First things first. Go and read this post.
Yes, its long; stick it out. At the very least, make sure you read the part below the asterisks (****)
Terrible isn’t it?
But not a new story. And this is what makes it even more tragic.
I’m not sure what drives people to post comments like those this author talks about. Is is because the author is a woman and people feel the need to put down women? Is it because the author keeps a food blog and doesn’t fit people’s idea of what a “proper appearance” is? Is it because she has a popular online space and people feel the need to put down anyone they can who enjoys any kind of celebrity through working hard at what they do? Is it because they are anonymous online and feel powerful from that fact?
Whatever the reason is, it is unfortunately, a reality.
Over the years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of nasty comments and helped others through their own. My students have been overwhelmingly fortunate with their own online school spaces. Except for a few notable exceptions, nasty comments have been few and far between. But I always prepare the kids in my classroom to the fact that part of sharing who you are and what your passions are with others means that you sometimes need to have a thick skin.
Don’t get me wrong in any way. I believe that we should do everything we can to out people who act like this online. Their spaces should be widely shared and they should be held to account. Brought up on harassment and hate speech charges if possible. No one should feel comfortable in civil society speaking this way and no one should have to put up with it. It is one thing to have to defend your ideas and in a legitimate debate and conversation. It is quite another to have to explain yourself to jerks. Often, actually, there is no explaining yourself to people like these. They may be asking your opinion about something, but they don’t really want it. There is no explaining yourself to jerks.
The best thing that you can do is delete them and their thoughts. It is simple cyberbullying. No way around it.
Having access to these tools gives us the opportunity to have a voice and share ourselves with many others. This can be a powerful and an empowering experience. But not everyone will like the thoughts you share. Not everyone likes the fact that opinions out there may be different from theirs. And they will do everything they can to chase you off the internet. Close off opinions that might be challenging.
Don’t let them do it.
Always know that people are around who will support you. Who know what you are going through. Who have had the same experience and may have some technical expertise tracking people down or at least with shutting people up.
Because, sometimes, that’s part of the reality of working online too.