How The Constant And Unending Harassment And Abuse Of A Public Shaming Attacks You And Everyone You Know For Years With No Way To Do Anything About It, Forever (Or) “Why I Stopped Worrying About People Saying I Was Playing The Victim And Learned To Love The Fact That Scary Strangers Occasionally Harass My Friends And I Might Die”
A writer I respect emailed me after the last one of these I wrote, a short essay about why I never responded to my public shaming, and said some of it had felt “two dimensional.”
But something awful happened recently and it’s led me to want to speak on this again, perhaps a little more in 3D.
If you already hate me, that’s okay. This isn’t about making you not hate me. I just want to maybe make you think about some things, some aspects, you perhaps have not considered.
So. Let’s start with a question I found myself asking the other night, after a random stranger with a goatee screamed at my friend until she cried.
How is it possible that the main way my public shaming is enforced in real life is through men I’ve never met yelling at women I care about?
There’s no way for me to stop a random drunk scary loser who got invited as a plus 1 to a party from asking someone who I am, because he’s on molly and coke and being weird, and then googling me. Once this random asshole has read that he now has “permission” to be aggressive, he doesn’t confront me (too scawy), he instead confronts a woman he barely knows, who he’s vaguely aware cares about me, and begins yelling at her until she cries in the kitchen of her house at a party she’s throwing.
Keep in mind, this guy had NO IDEA who I was. Not a big screenwriting buff, this dude shouting at my friend, presumably on behalf of a woman she’s never met, he’s never met, and that I haven’t spoken to in years.
All he saw was a triggering headline. He was yelling about stuff I’m not even accused of.
This was the most recent (but not close to the first time) almost this exact incident has played out. A male stranger screaming at one of my female friends, in person, intimidating, threatening and frightening them.
This happened last Friday. But it really did feel like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Stuff like this happens all the time.
Because this is what being canceled actually is. The article that “Cancels” me is an unchanging immovable online sign post that encourages vigilante violence of all kinds, social, emotional, professional, financial, towards me and anyone who is shown to care about me. Nothing less than complete destruction is worthy, and there’s no way to control who picks up the baton to champion the cause, because it’s available to everyone.
There’s no real way for me to change my first Google search result being attached to my name. There’s no pending criminal or civil component to anything in my shaming. There never was. It exists in two spheres: online and real life. Online, it’s just essentially haters, like “YAY! Now he doesn’t get to write movies!” But in real life: Insane strangers have been given implicit justification and permission to hurt me and my friends, forever in perpetuity.
Like this weird guy screaming at my friend in her kitchen because he read the headline of an article from three years ago.
There’s no cause and effect line. My shaming isn’t a coherent “accountability process.” If anything it erases any chance for actual accountability, and causes a frozen forever war where one side can’t functionally fight back. Don’t ever delude yourself make yourself believe that that’s okay or makes sense.
It’s just chaos, and it doesn’t end.
The shaming affects my life every single day. If I seem heightened writing this, if this is ranty, yes. I am heightened. Because I’m scared.
I never know if I should talk about the shaming in detail. Whenever I do, it risks continued attacks and things getting worse; that’s part of what makes it so powerful. It’s a fear and shame based weapon. It’s about punishment and revenge. Talking about it gives it power.
I never intend to, but then incidents totally out of my control occur that, to everyone there in real life, come off as wrong and sick and twisted. That’s why I’m writing this now; this one isn’t so much about me, it’s about how my shaming effected and continues to effect the people in my life.
I tried to do like, the polite, respectful, adult version. What I thought was mature and thoughtful. Well this one is going to have the word “fuck” in it. This one’s going to be long and read quite different. In this one you’re going to feel the anger, the special electric breed of anger this brings out.
Anger is not disqualifying of my truth.
Every time I try to address the shaming, or move my life forward in a way that’s chartable online, the self-appointed wardens of my Cancellation, people with much bigger platforms than my own, quickly respond to assure the internet that it’s all nonsense, that it’s all in bad faith, and that I am a monster of a sort so beyond redemption that engaging with anything I say is akin to willfully being gaslit or hypnotized.
The majority of their audience are people who have never even met me, and don’t even really know who I am. They just repeat the allegations like bots, as though repeating the allegations at me somehow proves anything years after they were written. It’s just like “no u.” This weird behavior should be treated with suspicion by any sane person!
There are so many questions that go unasked around Cancel Culture that it’s laughable, because we’re “not supposed to ask them.” Like:
Why are these people still involving themselves in my life? How could they possibly have any insight or be entitled to voicing in on anything I’m doing, any kind of positive changes or growth, when none of them have spoken to me in years beyond to try to incite more violence every time they notice I still exist?
Why are they treating my life like a videogame they play online that they participate in ONLY if it’s to hurt me? Is this normal behavior we should congratulate and encourage? Is this behavior psychologically associated with healing, or is it something else?
What’s it called when you obsess over a relationship and continually seek to hurt the person for years after you were together? Encouraging others to hurt them too? Trying to make sure your narrative is the only one and that the person is definitively silenced? Using a massive public platform to do this? When you know, concretely, first hand, that it hurts MORE PEOPLE than the intended target? That it puts them in real physical danger?
The word “subhuman,” seems to come up a lot with my accusers. As though using the word “subhuman” to describe any other actual human being isn’t already a HUGE RED FLAG.
The internet shaming is just the match that lights the fuse. Them signal boosting it to their audiences will of course incite new scary random people, to do crazy shit to me and my family and friends in real life.
I hate talking negatively about the people involved in the shaming, because some of them are people I once really cared about, or even really hurt, but these undead online versions of themselves are scary strangers to me, ersatz generals of an army of anonymous psychos, screaming random drunk girls throwing drinks on me and my date in bars, red-faced coked up frat-boys intimidating my female friends, and the isolation, bullying and slut-shaming of my closest friends and women I’ve dated or been intimate with who have the gall to not feel an urgent need to destroy me publicly.
People talk about the “woke mob.” The “woke mob” isn’t the problem. The “woke mob” were the morons I used to tangle with on twitter about whether I was sexist for hating a Star Wars character everyone ended up hating anyway.
The Wokeness is just a trojan horse. But the real life component is different. It’s the part you don’t see on Twitter. It’s personal. It’s all personal.
Is me sharing my trauma boring you? Is my anger disqualifying of my truth? Is me asking you to see this side of it just soooo selfish and indulgent, or maybe is it lacking the sex scenes that make other trauma shares so in turn triggering and titillating? Is this too long, is scrolling through it exhausting?
GOOD! YOU CAUGHT ME! I admit it, I’m mad, okay!? I’m hurt!
This is so creepy and weird and you all act like it’s normal and then behind closed doors EVERYONE TELLS ME THIS IS WRONG. And I sit and say nothing, I post silly stuff about superheroes because to even engage with this means engaging with the central fucking trauma of my life, with people who refuse to communicate like adults or in real life, express only hatred and anger through a megaphone, and somehow want FURTHER PUBLIC DISCOURSE about the sexual details of messy and toxic long-ended personal relationships, yet have already have proven they’re willing to say literally anything, will dismiss anything I say as lies, and don’t care about me at all?
Do you hear how fucking insane this sounds when I lay it out? That’s who I’m “accountable to?” That’s what’s expected of me? What the actual fuck?
I cannot “win,” I accepted that a long time ago, but:
Even the biggest shitheads I can think of, I can’t make it make sense in my head that it’d be okay to hurt and threaten their friends cause you read a creepypasta about a guy you’ve never even met!
It’s been years and I’m exhausted. It just keeps happening. IT’S NOT A GLITCH, IT’S A FEATURE. It can’t just go on like this.
The most violating thing about public shaming isn’t just that it memorializes pain, handicaps growth, destroys coherent communication, encourages finger pointing and blame, turns relationships into fictionalized “Harm” narratives with heroes and villains, turns friend-groups into complicated and unpleasant political landscapes and provably leads to suicide, violence and shunning of not just the victim of the shaming but also the people around them.
You’d think that would be bad, and yeah, trust me, firsthand, it isn’t good.
But the worst part is that it steals your identity. That’s what allows it to perpetuate, and puts it in the dangerous hands.
It steals your name. This part is important.
It turns out, despite the fact that I am not supported by any platform, and doing nothing pop culture relevant except making stuff with my friends for youtube, about 15,000 people still Google me a month.
This is not a flex. You know what they see:
Nothing will change or move that article. It exists as its own resolution: “EVERYTHING IN THIS IS DEFINITELY TRUE AND THIS GUY SHOULD…WELL *SOMETHING* REAL BAD SHOULD HAPPEN TO HIM, RIGHT? ;)”
The fact that a fucking endless uncountable avalanche of “real bad” things have happened to me in the years since its publication is not included, much less the terrifying, infuriating, unpredictable consequences for so many people I know and love.
This all started in late 2017, and since then, I’ve done nothing to try to fight back, or even really ask for any measure of understanding or compassion. I just make my fucking youtube movies and write my scripts and go to therapy.
But now I just think about 15,000 new potential people screaming at my friends. 15,000 new potential people harassing people when they find out they know or even like “Max Landis.”
15,000 potential murderers.
Remember in the other one of these I wrote, when I said someone tried to kill me? And people responded to it like “stop playing the victim.”
It is an unpleasant, creeping crawling feeling to know that if you were murdered, there would be jokes about how you deserved it on Twitter. The idea of my family seeing that makes me nauseous. My mom once asked, after a particularly creepy incident a few years in, “Where does it end? What’s the resolution? What do they want, for you to commit suicide?”
I used to think no, but now? Yeah, maybe. It kind of does seem that way, at this point, yes. They want me to completely stop existing. But it also seems like that wouldn’t be enough, and people would be harassed for making any posts saying they were sad I committed suicide.
Just keeping it real. If you know the climate, you know that’s probably true.
If it sounds like I’m being dramatic, it’s because this has been obscenely dramatic. A public shaming is not a surgical weapon. It’s napalm, it sprays everywhere.
I am an unwilling passenger to this, as are the people in my life, those who’ve known me for years and those who meet me now. The shaming has now gone on longer by far than any of the relationships in the shaming, some of which were over as much as nine years ago.
I don’t wish anyone involved in my public shaming ill. I want them to be free of it and I want me to be free of it and I want to move on and live separate lives. It appears they do not want this literally at all, and appear to be terrified that moving on from harassing me would represent some kind of public defeat.
So I don’t know how to fix or change or even evolve my situation.
I’m incredibly grateful for the people in my life now, and the opportunities that are appearing for me. I have been a lucky person in so many ways. I’m grateful that people give me a chance; I’m fortunate that I’ve found new friends and kept all the old ones that actually cared about me.
I remain open to healing with people I’ve hurt with my past choices, and am happy to say this process has gone really well now that I’m an adult who’s done a lot of work on themselves, instead of an unmedicated selfish ADHD mentally-ill sex addict fuckboy in my mid-twenties, and the venue of healing isn’t “ULTIMATE INTERNET GLADIATOR WAR: WHO CAN WRITE THE BEST STATEMENT TO MAKE THE OTHER PERSON GET KILLED BY A STRANGER CHALLENGE! (4 LOCO REFUSE TO GO TO THERAPY EDITION!!!)”
Three years out, all the shaming did was cause chaos, violence, harassment, death threats to me, and pain for the people I care about. It didn’t protect or help anyone, except for the people who got a lot of likes and followers out of it, and whatever “protection” it gave them doesn’t mean anything because they still regularly actively try to be part of my life and “public narrative” (cringe) whenever I pop up to remind the world I exist as a human being.
And then a stranger screams at one of my friends. Again.
Fifteen thousand people, thirty thousand eyes, every month being introduced to me as a cartoonishly malevolent caricature of me in my 20s, designed by people who loudly and repeatedly admit they hate me, created for the express (and expressed!) purpose of making sure everyone else hates me too…
Forever, apparently? Zero roads to peace. Zero roads to forgiveness. Zero platform for me to clarify my own truth and experience, and zero interest in anything beyond the established narrative. No path back to humanity. A death sentence guaranteed by a Google result, and enforced by insane strangers.
The Jerry Springer show.
And then that real hate for an imaginary person spilling out onto people who love me, in real life, in scary ways I can never predict.
It’s not like my shaming has directly led to actual violence. Oh wait it has? Oh uh…Uhhh….
BRIGHT SUCKED THO, RIGHT? LOL TWILIGHT ZONE HELICOPTER LOL TECHNICALLY UR DAD WASN’T INNOCENT JUST NOT GUILTY, NEPOTISM DIE WE HATE YOU, WE’RE BEING NORMAL, IF YOU GET KILLED IT’S FUNNY, STOP HIDING BEHIND UR FRIENDS IF THEY GET HURT IT’S CAUSE THEY SHOULDN’T CARE ABOUT YOU, NO ONE SHOULD, WE’RE THE GOOD PEOPLE IN THE SITUATION
You can go on hating me now, I guess. This isn’t about whether or not you think I’m a Worthy Human Soul, but it’s too much. Ugh, wait, see how I still cower, see how I still try to respect your right to think I’m a “subhuman” unworthy of compassion?
Literally just a trauma reflex. Can any sane person honestly believe that for years I’ve just been stewing like a defeated dragon at the end of the fairy tale?Isn’t it possible that the person you hate is ghost story that now serves primarily to stop them, out of spite, from ever growing into anything else?
I want it to end. I need it to end. I want someone to loudly call bullshit on kicking someone while they’re down for years after their career has already been dismantled and their public image destroyed, their name stolen and their loved ones endlessly bullied and harassed.
That’s why I want you to understand, I need you to understand, but I’m too afraid to ask you for help. I so deeply want your understanding but help is always too much to ask.
Because I don’t want them to come after you, too.