Yesterday I was checking my site analytics for 2011 for a future blog post. My traffic is pretty steady, so any abnormalities definitely stand out. Back last November I noticed a huge spike, and when I looked into it I saw it came from an extremely popular horse message board. Back when I worked at a major equine retailer in MA, I had to make banner advertisments to go on this message board for our company, and I think the whole site has bad vibes so I generally stay away from it. I did go take a look to see what post they were commenting on and what they were saying, and the results were particularly surprising.
A lot of my horse related traffic comes from the How to Make an Equestrian Ribbon Quilt post, but this one was referring to a post I wrote about how to piss off your horse boarders. Now this message board is known for its cliques and snarky people, but I wasn’t prepared for some of the responses to this post.
When you write a blog, you put yourself out on the internet for all to see. Not everyone is going to like what you have to say, and that’s OK. After reading the thread on my blog post, the first thought was that Cyber Bullying really wasn’t just for kids and teens. Anyone who writes a blog, posts on facebook, or pretty much does anything online these days can be victim to it… and I had some thoughts.
Identify What is Bullying
Posting something on the internet lasts forever, and this is even more important if what you post is tied to your name or a site that can link back to you (and really, all sites you make will link back to you in the end!). When you write something, someone will inevitably find it and disagree. The world is a big place, and it’s completely obvious that we all don’t agree. Criticism is not cyber bullying. With my post about the boarding issues, people reading it and thinking I am a high maintenance boarder is not cyber bullying. I might not agree, but that’s their opinion and the way I constructed my words could lead someone to think that. A blog post gives someone a snap judgement into my personality, and that’s all they see. Nothing I can do about that.
These kind of statements however, are bullying.
What a piece of work.
No, they inevitably break your heart by DYING, you stupid, self centered, PITA bitch, not by you getting your feewings hurted because Pookie dumped your ass at a show.
Most likely because you were riding like a drunken howler monkey, and more worried about your outfit and makeup than your form or the horse under you.
…and now I bet of those who didn’t think you were a fruitcake already from reading your blog, 80% do now lol.
Remember the Rule of Percentages
Experts on social media will tell you that of ALL your readers or subscribers on social media and blogs, 90% of the people will just read. About 8% will do a passive response, like hit the “Like” button or share a link. The remaining 2% are the only people who will actually take the effort to comment on something.
The thread on my blog at this message board is pretty short – about 2 pages or 20 replies give or take. Only 2-4 of them were what I would flag as bullying or excessive complainers. At work our Community leader calls this the Vocal Minority. Just because a few people say something in a loud and overt way, doesn’t mean it reflects the ideals of the entire community.
Proof is in the pudding. On the two days (one in November, one recently when I found the post) that the thread about my blog was in the “New Posts” area of this board, I got about 800 blog hits. Of those 800, there were no comments on the blog (negative or positive). About 30% of the board posts were either disagreeing or bullying, but the rest were neutral or positive. Just because the “meanies” scream the loudest, doesn’t mean you should think everyone hates you and give up blogging.
Keep in Mind Bullies are Cowards
The few people that have a huge problem with me to the point where they felt inclined to call me a bitch are hiding behind their computers. They choose to write on the message board instead of my blog itself, because they didn’t want any kind of confrontation for their actions. I’m sure they never realized that not only was I a member of this board, but did read it and post occasionally. The internet gives us a mask of anonyminity, and a lot of people respond to that by having an internet persona that does not match up to the way they would act in real life.
I”m sure the person who called me a bitch (plus a bunch of other oh-so-fun adjectives) is perfectly pleasant in real life and would never say that to my face. She wouldn’t even say those things to my actual site. In fact, out of all the people in the post that responded rudely or didn’t agree with my post, absolutely no one replied when I actually showed up on the boards and said hello.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Take the higher ground. Treat others as you would want yourself treated. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Whatever adage you like, remember it when you respond to a bully or write anything on the internet at all really. No matter how big my urge was to reply to the worst offender of the cyber bullies with WELL YOU ARE A FARTY FACE POOPY PANTS, it reflects much better on me as a person to just rationally explain my thoughts and introduce myself… and that’s what I did.
I hope I don’t have to deal with this stuff often, but it’s possible. The internet is full of trolls and cowardly bullies, and they’re sure to find their way here again. I’ll consider this little blip as prep for dealing with it in the future!