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Tired of trolls

by Chris Daponte

On Nov. 6, a retired Guelph airman suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) decided to put his personal problems aside for a noble cause.

Though he struggles daily with depression and anxiety, often to the point he can’t leave the house, he took the big step of donning his military uniform - and a brave face - to participate in the remembrance ceremony at the county museum in Aboyne.

He took great pride in being able to contribute to the annual ceremony, reading aloud the names of the war dead from the Palmerston area.

He should have been commended for overcoming his personal struggles, the magnitude of which no one else can fully comprehend.

But sadly, some small-minded social media trolls instead provided him with some good old fashioned bullying and harassment, all presented under the guise of military etiquette and protocol.

When the Advertiser included a photo of the retired airman in its Facebook coverage of the ceremony, one know-it-all decided to point out the man should not be wearing his dress uniform (or a medal fashioned to it) because he is retired.

We understand the importance of protocol, particularly in regards to service uniforms, but the man didn’t take his wardrobe decision lightly. As noted in his online reply to several critics, the man called both Veterans Affairs Canada and a local Legion to seek permission to wear his uniform.

Yet his explanation (and other replies, some of which we acknowledge were misguided) only served to incense the self-appointed protocol police, most of whom live nowhere near Wellington County.

With a mob mentality, these keyboard warriors, like a predator stalking injured prey, intensified their attacks to include profanity, criticism of his personal appearance and the second-guessing of his responses (all comments we suspect none of them would have the guts to mutter face-to-face).

In a matter of minutes these self-important trolls turned a significant occasion and positive news coverage into a vitriolic onslaught that disgusted everyone in our newsroom (we removed the photo as a result). We were further disheartened to learn the retired airman was hospitalized with depression and other health problems that his family directly attributes to the online bullying.

Sadly, this reaffirmed our belief that social media generally causes far more harm than good. In addition to decaying the real-life social skills of users, these sites have become a breeding ground for cruelty,  often appealing to the lowest common denominator.

These particular people could have used tact to address their point but instead chose the malicious path. Quite frankly, we’re tired of such trolls. They should heed the advice most of us were offered as children, long before the internet even existed: if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

That, and: get a life.

 

November 17, 2017

 
 

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Ray Cerniuk
November 21 2017 | 14:03
I agree with Chris. I am a veteran of 20+ years of service and an ordinary RCL member. I too have noticed how very poorly our more recent veterans are represented in both veterans organizations and generally in the public eye. This must change for the better and soon. It will take leadership from veterans and advocates alike. While some may be able to quote a regulation chapter and verse that seems to forbid it, I think it is being taken out of context. Anyone who served and was honourably released has the right to wear that uniform so long as they do it in an appropriate way. Publicly berating people just because you think you can is no way to treat anyone. I can honestly say that if my old uniform had not shrunk so drastically from hanging in a closet these last many years I would wear mine too, and anyone who objected would have cause to think about it further.
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Cheri Adolph
November 21 2017 | 14:05
Hey Chris, well written article. These hooligans (and I use the term lightly), or stalkers or bullies whatever, don't know Ryan. I do... He came to our Outdoor Centre here in Nordegg with "Soldier On". He did all of the activities from Glacier Walking, Rock Climbing, Rappelling, hiking all of it. When I first met him he wouldn't speak to anyone, when he left, he left as our friend. These people are sick, and they have nothing better to do than torment other people. The problem is, is that people with PTSD, (vetrans), can't help but take it personally, it's the PTSD. Thanks for the article. My rant is just getting started. Who are these idiots, I tried to find them on your page. I have a few words for them as well. Make this a great day.!! Cheri . www.coe.ca is our web site.
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Nicki
November 23 2017 | 02:31
Dear Chris, Ryan and low life Trolls. I am an ex-Royal New Zealand Service Person, who served in the RNZAF, the RNZN and trained with the New Zealand Army. I have just returned from the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, set up and championed by HRH Prince Harry. It was set up for Defence Personal who were injured, had an accident or illness while serving their country. The people I met, competed with, swapped stories with, shed a tear or laughter with are all amazing in their own way. Just because a person looks 'normal', does not always mean they are. Those personal who have a hidden injury, are very often doing it the hardest. People do not understand the battle that goes on within 'our' heads, every single minute, hour, day and night, since the injury. So before you Trolls open your traps about something you only know half of, if anything; spend a day walking in our shoes and viewing the world through our eyes (head space). I met Ryan at the 2017 Toronto Invictus Games and he has taken his Games on with guts, effort and pride. Your trolling has undone the good that the Invivtus Games has done - so piss off back under your dark, little bridges; where you belong. When you have served your country with pride and personal loss, your opinion maybe considered. But let it be know: No brother or sister of the Armed Forces would ever turn against his fellow brother. when he or she is in need.
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