Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Insults Will Not Define Me: Surviving Internet Bullies

When my parenting post received international recognition I was thrilled.  Trying to break into a writing world that's already so noisy is not easy and any little crack that lets you whisper through is a huge victory as far as I'm concerned. 

But recognition means more people. 

And not all of them are nice.
Compliments may affirm me but insults will not define me - Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect
Another blogger took it upon herself to publicly ridicule me through a post of her own while taking the message of my original article wildly out of context.  I would never expect that everyone would {or should} agree with me, no matter what I'm talking about. I am open to discussions that point out where I might be wrong, where I should take a step back or a second look. I am happy to engage in such an exchange where all parties are respectful and treated with courtesy.

Instead, I began to receive nasty comments here in my happy blog space.

Comments like:
Ah, shut your sanctimonious blowhole. You spent 2 minutes in line with this family and you spent how many HOURS writing an 'open letter' to him that he will never, ever see? Don't you have something better to do with half your day? Couldn't that time have been better well spent helicopter parenting your children? This is the stupidest, most condescending blog post I've seen in awhile. You apparently just need internet strangers to validate your judgement of others. I feel sorry for you. 

{I feel dirty posting that here but I want to give an honest look at what's been coming at me.}

Those kept coming all day.

And I thought I was okay.

Until I realized that every time my phone beeped it's little 'you've got mail' beep I was feeling an anxious wave of nervous energy shudder through my body.

It's ridiculous to be afraid to read your own mail. Words are only words. They are letters. They are alphabet soup.

I choked on the C the R the U the E and the L.

We all view the world through different coloured lenses and that diversity is what makes the world so unique and exciting. The problem is that I exist happily in this little space carved out for me, surrounding myself with people of similar values and morality and too often I forget that there are people beyond my borders who just don't care about me, my happiness or my opinions.  

I am naive. 

I believe in the general goodness of humanity.

And humanity repays me by making me the target of some hateful judgements.

This is a small demographic I'm referring to. The people I surround myself with did exactly that - they surrounded me and supported me and lifted me back up and dusted off the grime of ugliness with their generous kindness.

I am blessed.

But, if I'm to be completely honest, I'm also mad as hell.

This blog is my space. I am proud of it. I have poured my heart into it and I work hard to do it with integrity. It shouldn't be too much to ask that people play nice.

To have to enable comment moderation because I can no longer trust people to be respectful is infuriating.

To have to put a 'be kind' warning with the comment prompting is infuriating.

To find myself writing this post is infuriating.  {I'd much rather be telling you about Liam and how instead of asking for more coleslaw he asked for 'cold slop'!}

Maybe I'm being a coward by deleting the hurtful things but there's really no reason to condone or perpetuate such behaviour by allowing it a platform. Ultimately, this space is mine and I will decorate it accordingly with thoughtful discussion and the golden rule.

The most important thing this has taught me is that I'm a lot stronger than I thought. That compliments might affirm me but insults will not define me. That I will rise above the ugly and continue on in my search for everyday joy. That I will not take kindness for granted. That as I count my blessings I will quickly see how deeply I can bury the curses.

Did it hurt? Sure.
Am I broken? No way.
Will I let it stop me? Not a chance!

6 comments :

  1. It's not cowardly to delete hateful messages--not even a little. In time, I'd imagine you'd be able to turn off comment moderation again and allow it to happen organically, but there's nothing wrong with it in the mean time. Glad that you're moving past it. And I don't blame ya--I'd be mad as hell too!

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    1. Thanks, Aidan! Time will tell, I suppose - about the moderation - to not trust people is acting outside the way I've been wired. Thanks for always being a supportive voice!

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  2. Wow! Excellent blog - as usual. I'm impressed with the way you've analyzed the situation and realized that these people do.not.define.you. You are you - and (praise the Lord) NOT them. Analyzing the situation, as you also did, I realized as you also did that you and they are of separate cultures: Canadian vs American; urban vs rural; Christian vs ... whatever. You are writing for your specific niche aka audience while this other blogger is writing for hers. My guess? She took your blog, twisted it and ran with it all the while to incite her audience and to raise her own ratings. God bless you real good. P.S. - I semi, sort of know the area you live in, where IS the closest WalMart to you?

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    1. Thanks so much, Cassie. And another big fat thank you for so publicly defending me the way you did, putting yourself at risk for the same ridicule. I can't even begin to tell you how much that meant!

      This was a hard post to write and I'll admit that I had to restart a few times because I was afraid it would bring out more cynics and that's the last thing I want to invite. Ultimately, I decided that this was part of my story and I'm here to share my story - I will just trust that people respond with kindness, or at the very least rethink their words before pressing 'publish'.

      P.S. The closest Walmart is in Hanover - that's about twenty minutes from my house. :)

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  3. Good for You. I too believe in the great good, and am still always shocked when I read the comments that people post on anything. If there isn't someone being foul and disgusting about the topic at hand, they will inevitably turn on each other and start commenting foul and disgusting things about the others leaving comments. It's ridiculous. It's childish. It's people that needed a little more time-out in their childhoods.

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    1. It's sad, isn't it?!

      It's nice to hear from you - I wondered if your little hiatus to take care of your busy life would mean you wouldn't be reading for a while. Glad to see that's not the case :)

      Blessings!

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I love comments and I appreciate, consider and read each one. I welcome your thoughts, whether you're in agreement or not; however, this website is a happy place and I will remove any comment that I believe to be inappropriate, malicious or spam like.

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