Online adventures / my Flickr hecklr

Egg and eagle

Ear­li­er this week, I noticed that there had been a lot of activ­i­ty on my Flickr pho­tos. Some­one named "fur­gurl" had com­ment­ed rough­ly 50 times, and the com­ments them­selves were pret­ty unusu­al. Most were lengthy, not the stan­dard "OMG!" or "nice shot!" or what­ev­er. They were also all low­er-case, filled with mis­spellings and weird punc­tu­a­tion, and in almost every instance, pret­ty cru­el. Cru­el com­ments! On Flickr pho­tos! Weird, huh?The exam­ples above are the only halfway clever com­ments, and they were the only ones I kept. (Apolo­gies to Nathaniel, Adlai, and my mom's sausage fondue).The rest focussed on just a few themes: the absence of make-up ("try wear­ing eye-lin­er!" was a com­mon refrain when women were in the pic­ture), out-of-date cloth­ing ("was this pic­ture tak­en in the 70's?" or "who wears THAT?"), beards ("that one is clear­ly a mem­ber of the Tal­iban"), reced­ing hair­lines ("take some of the hair from your face and put it on your head!" appeared in a few places), hair in gen­er­al (peo­ple with curly hair were crit­i­cized for curl­ing their hair too much; I was often advised to wash my hair) and the over­all per­cep­tion that no one in any of the pic­tures had ever been on a date. Lots of them were unin­ten­tion­al­ly fun­ny in that (a) no ratio­nal per­son would have ever noticed what­ev­er "fur­gurl" was point­ing out, (b) the crit­i­cism often betrayed, let's say, a mis­placed fix­a­tion on super­fi­cial stuff, and © each includ­ed all the mak­ings for a sar­cas­tic com­ment except the sar­cas­tic tone, which actu­al­ly kind of made it even more funny.I didn't real­ly want to delete "furgurl's" com­ments. On the oth­er hand, I didn't want the heck­ling to go unan­swered. But the prob­lem was that "fur­gurl" had no Flickr pro­file, no pub­lic pho­tos, and didn't respond to the Flick­r­mail that I sent. I could han­dle anony­mous pub­lic cru­el­ty, real­ly, but only if the play­ing field was lev­el. She nev­er respond­ed to my mes­sage, so I took them down.Here's where it gets weird, though. When I Googled "fur­gurl," many of the results involved the same per­son, one Anne Bar­tee. (Behold, she has a web­site). When I clicked around the site, I found this, a let­ter she wrote to a hypnotherapist/advice colum­nist in the Tolu­can Times. In it, she describes her­self as an "inter­na­tion­al pop artist," and asks some provoca­tive questions:

I've been on TV and radio all over the world, and also in "Bill­board" mag­a­zine. Can you tell me if there is a link between "bad cul­ture" and pub­lic mis­per­cep­tion of what is tru­ly good? Rap and hip hop and sim­plis­tic drum and bass beats have dom­i­nat­ed music for far too long, encour­ag­ing the pub­lic to embrace yet low­er stan­dards. But sure­ly the pub­lic can­not believe that this is good music. I won­der; is this an exam­ple of the say­ing, "You can sell them garbage if you paint it gold?"

The tone, not to men­tion the rea­son­ing, sounds famil­iar. Here's a tip for all you hip-hop stars: Wash your hair! Try some eye­lin­er! And wear some fash­ion­able clothes once in a while, for cry­ing out loud! Anne, if you ever read and com­ment on this, I'm expect­ing your A‑game. Don't pull any punches.