This story is hard for me to share because it was done to me, at the time, by someone I called my friend. It was also my first time being aware of and experiencing first-hand online slander. Could also be classified as gaslighting, or adult online bullying.
Before getting to the actual slander part, let me fill you in on the brief history. This guy and I were college friends. Several years after graduating, I met a girl, who then became my roommate. Getting to know her, I thought I'd try setting them up. It worked out perfectly because they were (and still are) a good match. I stand by this view.
Anyways, typically when this guy friend would visit, he'd bring his dog, which is fine; my other roommate had a dog, he was my friend, and I mean, who doesn't like dogs.
However, the issue with this visit is my friend didn't and wouldn't watch his dog. The dog destroyed my roommate's dog bed, pissed.
Strike 1: The dog destroyed my roommate's dog bed. It was ripped to shreds. We (the roommate and I) said it's okay; shit happens. He offered money to cover the cost of the bed, everything was fine.
Strike 2: the dog would get muddy outside, be let inside still dirty, and run all over the house. It was leaving trails of mud and dirt everywhere. It was again not cleaned up. My friend refused to put his dog in a crate because the dog would destroy the crate, mess up its nose, and break out.
Strike 3: The dog would piss in the house, and again my friend wouldn't clean it up.
Strike 4: The final strike was when my friend's dog attacked my cat. Below is how the events took place from my point of view.
^Remaining mud in my room after I cleaned up most of it. This was where the dog attacked my cat.
I was at work on this day and had to work two jobs this day. So I didn't get home until close to midnight. When I arrive, there is, of course, mud on the floors, and then I see blood. I call out for my cat's name, and she comes limping down the stairs. I take her into the kitchen, turn a light on, and see blood on her back legs and matted slobbered fur. Immediately, I am distraught, confused, and angry. I text my roommate (not the one dating said friend) and tell her what's going on. She said that she was naked in her room, and the visiting dog went after my cat. In her room, she heard the cat yelling, ran of her room naked to break up the fight. The dog was biting into my cat, which it had pinned on top of my bed. She was the only one home at the time. When my guy friend came back to our place later that day to get his dog and head back out of town, Micah told him what happened and assumed he would tell me what happened. He didn't.
This event happened that morning, and I didn't get home until close to midnight.
^One side of my cat's injuries. It doesn't look at bad as it was.
I text said guy friend irate (and using expletives). I explained what his dog did to my cat and then told him he needs to cover her vet costs because he wasn't home to watch his dog and didn't even bother to say it attacked my animal.
Said friend told me that he wouldn't talk to me until I calmed down because I was being irrational and mean. He then told me he wouldn't pay for the vet bill because we don't know who started it, and it was an accident also that he wouldn't pay for the vet bill based on how I was acting.
When I asked him if his dog had been outside and attacked another dog, would he pay for that bill? He said no.
Mind you, this dog was probably around 60 lbs, and my cat is 8lb. Moving on, I finally took my cat to the vet, and her only injuries were several puncture wounds. The vet trip cost me hundreds of dollars, but it was worth it.
The make matters worse, the girl roommate who was dating my guy friend was MIA. She completely ignored all of my texts and phone calls and ultimately sided with her boyfriend—my now ex-friend.
^My cat, after the vet. She was still oozing a bit, hence the towel.
This girlfriend story doesn't end here, and I don't feel the details matter much. But if you're like me, I'd be curious, so in summary, she moved out without telling my other roommate, and I then would only communicate with us via her mom. She also threatened not to pay rent or utilities.
Now, where does the slander part from above come in? My guy friend blocked my roommate and me on all social media, for whatever reason. After blocking us, he posted a multi bullet point post on Facebook, lying about me and accusing me of creating a fake Instagram account to send him messages claiming she had cheated on him. At first, I didn't care that he did this mainly because it fell into line with his behavior. I told myself he was emotionally angry and was venting.
But what bothered me, though, what made me feel dehumanized, were the comments. Ex-boyfriends and friends who had fallen outs with me after college commented on his post and said that they knew who he was talking about and that it sounded just like me. That I am crazy and irrational, and a bitch.
The people who didn't know me posted comments like, "how disgusting." "I can't believe someone would do that." "I'm so sorry you have to go through this." "Pathetic excuse of a person."
It was gut-wrenching how quickly all these strangers came to the aid of somebody who chose to slander somebody publicly only after making sure I was blocked, with no way to rebuttal. The people supporting his post gave the appearance that his behavior didn't say something about him as a person, but rather everything about the 'perpetrator,' me. I felt dehumanized.
Still today, I don't see my requesting my 'friend' pay for a vet bill after his dog attacked my cat in my house, especially with how disrespectful he was to our place. I don't see how any of my actions initiated such harmful rhetoric on a public social media platform. We could have talked on the phone, and I tried, but he blocked my number as well. I was utterly redacted from his life, except when he needed a scapegoat.
This brief span in my life bothered me and haunted me for legit years. Even now, when I think about it, I have an emotional response.
Although I'm no longer mad or hurt, the entire situation still makes me feel profound grief.
I lost many things from that situation:
a part of my reputation
the chance to gain redemption
the change to talk about the situation
my idea of what a friend
I haven't always been a kind person. I've made many mistakes and lashed out, especially when I was in my early twenties. I'm sure the people who commented on my friend's Facebook post, saying they knew who he was talking about, agreed with him because they felt it fit his narrative. This is an assumption on my part, but I didn't have the capacity at the time to do anything but assume. I don't blame them for how they felt, and I definitely will never tell someone how to feel. It didn't and didn't make it any easier. Even today, as I read the screenshot of his post, I find myself emotional.
I hope after reading this post, you all think about what you put out on social media. Furthermore, I hope you strive to hold yourself accountable for your actions, whether moral or not.
This situation wasn't my friend's finest moment, and although it caused me a lot of pain, I don't think it defines either of us as people. Today, I like to think that all the people who commented on that Facebook post, the friends that I lost, and myself are all different people than we were then. I hope that we have all been able to grow.
If you decide to comment below, please don't bash anyone in the above story. Because now, that is all it is, a story. It can't be dwelled on any longer. It can only be shared as an example. An example of what it can mean to be human. Which, in this case, was not somebody's best version. But that doesn't mean it's the only version of them.