in her mind it must have been a cutdown on kids.
Not only that, but she and her clique showed absolutely no respect for authority, cutting down on the sysop just as viciously as anyone else–despite the fact that he could ban them all from the BBS if he wanted to.
She’ll get nowhere with that attitude, and if she treats people that way, that’s how she’s going to be treated: It’s the “what goes around, comes around” thing. Just wait until she has teenagers just like her (though I do hope her and Lima’s future kids will rebel against them and become nice, sweet, wonderful people, like Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous).
I liked to play online with a teenager named Mustang, and we shared stories of our genies (mine was Zara, and I think his was Abu). To my surprise, I found one day (probably after the Flame War) that he was getting to be good friends with the clique. I really, really hoped he wouldn’t start acting like them, since he was such a nice, fun guy.
The Big Flame War began after Gypsy’s party and before the BBS party on March 18th, 1995. I believe it went on for several weeks, so in the beginning I may have still been dating Stimpy (or just broken up with him), and in the end I was with Cugan.
This is how it began: In one of the forums, probably /events, CD and others discussed the BBS bowling party, which was to be on the 18th. They wondered what time it should be, and suggested some late evening times.
Sharon posted that they should keep in mind that many users were under eighteen and might have curfews; the time should be early enough for them to join in the fun, too. She was just being sensitive to the needs of the kids online.
Avenger posted, “ExCUSE me!” and how sick she was of adults looking down on kids like that.
It was a clear case of someone not reading a message thoroughly and reading in things that were never there. Stimpy quoted her and replied simply, “Um–um–what? Um–um–what?”
No matter how much Sharon tried to explain that she didn’t mean it that way, Avenger refused to listen to her. Instead, Avenger insulted her in various ridiculous ways. For example, she accused her of sleeping with her professors to get good grades.
Irate at Avenger for defaming my smart and virtuous friend, I wrote that she was totally wrong, and told her off. I did for Sharon what I would want a friend to do for me.
Avenger and her clique began a vicious attack on the both of us, making personal remarks and cutting us down. And this all because Sharon was trying to be sensitive to the needs of the younger users!
I didn’t know back then that this was called trolling, or baiting people to start fights online. I didn’t know that it was best to ignore such mean, rude people, aka, “Don’t feed the trolls.”
Sharon apparently didn’t know this, either, because we both got caught up in a Big Flame War with Avenger and her clique, which included Nobody and Sub-Zero.
Avenger and her cronies threw around all sorts of personal remarks like you hear from children on the playground: making fun of our looks and clothes, calling us “dorky,” ridiculous crap like that. They proved themselves to be just as immature and childish as Avenger insisted they were not.
I didn’t do that to them. Heck, even as a child, I did not behave in such a ridiculous fashion. There is no need to go into details; flame wars on the Internet are now a dime a dozen, and everyone knows now how they go. But eventually all sorts of people began taking both sides.
When the contested bowling party finally happened, Pearl joined Sharon and me. Though Pearl and I didn’t bowl, we all joined a group with Krafter, CD, and Ish. Avenger and her clique were in the lane right next to ours, and CD joked, “Nobody say anything about maturity!”
Avenger ignored us all, of course. This was Pearl’s first look at Avenger. She later told Sharon and me that Avenger had this snobby or snotty way of holding her head and looking at people, which Pearl imitated for us. She said, “It was like she was thinking, ‘I’m hot.'”
Though Pearl wasn’t in the Flame War (and was sick of hearing Sharon and me say “Avenger this” and “Avenger that”), one night she found Avenger online, and argued with her about how Avenger treated us.
One girl told me that Pigpen was two-faced, and would seem nice, then do something really mean to you. Pigpen pretended to be this girl’s friend, then stabbed her in the back. I forget the details, but it had something to do with the girl’s brother.
This put me on guard against Pigpen being two-faced to me. Pigpen had seemed like my friend because I was friends with Speaker. But now she turned two-faced to me, too, joining in with the Avenger clique, making me believe this girl told the truth.
I got all my forum replies in my BBS inbox, so I couldn’t stay away from them simply by avoiding the forums.
Keep in mind, Pearl’s computer was an 8088, and had no mouse or Windows OS, which was in its infancy. We were running on DOS. Also, the BBS’s in S— were different from the ones back home in Indiana, so I didn’t know how everything worked.
On BBS’s in 1995, you got your messages immediately on logging in. It’s not like an e-mail program in Windows which lets you look at a list of headers before deciding what to read. Some e-mail programs even let you delete without opening, though Thunderbird does not do this.
But there was no such option on this BBS. The BBS sent me each message as I logged in, and I had to open it before deleting it. So every time my bullies replied to one of my forum posts, it came directly to my attention and I had to see what they wrote.
I was increasingly bombarded again and again and again by these creeps, with no way to get away from them, unless I stopped going on TCB.
And why should I be forced away from my new online friends and all the fun of playing games with them, when I had done nothing wrong? This was also my principal means of communicating with my new boyfriend Stimpy and with Krafter, whom I now knew personally, not just online.
So every time I logged in, I’d get all these attacks in my inbox, and tried to defend myself against them.
Not only did they make personal remarks (calling me ugly etc. etc.), but they twisted my words and told lies about me on the forums, which the more gullible kids began to believe, so they started defending the bullies!
Since they kept attacking my friends and me, I kept defending, since nobody ever told me this was not the way to deal with bullies. When our friends stepped in to defend Sharon and me, they got hit with the bullying, too.
Yet more proof that Avenger is a narcissist and maybe other Cluster B personality disorder as well–probably even a sociopath–surrounded by sycophants and sociopaths who mob-bullied anybody she wanted. And no, there was no justification for what they did, no matter what they dreamed up in their sick little minds. This was a cold, calculated smear campaign.
This whole thing also did a number on my self-esteem, making me doubt myself and my looks, and wonder if I was as awful as they said. I wasn’t, of course, but the residual effects lingered long afterwards.
I believe it went on for weeks. I was so upset that I carried it through my days, thinking of it even as I sat in class. I felt like the dork and retard these creeps called me.
I shouldn’t have let little Avenger and her pipsqueak friends get to me like that, but I did. It was like middle school all over again. (And yet she insisted she was mature….)
One big problem with bullying is the way sensitive, kind people are made to look like idiots and nerds by the insensitive, immature and unkind.
Instead of accepting it as a “part of life,” bullying of any kind should be stopped by bystanders and/or those in authority: teachers, parents, forum moderators.
When a bully is supported by his friends, when authority figures aren’t interested in stepping in–even resorting to blaming you for the bullying, when the bully “gets away with it”–this makes it much harder for the bullied to reach “closure.”
At one point, I heard that harassment online was illegal, so I sent a message to CD asking him to step in. He said the best thing to do would be to ignore Avenger, Lima and Nobody, and they would get bored and go away.
What he really should’ve done was ban the whole lot of them–
–not just for their constant bullying and harassment of me so I couldn’t even log in in peace–
–but for how they bullied so many others on the forum, gang-style, and occasionally chased people away.
As I noted earlier, that BBS became overrun with flaming gangs and eventually died. Not banning bullies is a good way to allow your BBS/forum to be overrun with bullies, while the victims get no justice.
CD and Krafter set up a secret, invitation-only forum, which would not show up in the list of forums. This way, only the nice people could be in the forum and wouldn’t have to deal with the Avenger trolls. (I didn’t know this usage of the word “troll” until 1998, so I didn’t actually call them that.)
It was called the /elite forum, and in the beginning included maybe a handful or a dozen people: me, Sharon, Pearl, Ish, Krafter, Stimpy, CD, a young girl named Grace and her boyfriend. If one of us wanted a friend to join, we mentioned the friend in the forum. If everyone agreed, this person was invited in.
This worked for a few days, but then Lima, Grace’s brother (talk about siblings who are total opposites), came over by the computer and saw the /elite forum when Grace was online one day. He got mad, wanted his own forum, and told the others in the Avenger clique, who promptly cried, “Censorship!”
This was ridiculous: Forums often have private sections like this, whether for the admins/moderators, or for people to discuss how they’ve been abused without the abusers and trolls finding it, or for some other reason.
(The Forum has such a section.)
This was the abusers and bullies finding the sanctuary and refusing to let anyone have peace and quiet without their trolling, to let their targets have a safe place to get together without their bullies harassing them.
The /elite forum was scrapped, especially when CD or one of the others decided maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. The Pit, or /thepit, however, was formed. Here, anyone could argue all they wanted, but it had to be kept out of all the other forums. We applauded this improvement.
I finally wrote a message intending to end the whole thing. I set things straight about accusations made against me, which some of the kids believed merely on Avenger’s word, and said I would stop my part of the argument:
I’d like to set a few things straight to everyone who’s been reading this forum, especially to those who seem to think Avenger is some sort of hero for standing up to those ‘b—- college students who think they’re better than us high-schoolers.’
I don’t care anymore if Avenger or Nobody hates me. Avenger’s friends say she’s ‘nice’ and ‘cool’; well, maybe she is in real life, but I’m not dealing with her in real life, I’m dealing with her on here, and this is the persona she’s chosen to have online.
She’s chosen to treat myself (and others) this way online.
I did not start the argument and neither did Sharon; it was, I admit, stupid of me to respond to what was said to me, and be an ‘easy target’; but I learn from my mistakes and will know better next time.
Now I am trying to end this once and for all so there can be peace, or at least a truce. Also, I don’t want everyone hating me without reason.
I never cut on the age or intelligence of anyone in here. I have not made personal remarks, which the argument has turned to. I have merely responded (though ill-advisedly) to remarks made to me, with ‘an equal and opposite reaction.’
Such as IQ’s, etc.–that was merely a sarcastic response to being called a ‘tard,’ as Nobody termed it. I said nothing about his or anybody else’s intelligence, only mine.
As for age–I have nothing against high-school students. I used to be one myself. What I’m against is the immaturity many high-schoolers have, and also–brace yourself for my unexpected admission–many college students.
I am against immaturity in general, especially when it is the cause of someone else’s relationship problems. Many high-schoolers are also–gasp–mature.
But it usually irritates someone older to see blatant immaturity and popularity games in a group of younger people. It irritates me.
Also Sharon was concerned about younger users having curfews and not being able to go to the bowling party.
I have a note which says, “and might not be able to join in the fun,” though I’m not sure where that was supposed to fit in the sentence.
We had curfews too, everyone under eighteen has curfews (usually), and she was concerned. Her message was the focal point of the argument, originally; it has gone too far off base and has no further purpose.
There has been a lot of assuming, reading between the lines, and twisting of words going on here. There have also been personal comments made to me that are actually ludicrous because they’re the opposite of what I really am or look like.
I’ve had many intellectual conversations here and elsewhere, I’m most definitely not ugly, and the thought of ME being a conformist just makes me burst out laughing! Go ahead, tell me more! I like a good laugh.
Plus, Avenger, I never called you–to yourself or to anyone else, not even to myself–a “dumb blonde.”
I do not believe in the concept of dumb blondes. I have at least four blonde friends (natural blonde) who are very intelligent, as well as brunette friends who, it is said (as a joke, not as a rip), ‘are blonde but their hair doesn’t know it.” (I did not make up this phrase; an intelligent AND blonde friend of mine likes to say it.) And I was in an environmental group in high school.
This paragraph referred to things said by Avenger, such as “you may think I’m a dumb blonde but I’ve been accepted to UW-Stout and I’m in an environmentalist group.”
Anyone who has thought I meant differently about anything than I did, I’m sorry you took it wrong, but you must realize how it was truly intended. And please, before getting on the bandwagon of one side, look at the other side as well.
Plus–I do realize this is the /argue forum, for arguments. Argue away, but if someone doesn’t want to argue, let them be instead of harassing them. It’s much easier on everyone.
Four years later, this letter still makes me proud. Ish, one of my supporters, saw my letter and approved.
I soon checked the responses, however: It was just Lima saying, “Blah blah blah,” nothing more intelligent from any of them, and Lima saying we must worship them (or something like that) before we could ever be in their good graces.
Like I even wanted to be in the good graces of a group of bullies.
What, did he get the silly idea that I was apologizing? I did no such thing! Obviously he didn’t actually read the post. Do you see an apology to the bullies anywhere in that post?
I complained to Ish about these responses. He said that group doesn’t want to read anything longer than a few paragraphs.
Considering how mean these people were in general, I suppose I shouldn’t have expected that they’d listen to me and lay off. After all, that would violate the sociopath code.
But back then, I didn’t understand this about bullies, having the naïve notion that bullies could be talked into reasonable behavior and apologizing.
Ish and I were in tele when Lima, probably Avenger, and maybe others showed up. I whispered to Ish that I would act nice to these people because, as the Bible says, that would “pour burning coals over their heads.”
I greeted Lima with the usual “hello Lima bean–olleh amil neab,” but he made some strange remark about “groupies.” Then he started talking about bowing down and worshipping him! I certainly didn’t do that, though I may have joked around a bit.
Then Lima and the others ganged up on me, despite my attempts to be nice, and treated me the same as they did Pamela. Sharon, watching, said I should show them a thing or two by just leaving, so I did. I then paged Ish about it, and he consoled me.
Sharon wrote a post to everyone saying that those who adopt online “personas” different from their own personalities, should realize that some people online are real, not “personas,” and do get hurt in real life by things they read online.
For the next several days, I refused to go into the forums. I may even have stayed away from the BBS for a couple days.
CD soon forced Avenger to apologize to Sharon, which she did, sort of, with a public message in the forums.
I was upset, though, because she apologized only to Sharon when she should have also apologized to me. I deserved an apology for her b**chiness and bullying of me, just as much as Sharon did.
I don’t remember how CD made her apologize to Sharon–maybe he finally threatened to ban her from the board–but it was a victory for our side.
(Either late that year or in the next year, Avenger wrote on the forums how much she liked Third Rock From the Sun, and sympathized with the aliens for being different and being misunderstood. She actually said she didn’t make fun of people for how they look or dress, because that was stupid.
(What a liar and a hypocrite! She made all sorts of personal remarks about my looks and dress during the Big Flame War, and accused me of being a snob when I was merely quiet and shy!)
Around this time, CD or Krafter posted a warning to all the users on TCB to not use the same password on different BBS’s.
I didn’t go on Solaris, a rival BBS, very much, especially since it was apparently just some kid trying to go up against TCB instead of just having his own BBS and supporting all the other ones in the area.
But it was popular with the Avenger clique, who figured out people’s passwords (such as Pamela’s), began logging in as those users, and left nasty messages to other users and on the forums.
The innocent users looked bad and had to explain that no, they didn’t write the messages. I was afraid to go on Solaris during the Flame War, for fear the same thing would happen to me.
This is yet another form of cyberbullying and trolling, which still happens online all the time.
This makes me wonder if Lima and Avenger (who got married eventually) and their sycophants have gone on to become hackers and trolls, spreading hate and trouble throughout the Net, hacking into people’s accounts, spreading viruses, etc.
Because you can see above that they behaved just like those sociopath trolls we still find all over the Net, doing the very same things to harass people–for fun.
In maybe 2006 or 2007, Avenger found these memoirs and posted in my guestbook. She said little other than that I have “an interesting perspective” on what happened.
She must have been well into her 20s by then, and more than 10 years had passed.
Yet she still thought SHE was right, and did not apologize for her actions.
My childhood bullies tended to apologize to me years later, yet she still had this twisted, false view of herself.
Don’t most people GROW UP eventually?
Yet more evidence that this bully was still stuck at 16.
Though when I was 16, I didn’t behave that way, and neither did most people I knew, so age is no excuse for her behavior.
After all, this is yet another way she behaved just like Tracy, another possible sociopath I had the misfortune to cross paths with in 2007.
Sociopaths will laugh at you for calling them abusers, and refuse to admit wrongdoing or apologize for their bullying and abuse.
And that’s what Tracy and the Avenger both did.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: