Cyber bullies are mean -- especially to women, but also to men. Which is why so many public figures, from Lindy West to Ed Sheeran, have "quit social media" and "left Twitter."
But bullies can also be a blogger's greatest ally! My email list basically doubled this week because a few damaged people decided to call me names on our high school alumni page.
That's the silly thing that bullies don't realize. By "hating" on me... they're kind of giving me exactly what I want. (Kind of like how protestors of conservative speakers take what would have been a one-time audience of 50-100 students, and turn it into an international sensation
It wasn't news to me that when people are mad (and/or unstable, and/or lonely, and/or jealous), they make a lot of noise -- whereas when people agree with you, they tend to stay quiet, expressing their support privately.
Especially when you've written about something controversial! No one wants to be the next target of a witch hunt.
My phone vibrated continuously for days this week -- so I can't say that I blame them for staying quiet. I'd've felt bad if they didn't!
But, a while back, when I published 7 Reasons Why I Feel Sorry for People Who Call Me Ugly, someone commented and asked why I hadn't just published a generic, "How to Deal With Bullying as a Blogger" article.
The answer was... Why would I want to write something boring and generic? That's exactly why most companies fail at content marketing. Instead of writing something only they can write... they want articles that will "increase their SEO," like, "How to Save for Retirement." Instead of something super unique and helpful and interesting, like, "5 Social Security Loopholes You NEED to Know About NOW."
I'm not an expert on cyber bullying, and I'm only really called names from time to time (I'm not nearly cool enough to get the same level of trolling as Sally Satel or Ayan Hirsi Ali) -- always by people whose self-esteem is so low that they think calling a stranger a name on the internet is an effective way to hurt them.
Like this guy:
Which -- can I just say? I find it a LOT creepier when old men I don't even know read page after page of my blog, looking for evidence of "self-regard"... than I'd find a story about an 8th grader with self-confidence. (Though, to his credit, he's got something in common with One Direction and Bruno Mars: they all get ruffled by women with confidence, and apparently prefer their women meek and insecure.)
I don't really understand hate-reading. ("Maybe just that people love to feel morally superior?" one friend suggested this morning. Jon Haidt would agree!) Maybe it's one of those, it's-better-to-feel-something-than-nothing things? I don't know. The closest I've come is clicking Everyday Feminism links sometimes -- but much of the time, I actually agree with them. It's just the really egregious stuff I call out.
Plus, let's be real: I've monteized disagreeing with Everyday Feminism. I've built a community around open dialogue about tough issues. And I think I'm actually making a difference by countering "fainting couch," "woman-as-a-child," regressive feminism... with something informative and empowering.
For example, one of my top-performing posts this month is Everyday Feminism Just Gave THE WORST Advice EVER to Women, POC and Other Marginalized Folks. I think it counters stupid, ridiculous advice (networking is "entitled white person crap"; "self-promotion" is bad; etc.) with some pretty good advice (one of the biggest things holding women back professionally is failure to self-promote; GOOD networking is mutually beneficial; etc.)
Notice, though, that I didn't monetize, build community, and offer good advice through ad hominems. I did this crazy thing where I mentioned the parts of the argument I disagreed with, and then explained why I disagreed with them.
But I digress. The point is, someone once asked me why I wouldn't write "general advice" regarding trolls and bullies. I can't speak generally, but here are a few of my personal thoughts:
Who cares what an angry internet mob thinks? (Remember: words only hurt if you let them.)
The angriest, craziest people are always the loudest.
Not only do they make themselves look bad with their dumb ad hominems and inability to come up with a viable counterargument...
But they also drive a lot of traffic back to your site, which is helpful in several ways. Not the least of which being that much of that traffic is people who quietly support you, which you'll realize when that little spike in your traffic never quite returns to where it was before "the incident", when the messages start coming in, and when your inbox is full of new email list signups.
Too bad I rarely get around to actually sending email updates. #goals
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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