Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Love and war in the blogging world

I’ve been mulling over the issue of how to deal with hostility in the blogging world because of recent experiences encountered by two of my favorite bloggers, Steve at Bloggertropolis and Veronica at Sleepless Nights. In Steve’s case someone took offense to a joking comment he left on a post and in Veronica’s case someone was angered over the fact that she copied a conversation from Twitter to illustrate a point she was making. Instead of just shaking it off or engaging the other in conversation, they reacted with incredible venom. In both cases the offended party made unfounded accusations and threatened legal action, and in Veronica’s case reported her to her host and left a negative review on StumbleUpon.

I’m not going to link to the post at Bloggertropolis that discusses the furor because it’s died down now and been smoothed over and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. If you’re really curious I’m sure you can dig through his archives and find it. While you’re there, read some of his other most excellent posts – he’s a comic genius. Comments have been closed on the post at Sleepless Nights, so I can safely link.

We all make flippant or sarcastic comments now and then. We all have days when we inspire and days when we vent. We’re human. We trust that our readers will extend us some understanding as we write across this broad spectrum. If someone judges us, we trust they will judge us based on this sum total and not an isolated comment that is misconstrued. Because that is what people do who are well-intentioned.  I've had the benefit of reading enough of both Steve and Veronica's writings to know them as genuine, kind-hearted people of integrity. So they can flip off snarky comments to me until the cows come home and I'll only love them all the more.

I’ve had the good fortune to encounter almost no hostility in the blogworld (knock wood). I’ve had the misfortune of having to deal with quite a bit of it in my personal life. What I’ve learned is this. You will inevitably, in life, encounter people who will be hurt or offended by something you do. Sometimes their hurt will seem wildly out of proportion to whatever the perceived offence was. This generally will have very little to do with you and quite a lot to do with the other person’s skewed reality. They may try to engage you in long and drawn out arguments in an effort to prove their point. My advice? (So glad you asked.) Don’t engage. Because trying to rationally explain your position to someone who is invested in being right at all costs is like walking into a never-ending labyrinth.

How do I know this? I spent a lot of years lost in that labyrinth and going quietly bonkers, wondering why my perfectly reasonable and oft-repeated explanations were falling on deaf ears.

Explain your position. Back away slowly. Disengage.

Much easier said than done. I particularly have trouble with this when it’s a friend of mine that comes under attack (or if it’s my children, all bets are off). I go into mama lion mode.

The internet is a big, wide, crazy world. Eventually, we will bump into all kinds. But it’s good to know that the majority of us are only crazy in a good way.

If you’re like me and you think Sleepless Nights is the cat’s meow, and you’re a member of StumbleUpon, why not head there right now and give her a thumbs up and a positive review. And while you’re at it give Bloggertropolis a thumbs up too. Because in my world, good always triumphs over animus.

*** ADDENDUM ***

Comments have been closed on this post.

Please know that a few readers who have commented on this post as well as many who have commented on several of Veronica's posts are now having angry comments left on their blogs by the person commenting below as "anon".  You can see Veronica's latest post on internet bullying for more details.

If you feel you are being harassed in this way, I suggest you take screen shots of the IP address (if you have tracking software) and the comment with the matching time stamp, then delete the comment without responding.

Very sad, very disturbing. xx

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  1. I experienced this in the offline world yesterday. Disengaging was the best course of action. My thick skin has been honed thanks that 20 years as a journalist, helps but still is a shock when someone unleashes on you.

  2. Thanks very much. I'm wishing that I'd closed comments as soon as she had her 'right to reply' (that was rudely demanded and I granted, because I'm nice like that) and left the whole thing alone. Mostly it's died down, but I had a comment a little while ago on a recent post from someone different asking me to remove the twitter post.

    I'm hoping it dies down, because it's no fun. No, really. Heh.

  3. Also, I just checked, there are now two negative reviews of my post on stumble - same person. Ugh. Feels crappy.

  4. Good bloody gravy - that whole middle paragraph, about trying to rationalise? I so wish i had realised that 12 months ago. I am now down one best friend because of her skewed view of reality and frankly, after all the kerfuffle, i'm kind of glad i've finally seen the real her. It feels freeing to no longer be friends with her....
    But hey, i guess it takes all types to make the world go round right?

  5. I'm sorry, but I think I love you K.

    Misunderstood stalker extraordinaire...

  6. I hear what you're saying. I reacted badly to something someone posted the other day. I felt insulted and offended, not only on my own behalf, but for a group of people who are regularly the brunt of jokes and name-calling.
    In retrospect, I should have kept my mouth shut. I'm not going to change that bloggers' mind, or suddenly persuade her to have some respect.
    Next time, I hope I think a little more before deciding to spit the dummy.

  7. Great post K, as usual, spot on with what you have written. If you don't like something someone has blogged about then don't read it, how boring would the world be if everyone agreed about everything all the time. There is however no need to be spiteful or vicious when leaving comments. Unless I suppose you are a naturally spiteful and vicious person. Sorry to hear 2 lovely bloggers have been the subject of this type of attack.

  8. Totally sympathise with Veronica - it's so horrible and you feel so helpless. This is why it is so hard to disengage because the only voice you have it your own and the only thing you can do is use it. However, looking back I think possibly you're right. Say less and most important of all move on and leave the shit stirrers behind. What appalled me most was how my stats and comments went through the roof. At first it was nice and I saw it as a positive - so many people, most strangers to me, offering their support. But there was a darker side to it to - all these people wanting to jump in to the scrap and keep it going. It was horrible and so not what my blog was about. As it was I was a little culpable for the whole scenario as it was an ill-timed and ill-advised jokey coment of mine that kicked it all off. There's a lesson for me to learn there methinks... but the hysteria that ensued was ridiculous and has made me want to avoid certain factions of the blogging world as much as I can. I'm quite happy with my sane, lovely and limited readership. Thank you for this post. It's restored my faith somewhat in the blogging world and my heart goes out to Veronica. All I can say it: it will die down and these idiots will move on. Sadly to a new target.

  9. Bloody hell - just got through reading the comments at Veronica's. I am fed up with ppl stomping all over the blogosphere threatening legal action. I planned to retire my clinically fed up blog this week and went out with a bit of a bang basically outing a lot of the bitchiness in the British Mummy Blogging community, a community I have been keen to disengage from for some time now. A day after being told it would be removed one of the Mums decided to start demanding it be taken down and threatening all sorts of legal action, solicitors letter, calling me libellous. For that reason alone I plan to continue paying for the hosting indefinitely - and I'm still waiting on my letter. They are definitely of a type these people.... twats.

  10. Late. Again. And have to be up in 6 hours. Comment coming tomorrow, which hopefully will be parking fine and cat attack free (both of which I do not feel I deserved)!

  11. I really don't get why people get so mad, make things so personal? No sense at all - Veronica is an amazing writer and certainly does not tread nastily on people - it's insane to react like that. I need to check out Bloggertropolis, but I trust your opinion. madness

  12. For the record, Steve and Veronica, I didn't mention it above (and should have) but I admire how well you both handled your situations, staying above board throughout.

  13. @ Ratz, yes, I still believe that!

    @ Styling you, it never stops being a shock.

    @ Veronica, a second one?! Ugh.

  14. @ Amy, sorry you had to go through that but I understand what you mean about how ending it feels freeing.

    @ Madmother, I love you too! xo

    @ Toni, we all get reactionary, I do it too. What is pathological, though, is when someone reads far more into something than is there and just * doesn't * let * it * drop!

  15. @ Kim, xoxo

    @ Kakka, yeah, I try to click away from the things I don't like. *Try*

    @ Steve, there seem to be a lot of people that seek out and feed on drama. Shudder. As I said, I thought you handled it with aplomb.

    @ Nikki, you're closing your blog??!! Maybe you should just become a faux Aussie like me. They're a friendly bunch.

  16. Excellent post. I have only had one hostile encounter, way back when I first started posting and a couple of my regular readers responded to that person in my defense. I was so surprised and grateful! It does take all kinds.

  17. This is unbelievable. This blog is full of inaccuracies and you all believe it!

    Firstly, Veronica edited the conversation, I have seen the archived timeline which is freely available online. All the subsequent comments therefore, including this blog, are based on something which was fabricated to fit in with their agenda.

    Secondly, no one was threatened at all. If you check over the said blog, anyone can see that saying you will 'seek legal advice' does not mean you will sue that person. It could simply mean that you will check a point of law. No one has ever said they will sue so this is a blatant lie.

    Thirdly, it was the mother of Veronica who made a snide comment first and expected something for nothing. If you do not wish people to defend themselves, then don't make snide comments in the first place!

    I guess you're all the kind of people that believe everything you read in the tabloids too. None of you have considered that what you're all taking part in is libelous behavior. Few of the facts here in relation to Veronica's blog are correct.

    The reason thing escalated is purely down to the fact that the conversation was edited and TAS was mis-represented. Nor were they given right of reply until they asked for it. TAS is a great site where a lot of good work is being done to help creative people. I am really disgusted that this is going on. These people have worked tirelessly and all for nothing. Why are you all so willing to believe everything you read?!

    Opinions were and are based on a lie which is totally unfair.

  18. Mmmm, that's strange, you would think if 2 of your favorite bloggers had been met with hostility, you would have learned from them?

  19. I made that mistake once when someone left a 'helpful' (according to him) comment on my blog which was rude, tasteless, and..well...I just need to let it go. I found out later that he is well known for doing that kind of crap and yet people still engage him.

    Most people who do that are trying to get you riled...they want/need that conflict. I've become pretty good at staying out of that crap even to defend a friend because it only encourages them. If I'm particularly annoyed I'll go write a vague post/poem on my own blog to get it out of my system and move on.

    Don't engage...you are perfectly right. It is the very best thing you can do.

  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  21. @ Watershedd, go to bed!

    @ Glen, I don't get it either. Do check out Steve's blog, it's wonderful.

    @ Eva, your readers love you, with good cause.

    @ Autumn Raven, you're right, the people who do this on one blog typically do the same thing elsewhere. Best to ignore.

  22. P.S. I have a delete key and I'm not afraid to use it.

    I've linked to the post on Sleepless Nights. No need to duplicate the 150 angry comments already left there. Thank you.

  23. I have just had a totally fucking arsey comment left on my brand new blog from that dickhead JOE, so fucking brave he/she/it won't leave a link but I assume its from the same twat who raged all over Veronica's. Not sure why I deserve a trolling but Twitter is about to be lashed with @totalartsoul and a lot of fucking swearing.

  24. @ Nikkii, deep breaths, a negative comment won't hurt you or me or anyone else who has a history to stand behind. Sometimes that happens when you are brave enough to state you mind and link your name and your blog, as people do when they've nothing to hide.

    It was not my intention to start a fight with this post, only to suggest how to respond to vitriol.

    I suppose an opportunity is presenting itself.

  25. I have been engaged socially online for years, and what I know about trolls is that they feed off attention. They seek attention, create drama to create tension/attention, and nourish themselves with the chaos they create.

    An old standby in dealing with trolls is: "DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!"

  26. Both ace bloggers the two of them so when you are cool and popular people like to have a pop. I've recently blogged about the same thing happening on Twitter but discussed how celebs like to air their dirty laundry.

    When you get crap thrown at you- some hefty traffic usually arrives with it so i suppose it's publicity but when it's personal and venomous it's hard to look on that brightside.

  27. It's just such a load of bollocks all this... Veronica was merely using that convo to point out how easy it is to get the wrong end of the stick. Something that we all got from it at the time, and these people are now doing nothing but leaving themselves a bad name by lashing out, that "Joe" in particular. Quite pathetic really.

  28. I must leave a sheltered life. I have never had any trolls or spam.

  29. It is a bit odd that people are overreacting to blog posts so much. I saw the whole Bloggertropolis hoo-ha (shh, don't tell him, but I'm stalking him, not brave enough to comment on his blog) and then there was the BMB bust-up (from which community I have quietly withdrawn). And now they're picking on Veronica. It all seems a bit over the top to me.

  30. @ Celeste, so true. That is why I always go to lunch with you instead.

    @ MissyM, so does this mean I'm now cool and popular? Woo hoo!

    @ Marylin, it was obvious to all of us. xx

  31. @ Badger - too sheltered. You need to spend more time going through customs at Ben Gurion.

    @ Barbara - ooh, off to tell now!

  32. I've had similar experience on a messageboard. To the point that it spilled over to threatening text messages. Bit scary that. An online friendship gone badly wrong.

    Thankfully my blog has not attracted such attention. :: touch wood ::

  33. I am so so sorry Kristin, and Nikkii, they've been clicking out to everyone. Ugh.

  34. @ Veronica, you have nothing to apologize for. xx

    @ Leechbabe, threats are always scary. Sorry for your experience.

  35. Loving the comment about customs at Ben Gurion, oh how I relate! PMSL. Wow Wanderlust. Just an incredulous 'wow'. Some people eh? I've had a few brushes with people who don't like my blog and writing. I once simply wrote to them and told them that if they didn't like my point of view, they could always NOT read my blog.

  36. @ Vegemitevix - Mmmm, yes, that little grey "x" at the top of the screen. It can be your friend!

  37. Well done to Veronica and Steve for dealing with their situations in the best possible manner.

    It's very sad to know that some people will go so low as to troll numerous other people simply for supporting someone who has done nothing wrong.

  38. I went to bed, only to be woken by the GOFA in the wee hours. It really hasn't been my day!

    I feel like someone rang a bell in the boxing ring and only one person went back to their corner! Time I crammed some work in before I fly out for a mad weekend conference and hopefully, an hour or two with the GOFA.

  39. The very nature of being anonymous is to hide behind smoke, mirrors and lies. If what you say is true then stick your name to it. Enough said.

  40. I'd just like to say that I was the person who disagreed with Steve, and I have apologised publically, sadly at the time I was being attacked both via blogs, and Twitter and via email as well. It got to the stage where I wasn't sure who was involved, and frankly I'd had enough. I have now left all forums I was involved in, as I have found these are the breeding ground for the unpleasantness and now use Twitter only to converse with friends.

    I don't think its fair that the disagreement between myself and Steve was allowed to be used to continue to be abusive to me, what really upsets me is these people remain anonymous, which heightens the feeling that you can't trust anyone. I can't comment on the other post as I know nothing about it, but just wanted to point out the situation as it stood between Steve and myself.

  41. Something we agree upon. Anonymity in most cases sadly is a manifestation of the disease not the cure.

  42. @ 20somethingmum - I'm glad things are resolved with you and Steve. There is nothing abusive in my post.



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