Taking the Blogging High Road

‘When they go low, we go high…’

It’s become somewhat of a slogan for Michelle Obama, who first used the phrase during an incredible speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention – taking the high road and doing the right thing, even when it isn’t easy. 

While Michelle may be able to rise above it, I (however much I admire her), still find it one of the most difficult things to do. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on… well, I won’t have forgotten what you did the first time so you won’t get the chance to even think of fooling me again. 

I’m admittedly highly strung, easily rattled and have become more outspoken – even more so as I age – and as a result I find it enormously frustrating to have to keep my mouth shut and walk away when I see something that I believe to be untrue or unfair. Now that I’m self-employed I have to regularly check myself in what and how I say things because essentially, I’m on my own. 

Unfortunately, especially when working online, a thick skin and the ability to take the high road is part of the job description. It’s a confusing world to be a part of – particularly in the fact that every aspect of content creation and interaction has the ability to be edited to show the best possible side to a potential audience. This seemingly deceptive nature of blogging and accompanying false sense of security and anonymity that a computer screen provides enables a person to say whatever they want, whenever they want, often without the same fear of consequence or reciprocation that they would be held accountable for in the real world. The longer you inhabit the online world, the more common it is to witness and potentially get sucked into the self-entitlement, angst and outrage that populates the blogosphere and social media platforms on a daily basis. In fact, there are entire blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to it – ‘Drama’ content that focuses on the quarrels and spats going on between influencers. Continue reading

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Blog Envy and Trolls

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I always assumed that when I reached adulthood my social interactions would be much more simple and straightforward. As a teenager I was surrounded by people who were untrustworthy, two-faced and false, (although, luckily I had some good friends) and I looked forward to the day that I would be able to participate in relationships that were exactly as I perceived them to be.

Of course, in my naive little world, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Adults, are in fact, as bad, if not worse than children, particularly if they have a computer screen in which they can hide behind. When I was a teenager, the World Wide Web was in it’s early stages, there was no such thing as social media, and mobile phones were enormous chunky things that were mainly used by rich people working in the city. ‘Trolling’ was not a term I had ever heard of, aside from in the ‘Billy Goats Gruff’ story that I had read as a child.

However, as technology has developed, so has the troll. I always imagine that the troll hides in its darkened room, sitting at a display board made up of lots of monitors, surrounded by broken computers, wires and empty coffee cups, staring at the brightly lit screens in front of it and giggling nastily every time it writes a hurtful comment.

Unfortunately, the troll looks just like every other human being, and is impossible to identify based on appearance. The key to troll identification is within the comment section of lots of blogs.

In my experience, the blogging world is predominantly made up of opinion and, as bloggers, we all like to use our own little space of the Internet to share these with others – make-up to buy, recipes to follow, rantings about the lastest news stories, music to listen to and fashions to wear, to name a few.  There is nothing wrong with doing this – in 2014 we should be able to speak freely about subjects that interest and/or frustrate us. However, we also need to understand that when doing this it is highly unlikely that everyone will agree with us, and will use the comment section to spark a healthy debate.

Earlier in the year I wrote about my dislike of Justin Beiber, in which I listed many of his misdemeanours and gave my reasons as to why I felt that he was a poor role model to the millions of young teenagers worldwide that idolise him. Lots of commenters agreed with what I had written, but as I expected there were a few that didn’t, quite rightly pointing out that a nineteen year old boy with lots of money and very little guidance is bound to make mistakes. I appreciated those comments (aside from the one who made it personal by accusing me of being a bully), they made me think about things from a different perspective and I enjoyed the debate that started because of it, until Mr Troll got involved.

Mr Troll totally disagreed with what I said, and wrote a very long and abusive comment that somehow started with Justin Bieber and ended with Michael Jackson. It was so abusive, in fact, that I didn’t allow the comment to be posted (I moderate every comment before I allow them on my blog). When I didn’t respond, Mr Troll came back for more.

This is the difference between a troll and someone who disagrees with your opinion. A troll seeks to cause trouble and will return repeatedly if they feel that what they are doing is successfully having a negative impact. Rather than respectfully disagreeing with an opinion and explaining why, a troll will do their best to make things personal and hurt feelings, sometimes by writing extreme things that wish harm on the writer.

Having trouble with a troll?

1. Set your comment section so that all comments are required to be moderated by you first.

2. Delete the comment immediately, or move it to the spam section and take screen shots of it if you are genuinely concerned.

3. If your blog is public, you cannot block people and prevent them from following you in the same way that you can on Twitter. You can, however, by using their IP address, prevent them from commenting on your blog – it will be sent straight to the spam folder.

4. If you are concerned, contact WordPress. The admin guys have been amazing when I have asked them for assistance.

5. Focus on the positive people – they’re far more entertaining.

6. Try not to take it personally – there are always going to be idiots in every aspect of life.

WordPress is a community that I have always been proud to be part of. In just over a year of blogging I can genuinely state that I have had very few negative experiences – the Justin Bieber commenter being one of only a few occasions where someone has become extremely nasty – but I have found that, like in lots of areas of life at the minute, the negativity seems to be on the rise. I awoke this morning to see that one of my favourite bloggers has decided to cancel his account as he is sick of the abuse that he receives from trolls that are simply jealous of his extensive and loyal following. His blog is witty, insightful and honest and I look forward to every post. Since I began my blog TD has been nothing but supportive, taking the time to comment on and promote my posts, and I know for a fact that he does the same for hundreds of others out there too. I’m sorry he feels that deleting such a great blog is his only option, and I’m going to miss him.

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The reason why I believe that he has had to deal with abuse is because of the blog envy that seems to becoming more prominent in the WordPress world. It seems to be all about the numbers, rather than the content. I am the first to admit that I have shouted my blogging milestones from the rooftops on occasion, but I have done this because I am proud of what I have achieved, and have certainly never tried to make others feel small. Indeed, I have experienced blogging envy when others have done the same, and there are a few blogs out there that are so great I am jealous every time I read one of their fabulous posts. However, I would continue to write whether I had 100 followers or 10,000, because I write for me, and me alone. Always have.

So, for those of you who are spending far too much time comparing your own writings to everyone else’s, I’d like you to consider doing this:

1. Write fabulous posts that you enjoy.

2. Mind your own goddam business what everybody else is doing. Leave the trolling to Twitter.

What do you guys think? Have you had any bad experiences with trolls?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

 

image credits:

theatlantic.com

Ifiwereartemis.com