Mo’ne Davis Just Wrote the Book on Twitter Trolls
By now, I’m used to Mo’ne Davis making me feel bad about myself.
At 13, she throws a 70 miles-per-hour fastball, has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated,” wrote a memoir and designed a line of sneakers, the proceeds of which benefit impoverished girls. (At 13, my only goal was for Brian McKenna to like my hair. It went unrealized.)
Since suddenly becoming a household name over the summer, the Little League pitcher has remained impossibly poised and mature. Even so, I wasn’t prepared for her reaction to the news that Bloomsburg University’s baseball team dismissed Joey Casselberry, the charming first baseman who tweeted the following: “Disney is making a movie about Mo’ne Davis? WHAT A JOKE. That slut got rocked by Nevada.”
What say you, Mo’ne? “Everyone makes mistakes,” she told Sports Center yesterday after emailing Bloomsburg and asking them to reinstate Casselberry. “Everyone deserves a second chance. I know he didn’t mean it in that type of way. I know people get tired of seeing me on TV. But sometimes you got to think about what you’re doing before you do it. It hurt on my part, but he hurt even more. If it was me, I would want to take that back. I know how hard he’s worked. Why not give him a second chance?”
And that, friends, is what it feels like to have your ass handed to you by a 13-year-old girl. While I imagine Casselberry is the one who feels especially humbled, I can’t help but think there’s a message for all of us in there: Put on your Big Girl Pants, Internet, and deal already.
This isn’t to say that words are always just words. There is a nasty Twitter tradition of trolling and threatening women with any amount of perceived power, as another high-profile female pitcher, Gabby Schilling, discovered this year. The men who threatened to rape her deserved to be fired and suspended from their jobs and schools – which they were, thanks to a oh-hells-no campaign waged by her father, Curt Schilling.
But Casselberry’s tweet? Without seeing the rest of his account – which is, obviously, disabled at this point – it’s easy to believe that this was more of a dumb use of 140 characters than a fireable offense. What’s harder to believe is that it takes a 13-year-old to talk us, and Bloomsburg University, off the collective Internet edge.
We are, increasingly, a sensitive bunch behind our screens. At the risk of angering my own scary kind, this is perhaps most evident in the corners of the Internet inhabited by liberal women who can find the patriarchy lurking in everything from sweatpants to Pop-Tarts. Some of that is understandable – after all, we have to deal with genuinely upsetting and dangerous people who think violating us is “satire” (Penn State, you should refund this guy’s tuition).
But at some point, we took it too far. What point was that? I’m going with the first time some extremely cautious editor put a “trigger warning” disclaimer above an article, warning sensitive readers that the already painfully PC content might be upsetting. (As Judith Shulevitz pointed out in a recent piece for the New York Times, trigger warnings now also appear on college reading material. Real world, it seems you have no place on campus or the Internet.)
As a card-carrying Delicate Flower, I would personally love to have an Internet tailored to my sensitivity specifications. Heart-shattering ASPCA ads would be disabled. Maddening anti-immigration rants would be cleansed from my Facebook wall. My parents would moderate the comments to this piece, ensuring that each and every one reminded me that I’m a special Shakespearean snowflake deserving of all the buttercakes in the land.
But that, of course, wouldn’t reflect reality, nor prepare me to survive it. To borrow another piece of Web-generated warning language, spoiler alert: Life sucks. It sucks online and it sucks in person. It sucks in theory and it sucks in practice. It sucks for you and it sucks for me. It sucks, sucks, sucks. Stick around this world long enough, and you are both going to cause and receive significant trauma. There’s no sense pretending otherwise while hiding behind keyboards, trigger warnings and (I suspect slightly feigned) outrage.
Is it acceptable to call women sluts? No. Should Casselberry’s date for this weekend make other plans? Probably — there are plenty of nice boys out there, even in Central Pennsylvania. But if you really think it calls for getting kicked off your college’s baseball team, well, you’ve been spending too much time on the Internet and not enough time being Mo’ne Davis.
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