WAY TOO CLOSE!!! (from



I haven’t slept in two days. Not for lack of trying; I’m tired, I get to bed at my normal hour, read for ten or fifteen minutes, and turn off the light. But when I close my eyes, instead of falling to sleep, I find my mind bombarded with flashbacks of the day’s news. Hours of nervous fidgeting follow, hours of turning over and over in my bed like a rotisserie chicken trying to get comfortable on a spit. When dawn comes, I get up, my heart jackhammering in my chest, and I want to puke. And I know what the problem is - I’m triggered.

Being "triggered" of course, is the psychological state of being exposed to discomfiting information or imagery that brings on a profound, upsetting emotional experience. The word is generally used to demean people who feel things. Having never been triggered before, I didn't fully understand it until now. And there's no other word to express my level of anxiety. I am full-on triggered. 

The question I’ve been struggling to answer is: why? Why have the headlines of the last few days upset me so much? I’m no longer concerned about a Trump presidency. That monster will never get near the White House. But the damning tape from 2005 in which he and the “journalist” Billy Bush casually discuss Trump’s attempts to “fuck” Billy’s married co-worker and Trump’s assertion that he doesn’t ask permission from women to kiss them or “grab their pussies,” left me feeling sick.

To be clear, I’ve never been the victim of sexual assault, although I once sat too hard on my bicycle’s crossbar. But I have never experienced sexual trauma at the hands of another. So it’s not as if I’m being triggered because of something that happened to me. It’s more than that. It’s the culmination of a year and a half of the worst of humanity, in particular male humanity, given voice and legitimacy by tens of millions of my fellow citizens. It is the shrugging of the shoulders at hate speech directed at every conceivable minority in the nation, as well as women, who constitute the majority. It’s a year and a half of receiving thousands of anti-Semitic Twitter messages directed at me through Twitter. It’s watching the rise of the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to an American fascist and his sweaty band of sycophants defending his every stupid, fucking utterance. And the millions of people going along with them. It’s watching my country popping apart at seams I once thought were strong. I didn’t think it would get this far. I was wrong.

I didn’t think our country was so filled with sexual abuse. I was wrong about that, too.

Last Sunday night, as I prepared to watch the presidential debate, I read a few Twitter friends saying they’d be unable to watch because doing so might reawaken their own sexual traumas. My friend Kelly started a hashtag, #notokay, in which people shared details of their own sexual assaults. She got tens of thousands of responses. Last night, my thirteen-year-old and I were out together, and I explained sexual assault to her, and I told her that if anything like that should ever happen to her, to tell somebody – hopefully, to tell me – that she never feel like it’s ever fault or that she should feel ashamed. That we are here to help her, to be her advocates, to support her. And, as I told her all of this, walking through Manhattan, I worried what people would think of me walking arm in arm with a teenage girl. I don’t know if I told her the right things or not. Nobody tells you how to have that conversation.

I talked to my son, too. He’s fifteen and he wants a girlfriend. I told him, when he’s courting a girl, he needs to respect her boundaries and personal space, that no means no. I told him some girls find themselves attracted to guys who treat them like shit, but he should never make the mistake of becoming one of those guys, even if it means those girls only ever see him “as a friend.” Treat women with respect, I told him, and go slow. I don’t know if I told him the right things or not. Nobody tells you how to have that conversation, either.

And, of course, when I woke up this morning, my pulse was racing. I tried watching the news but could not. I tried reading the paper but could not. Because I’m triggered. And I welcome those who would mock me for being so. I welcome the hatred they will send me and the Pepe the Frog memes and the references to my being a “special snowflake” and the “safe space” I undoubtedly need. Because they are right. I am scared. Not for me. For my family, and for the culture. I don’t know what will happen when Donald Trump returns to destroying businesses, but I hope that we will all kind of shake ourselves awake after this long and sleepness night and realize we can do better. That we deserve better. That we are better.




Some Thoughts on Twitter and Censorship

I did not like Ghostbusters. The old one. It’s just not that funny. I haven’t seen the new one yet, but probably will at some point because everybody eventually sees everything. All I really know about the new one is that a lot of people are upset about it for reasons which remain unclear to me, but seem to involve male rage, Gamergate, and making America great again.

One of the stars, Leslie Jones, spent her Monday retweeting the racist and misogynistic shit hurled in her direction for the crime of, as she said, “making a movie.” At the end of the day, signed off“in tears and with a very sad heart.”

Afterwards, many people called for Twitter to “do something” about the barrage of rampant hate speech Jones and so many others experience on the site. A day later, Twitter permanently suspended Breitbart “tech editor” Milos Yiannopoulos for inciting his hundreds of thousands of followers to go after Jones on Twitter, as well as for making his own hateful comments towards her. I have no problem with Twitter kicking off Yiannopoulos because: 1. They are a company who can do whatever they want. 2. He is a raging asshole.


I have complicated feelings about this subject because, to me, the great appeal of Twitter is that it allows me to say whatever I want, however I want to say it. Of course, if I have this privilege, so does everybody else on the site, including trolls and hatemongers and white supremacists and, most offensive of all, bland corporate tweets wishing me a happy Hanukkah or whatever.

So how does Twitter continue to be the great free speech forum I enjoy while also making sure its users feel safe? To be clear, when I say “safe,” I do not mean immune from challenging language. I mean, physically safe. I have seen countless tweets from (almost always anonymous users) threatening to rape, assault, and lynch people. A physical threat needs to be taken seriously. But then there are more oblique threats, like the ones sent to Jewish users showing images of gas chambers and concentration camps. The ones impersonating a user’s dead parents or friends. People feel unsafe when they receive these messages and I, for one, am not going to tell them they’re wrong to feel that way.

What does Twitter do? Where do they draw the line? If they ban somebody for threatening to knock somebody out, what do they do when a user tweets to another that “somebody should kick your ass?” Is that the same level of threat? Is racist imagery a threat? Some would say yes, some no. How does Twitter police every message that goes out? Should they?

I would argue no. The great promise of social media is its unique ability to allow users to connect. Those connections are often wonderful, and often not. Yes, Twitter can (and should) suspend people like Yiannopoulos who repeatedly stir up vicious hatred. Yes, they need to investigate overt physical threats when they’re made aware of them, and suspend users who make them. But censorship is a slippery slope and I would rather Twitter err on the side of leniency than suppression, and I would rather users stopped being total fucking dickheads. 

Taping Tonight

I'm a taping a stand-up special tonight. I say that with some trepidation, as I'm not 100% sure that I'm ready to do that. I've been working on this special for about six months and the truth is, I could use another six months. This is one of the problems I have with myself: rushing headlong into something without giving myself the proper time and space to see it through. Which is not to say the special won't be good; I think it will be. But things can always be better and I wish I had the time to make this thing better, too. That being said, when it comes out on Netflix or whatever, just pretend it's the most brilliant thing you've ever seen. 

On Ambition

Just watched a movie written by and starring a well-known personality not known for his acting. This personality had a large hand in the creation of this film. Let me say this: it is not a good movie. But in it's not-goodness, I found something else I like almost as much as quality: ambition. For a lot of people, it's easy to keep doing what they do, to do what they know themselves to be good at doing. It's an easy way to conduct one's life, and maybe even an admirable one insomuch as mastery of one's craft is a worthy goal. Nobody's going to get on YoYo Ma's dick if he doesn't pick up a clarinet. But I love when people take a chance. I love when people show sides of themselves we may not have known existed before. And maybe those chances don't always pan out. Maybe they never pan out. So what? Ambition isn't the same thing as success. It's the desire to try, and, maybe, it leads to action. It's true that anything worth doing is worth doing well, but doing nothing is not worth doing at all. 

After Much Delay

I have created a new website for myself. Here you will find current tour schedules, musings, photos, and maybe even a laugh or two. Boy, I hope we find some time to laugh together. 

Blogging is pretty annoying, and I don't anticipate doing a ton of it, but every now and again, I may post some shit here when Twitter's character limits stifle my muse. MY MUSE WILL NOT BE STIFLED!!!

I will also probably use this website to promote stuff, including my new book, Navel Gazing, due out in January. Perhaps I will run excerpts to whet your whistle. Perhaps I will not need excerpts to whet your whistle. Perhaps, just perhaps, your whistle is already pretty whet. 

My hope is that we will become great friends, you and I. 

Until then, I remain your...

Michael Ian Black