While there are a lot of downsides to living a virtual life, confining one's face and one's passion into a computer screen, there are upsides too. About three months ago I met someone on Facebook and we've been chatting ever since. I'm not sure how he found me or why he messaged me but he did. I get a lot of unsolicited messages on Facebook and can't keep with the volume, but this one caught me, "IS IT OKAY FOR ME TO BE ANGRY AT SOMEONE?" That was it, I was intrigued. I checked the profile and saw that he was a man with Down Syndrome from the coast of British Columbia.
I responded, "Yes it's okay to feel all your feelings, including anger. Can I ask what made you feel angry?"
"YOU WON'T GET MAD WILL YOU? PEOPLE GET ANGRY WITH ME FOR FEELING ANGRY."
Okay then, let's slow this down a bit. "No, I won't get angry at you for feeling anger, I may be concerned what you do with your anger, but I won't be mad. Oh, and can you write me back without all caps? It's like you are shouting."
"I never hit people, even when I'm angry."
"Good on you, so are you going to tell me what made you angry?"
I don't hear back from him for several days. I thought that I had stuck my nose in and scared him off. I figured if I hadn't heard in a week, I'd write and apologize. He has a right to anger, sure, but he also has the right to privacy.
"Just as the week was ending he wrote back. "I don't like what they do with their eyes."
"Are you talking about being stared at?"
He then described to me a life of difference and how that difference was like a magnet pulling attention to him. He said when he goes grocery shopping people stare, ALL THE TIME, ALL THE TIME, ALL THE TIME.
And that makes him angry. He also told me that his staff doesn't like it when he wants to talk about it and they tell him to just ignore it. "I just can't," he said.
"Last time a group of teenagers stared at me, I got angry. I told them that they were rude and should be ashamed of themselves. Then I stood there and stared at them. They tried to make me stop but I didn't. They just left."
"I got punished for not being appropriate in the community, but I don't care, THEY weren't being appropriate."
Then after a second. "Are you mad at me?"
"No," I wrote back, "I'm really proud of you."
"I am to." he said and then for emphasis, "I AM TOO."