555 words on hate-blogging + bullying.

 
 

Growing up, my mom — the Jewish daughter of a World War II veteran — had a particular catchphrase that she whipped out whenever I was whining, moping, feeling annoyed at somebody I felt had wronged me, or just being downright snarly + negative.
 

“You know what? It’s not the camps.”

 

She’d say. Meaning …
 

“You know what? That minor annoyance you’re complaining about isn’t really that bad.

Unlike, say, dying in a WWII concentration camp.”

 
“It’s not the camps” would always put a cork in my negativity + shift my perspective, real quick.

In my family, it became a four-syllable shorthand for:
 

“Save your outrage for something that really matters.”

 

And thanks to my mom, it’s a four-syllable reminder that I carry with me, to this day.

Now.

Allow me to make a somewhat less-than-graceful segue into a topic that’s been burning a hole in my heart:
 

Hate-blogging, hate-gossiping and bullying — online, offline + everywhere.

 

I recently learned about an online forum that is exclusively dedicated to criticizing + bullying people who run “successful” blogs — bloggers (mostly women) that these forum participants (also mostly women) deem:

“absurd”
“boring”
“dumb”
“fake”
“frumpy”
“fugly”
“gross”
“horse-facey”
“losers”
“self-absorbed”
“a closeted chunkster”
“a histrionic bitch”
“the kind of girl who’ll have a baby to increase page views”
and “the WORST.”

These forum participants mock bloggers’ clothes, hair, weight and bodies.

They mock their ideas, creative projects, philanthropic initiatives and religious beliefs.

They mock the way they write, the photos they take, their public successes + equally public failures.

Sometimes, they even make sport of their relationships, pregnancies, births and children. Oh, and divorces.

One particularly charming forum post simply ended with: “Whatever. I hate her.”
 

It’s difficult to believe that viciously shredding apart another human being could become a favorite “hobby” or source of daily “entertainment.”

 

But apparently, for some, it is.
 

And while online bullying is certainly not “the biggest” problem in our world today, I believe that hate — in any form — is a big deal.

Hate, made acceptable within a community, is hate that can creep + grow …

 
I wonder what my personal hero, Mister Rogers — a man who dedicated his life to delivering “a daily expression of care” — would say to these people.

I wonder what Tricia Norman — the mother of a teenage girl who committed suicide after being terrorized by online bullies — would say to these people.

I know exactly what my mom would say.

And I know exactly what I want to say to these forum participants, here, today:
 

Save your outrage for something that really matters.

 

Point your considerable writing talents towards a crisis worthy of your attention.

Might I recommend: Genocide. Racism. Rape. Domestic abuse. Civil rights. Sex slavery. Contaminated water.

Or one of the myriad armed conflicts that rage on, all over the world, even as I type these words.

Save your outrage — and save your energy, your power, your capacity to enact real, meaningful change, your precious time on this planet — for something worthy of your gifts.
 

Because the world needs your best, not your worst. Your help, not your hate. Your strength, not your snark.

 

That goes for me, you, them, all of us.

And that’s all I have to say, friends.

Compassion. To the very end.
 

xo.

 
 

devotion // liberty grief // catharsis non // sequitur

Comments

AMEN. That’s all I have to say.

I see so much of this crap and I just don’t get why people don’t take all that time and use it for something worthwhile. I think sometimes that is the lie of the internet that so many people end up getting sucked into — that all of this STUFF is just so, so important and they don’t live in reality anymore. It’s easy to get sucked into it which is why I unplug a decent amount. I’ve found myself getting all in a huff about things happening in my blogging niche and I’m like WOW okay self…not important. Though I’m definitely not into hate blogging or bullying..just internal stewing…but STILL..perspective.

Wow. I had no idea such a community existed. :(

Any online bullying talk reminds me of this Louis CK interview: http://gawker.com/louis-c-k-s-explanation-of-why-he-hates-smartphones-is-1354954625

Here’s to face time (not FaceTime) and the hope that more kids (and adults) learn empathy and distress tolerance skills in 2014.

As always, you have a wonderful way with words. Bullying, whether it’s online or offline is never cool. Period. Thanks for taking a stand and offering some much needed perspective.

Wow. This is powerful. YES. This is well said and necessary. And no one could have said this as eloquently as you.

Big props to your mom – she is a wise, wise soul. You’re lucky to have her by your side. :)

Thank you for this post and for saying what needs to be said. XXOO

Amen, sista! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I am always amazed at the number of people who pour their energy into hate. It feels like such a waste of time and energy, and I definitely notice the difference in the way I feel between times when I am complaining and being negative, and being positive and making an effort to change bad circumstances. I can only imagine how those people must feel when they are pouring bile and negativity into the world. You speak truth Ms Franzen, and I thank you for speaking up.

Faith Caton-Barber on Jan 6, 2014 Reply

4 great words to blast past what’s relative in expected ways directly to perspective in meaningful ways. Wise Mom + wise you for incorporating it in your particular way. Thanks much for posting this, Alexandra.

WOW really? How sad they have nothing better to do….
Perfectly expressed as ever.
love xxx

I’ve never understood the capacity of people to be so hateful. I had a co-worker that would rather see everyone fail (even if she shared in the blame) than to contribute to the success of the team. I just don’t understand why waste so much energy on the wrong things. But I guess that’s how some people feel better about themselves which really is sad on so many levels .

AMEN! There’s enough negativity in the world, I will not contribute to it online. All that negative energy out there causing ruckus…ICK!

My grandfather used to say that too, though in slightly different words! Maybe it’s an old Jewish person thing, but he would always shake his head and say “it’s not the ghetto.”

I think if we use our anger and our righteousness and our fury upon tiny things we don’t have it handy for when the world needs justice driven by that righteous anger, and THAT is a travesty.

Kate on Jan 6, 2014 Reply

I’ve never thought of it that way, Kate, but I think you are right. Righteous fury is – in my experience – a very rare and precious compound – generated by the most profound injustice and designed to fuel the courage we need to act in the face of that injustice. Wasting it on petty jealousy is a travesty.

And Alex, you continue to rock my world. Write on, sister. xx

thanks alex, although it left me feeling sick to my stomach. i didn’t know this hate-site existed, but the IDEA of it was enough to have kept me un-expressed for too many years.

i appreciate your courage and model of compassion. may your wise, loving voice ring throughout this needy planet.

in deep appreciation,
pascale

I know precisely what forum you’re referring to & I was shocked when I cam across it last year. The comments were vicious, brutal, cruel & small. Glad to hear you speak out about it & encourage the participants to use their powers for good. Thank you. ❤

Alexandra Franzen, I love you. Thank you for putting this out there – wisely, lovingly and in your usual beautifully succinct way.

I don’t get why people need to do this either. Unfortunately I think that when people of like mind gather in groups, it can feed the emotions they’re expressing as well. That’s WHY all of the successful bloggers need to keep doing what they do – because usually they’re sharing messages that uplift, inspire and motivate in some way, and that’s why they’re successful in the first place.

Sharing this to counteract the ugliness out there in some corners of the net.
With love
Shân

Wow, sorry you had to stumble across that. I remember what a jarring experience it was for me the first time.

You’ll find my opinion on this particular site very unpopular. As a reporter who covers Internet culture, I actually sat down with the woman who runs it. Reprehensible? Perhaps. But she does it out of her own pocket because, as she told me:

“Would bloggers rather have this stuff in their comments section or on the big Internet hate site [name redacted] that nobody forces them to read? Do you think Tila Tequila just hangs out on around Perez Hilton crying about the mean things people says? No, she just ignores it. Bloggers need to do the same.”

As somebody who writes things on the Internet, I’ve dealt with my fair share of mean comments directed toward me. And to be honest, I’d rather not have them brought to my attention. This certainly is an unproductive way for people to spend their time, but I’m glad there’s a “relief valve” where people can vent instead of sending hate mail to bloggers who are, as we often forget, real people with feelings.

Lauren:

I understand your perspective, and yes, human beings DO need outlets to vent frustration, anger + other pent-up emotions.

However, I believe that we MUST find healthy outlets for our feelings — outlets that do not harm ourselves or others.

To quote Mister Rogers:

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong…
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.

For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

Ah, Mr. Rogers. We need more role models like him in the world.

Alexandra, thank you for taking the time to respond. Mr. Rogers was speaking to children, but its amazing how often we adults need to hear his words, too.

Powerful post. Thank you.

Love this, Alex. You’ve (as usual) put into words what I’ve felt for so long, especially around social media sharing. We ought to all be using our powers for good, and the sooner us adults get it, the sooner it’ll trickle down to the kiddies.

P.S. You already know this, but your mom is awesome :)

Debbie Ford said, “one finger pointing out… three fingers pointing back.” A simple analogy to see the damage you do yourself.

David on Jan 6, 2014 Reply

Yes, sad but true. Loved your final quote “…Because the world needs your best, not your worst. Your help, not your hate. Your strength, not your snark.” and posted on my social media citing your name.

There is so much of this going on, especially the snarkyness… as if sarcasm is a sign of wit and brilliance.

If each of us continues to take a stand, and cheer one another on in our achievements, maybe this type of thinking will lose its appeal and prominence.

Very well said, Alexandra. I have never understood some people’s need to be snarky. If you are so unhappy with some aspect of your life that it causes you to enjoy being mean to others then it’s time to do something to change that part of your existence. Life is short. Live it in a way that brings you happiness, joy, and enough love and laughter to share around.

A-freaking-MEN!

To use a cliche from my own childhood, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I can’t think of anything nice to say about the hatemongers, so I’m not going to say anything at all. But THANK YOU for speaking out, dear Alex!

Nice post as always!

This general topic has been coming up a lot lately, not necessarily so much with online bullying and hating, but in receiving hateful emails from people who think you’re not a person, evidently, but just a name on a banner.

It can be very upsetting to receive one these emails (even in a less hateful form). For me, it makes me feel super unsafe. :( I handle it better than I used to, and I learned to just hit the delete button in most cases and unsubscribe the person.

It’s also a good lesson in being careful what you share openly online. Pictures of your kids, info about your marriage … whatever you put out there is out there, forever.

And it’s a good lesson in remembering not to put your attention on things you don’t want more of.

Alexandra, thank you for being a model of compassion and grace.

Wendy on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

I know it’ll sound tacky to say but these haters really don’t have a life so they feel they have to trash others that go for their dream.

I’m reminded of Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly quote about bravery (an Eleanor Roosevelt quote I believe?)

““It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.”

Bullies don’t know about courage.

I love Brene Brown. Wish she as required reading for all women.

AMEN sister! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you for writing about this.

My analogy for this is: there are certain types of music I don’t care for and some artists, that as my mom would say “are not my cup of tea”. I don’t go out of my way to listen to their music and then complain about them. I don’t buy their concert tickets and will change the station if they come on the radio. But, I also don’t begrudge them their success or criticize anyone else who happens to like them. Easy…

Kathleen on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

Brava!!! Fabulous post. I hope I never stumble over this site. Just the thought makes my stomach curdle.

Sorry–website misspelled. See below.

Yes, yes, fortheloveofeverythingholy, yes.

Brene Brown, vulnerability guru, also has lots to say about bullying and those who engage.

I was bullied at work and from what I could surmise, it stemmed from jealousy, like much of the online bullying you’re referring to. It’s confusing because unlike the kid who gets pushed down on the playground, adult bullying can be less obvious, more covert and just as ugly. Further, as adults we’re expected to shrug it off or grow a thicker skin.

No can do.

Bullying in any form is an abuse of power, it’s mean, it destroys trust and can cause serious trauma. Calling it out, shining a light on it and naming it decreases the power it has and those who engage in it. Let’s keep talking about it so we can create a ripple of kindness that quashes all the ugliness.

And in the meantime, let’s teach those bullies about the camps and give them Man’s Search for Meaning to read. That’ll shut ‘em up.

Thank you for saying this so compassionately Alex. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Well said, so powerful. Thank you.

Right on target, Ms. Franzen. Your words (and Mr. Rogers) remind us that we can disagree with grace and class, meaning that civility is still important and bullying and hate-mongering are class-less.

I’m sharing this post and hope others I know will pass it on as well.

Krista O. on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

So I just recently learned this, which is perfectly in step with this beautiful blog post of yours:

Envy is when you want something someone else has. It is so truly ordinary. Most people will feel envy and think, how can I find a way to bring that into my life.

PRIMITIVE ENVY is when you want something someone else has but instead of trying to achieve/acquire it yourself, you seek to destroy it and to destroy the person who has it.

Thank you for this post. This kind of overt hate is definitely important and light needs to be shed on it. That’s one way of diminishing its power.

Love this. Love you. Love love love.

Thanks for spreading it in your own inimitable way. So grateful you are part of my world.

Several trusted advisors and colleagues of mine have always said, “There’s always enough to go around.” There’s a lot of [sense of] competition out there, among young entrepreneurs, and all kind of groups where you share something in common with someone. We have an ability to share, to collaborate, and to inspire one another, so let’s remember that – that there’s enough to go around – instead of fighting to get to the top on false, through hate, disrespect, or other dishonorable means. Lovely article – spread the word!

Yes. All of this. A thousand times all of this.

I’ve seen some pretty nasty things on the interwebs in the almost 20 years that I’ve spent online, but none so harsh as the fringes of our small community. It’s hard to believe that doing business online can get so damn snarky and hateful.

But… hate is useless. Doesn’t solve anything. It just breaks us apart in the worst ways. Like Horcruxes, man.

Can’t we all just sit down and play some video games to hash it out? I mean, that’s what I do to solve disputes. Healthier than gossipy bullshiz, that’s for sure. ;)

xo

I know exactly what site you’re talking about, and the timing is bonkers because until a couple of days ago, I had never heard of it. I’ve been obsessed with it. Horrified, but fascinated. Searching for everything that could possibly have been said about anyone whose blog I read, because I would think, surely no one could have something awful to say about HER! And a lot of the time, yup, there was the vitriol and the shaming.

It’s made me stress everything from my blog name (which fits a convention they’ve declared sooo uncreative that they refuse to read blogs with that sort of title) to my tone, my pictures, or whether to even blog at all. It’s made me feel stupid for having my hobby.

It also led me out of curiosity to a blogger who is loathed on that forum. There was a lot of hate and negativity on her blog, both from her and from commenters. All those words are so poisonous and even when I finally walked away, I felt sick. Confused at some of the degrading views of woman this blogger was promoting and confused even more at how many people thought it brilliant. Confused that people responded in anger on forums instead of in the thoughtful, intellectual way posts like yours do.

This all feels very Mean Girls. I think about the principal in that movie asking Tina Fey’s character if there was anything she could say to these girls to raise their self-esteem, and the teacher replying, “I don’t think it’s a self-esteem issue. I think they’re all pretty pleased with themselves.” Saying they just feel unhappy with themselves is too easy. There’s something else at play that makes the “snark” feel so good to them, and I don’t understand it.

Liz on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

I must admit that I went looking for this forum too after hearing about it for the first time here. Just to see, maybe, how hateful some people can be. There is something perverse about “snark” that makes me want to look at it. I think it’s the same charisma surrounding the crime genre – people are interested in extremes.

I don’t think this behavior is new in and of itself, but what is new is the speed and thoroughness with which its expression spreads and intensifies. We can now see and respond nearly instantly to any kind of expression from anyone, anywhere, but I think that this incredible scope of access does not mean we need to participate in (i.e. encourage) such exchanges. My father often quoted Will Rogers about voting, something to the effect of “don’t do it – it only encourages them”, a sentiment that applies here as well. Look, if you must, but don’t engage. Unfueled fires usually go out by themselves.

Which doesn’t mean that fire is not dangerous. Of course it must be monitored. Of course it injures those it touches. Of course there are people who set fires intentionally to hurt others or just to see what might happen (their motivation is a topic for another day – I do think that they are also wounded in some way). Hate is, unfortunately, inevitable. But awareness of those forces that oppose hate (which are, thankfully, also much more visible in the networked world) hopefully quenches it or at least limits its effects.

“You don’t get taller by stepping on other people” This is one of my favorite quotes I heard many years ago on this topic.

The best we can do is send angry people love and compassion and hope they can heal their own damaged spirits in this lifetime. That person who chooses to act out towards others with spite and venom is a wounded soul, needing some love and compassion. They are wounded children. They need hugs, not hate, but sadly they are more familiar with expressions of anger, and so they perpetuate the cycle. Sending love breaks the cycle.

AMEN!!! THIS is why I love reading your stuff! Sadly, some people build themselves up by tearing others down. What they don’t realize is that they are hurting themselves in the process. We need to focus our attention on those doing good work and leave the complainers in the dust. Rock on all you bloggers our there (me included)! We’re showing up in our own beautiful and creative ways!

Great post! I have seen these forums and I just shake my head. I don’t understand WHY some people would DO that. It’s horribly judgmental and I guess perhaps that’s the only outlet where they can rant or let out.

Still.

Here’s YES to making the internet a better place!

Yes!! Even vague Facebook posts that are hatefully directed at someone. If they know it’s about them, it’s bullying. Nothing is private online. People will find out. Sadly, even the kindest or best have hurt someone with their words. Online bullying is happening to grown ups. But, often people turn a blind eye because the offender has such a great reputation. It’s soul crushing to be the victim and have no voice. Trust me.

Trisha on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

Wow. Thank you SO much for this.

Absolutely !!

Beautifully said, Alexandra. Bullying of any kind is never ok, or a necessary “release”. It may never go away, but there is no need to encourage it or try create platforms where it bloats like yeast on sugar. Thank you for yout honesty, integrity and boldness to call it as it is!

You know what, I discovered that particular corner of the web & while I’m not about to get all go-team-go on their approach it made me look at my own behaviour.

And unsubscribe from blogs that I kept reading even though they made me angry/resentful (for different reasons) because, while I’m not spewing vitriol on the internet, I was ingesting my own poison & I want no part of that.

So if nothing else at least places like this give us a chance to hold up a mirror & decide if we like what we see.

Well said! Quite simply… if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. But as you say, if only people put such energy and enthusiasm into the right places in this world – oh how we would all thrive!

Beautifully expressed, as always, Alexandra. Hate speech is so insidious… I agree wholeheartedly that the creative energy of one who berates another human being could be fuelled to campaign greater against bigger social problems. Love your words + wisdom.

Thank you for tastefully pointing out to these forum participants that their negativity is hurting (not helping) our world.

I wish for them that they could learn to feel the good feeling which Mr. Rogers spoke about.

I wish for them that, they could, as Mr. Rogers said,

“Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.”

I have never understood how people can be so cruel. In my opinion, this is part of why our world is such a mess today…so little compassion, empathy, kindness or sympathy and way too much hate and meanness. A good friend of mine just passed away after shooting a football game (he was an AP photographer) and when I read a story about it on Yahoo, you would not have believed some of the disgusting remarks about the story. He was 59 and one person said…”You sure you didn’t mean 95?” because he did look older than his age. Another made a fuss about a story being done on someone who was not famous or important. I was saddened and repulsed by such reactions and from people who I’m sure didn’t know him at all.
Thank you for bringing up this topic. We all need to be kind and caring. Frankly, with the way things are going, it may be the only way we will all survive this crazy world.

Kudos to you Alex, for saying it like it is!

I’m totally with you there. On all accounts. Sadly the hate-propaganda is everywhere… on TV, on social media, in forums…

Sheila has a point. The world is fucked up and it’s up to people like us who care for, love, and RESPECT each other to bring it back into balance.

Well done for blasting ripples of love into the community. The world needs more Alexandra’s. I love your family’s statement too by the way. So powerful + humbling. xx

I was curious so I looked up these forums. What I found was a bunch of garbage. I hope you didn’t take any of that nonsense to heart because all that is SO beneath you. Those forums add zilch to the world — while what you do makes a difference to people (and you do it in your own unique style, which not everyone has to love). If they want to waste their life-energy being jealously obsessed, so be it. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

Great post, dear Alexandra. I’m impressed. And I agree: you have a pretty positive internet home here that I love to visit.

Barbara

Thank you Alex, you are such a lovely voice of truth and love ringing out in this world. I’m with you, let’s share our best with the world!

Casey Erin Wood on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

Totally agree. I see it even on a more deeper level though. These people are obviously hurting. They have HUGE shame issues. They don’t value their worth and so they project it out into the world, in harmful ways.

This is the risk of shaming our kids. The messages we get as children and then either learn from, or pass onto our own kids (this is the premise of the work I do with people, mostly parents). The more shamed you are, the more at risk you are for: addiction, suicide, depression…

A high amount, around 80-90% of illnesses stem from emotions (Lissa Rankin- Mind Over Medicine).

So although it’s not easy. Sending these people love is what they need. Among a heck of alot of soul searching.

And I might add, if it strikes a chord, what about it do you dislike in yourself (coming from a place of love). That you’re not accepting. So hard to admit. But usually when something pushes our buttons (which we all have something), it’s a place that needs healing.

xo

Very well said. I didn’t know that such a forum existed and am saddened that some feel the need to tear down others. My mama always said, “if you don’t have anything nice to say then say nothing at all.” That saying has served me well. I will do my best to not add to the hatred of this world. I want to be a beacon of light and love that encourages others and teaches them how to let their light shine. There is room for everyone who wants to shine. It will only make the world brighter and I just don’t think it can get too bright or good. You have been a beacon of light Alexandra and for that I am thankful. The world is a brighter place because of you. I am looking forward to your email class by the way. Blessings to you in every part of your life.

These types of sites (and forums) are more prevalent than one might think. To me it seems little different than some of the “popular” magazines and tv shows – US, People, TMZ. Nothing but gossip and mostly hating on people, demoralizing their clothing and food choices, and waiting for them to stumble and fall.

I think that people that do this are ridiculous. It seems that they are just jealous of what others have accomplished. It is unfortunate in this time and space that there are still people like this in the world. … but I know that there are. I myself am starting a business and find that when I talk about things to some in regards to this business or ideas that I have that I think will be great… I hear snarly-talk. I try to ignore it and move on, choosing to make me a stronger, more well-rounded person, but the words still hurt sometimes.
I applaud you, Alexandra. I found your website and blog a few months ago, and I have to say I am very impressed with your wisdom and words. It is very inspiring. I am sure that you hear that all the time. But it has really made me form my master plan in life and I read your blog/email insights daily.
Thank you for all you do. May you live to be 1000 years old <3

Daphne on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

I echo all the ‘Amens!’ and offer a heartfelt gasp at the darkness of our collective appetites that feed on the garbage of the Internet, thereby sustaining the demand for evil. Thank you, Alexandra, for shining light on and offline.

Kindness, regardless. Life’s too short…

Excellent post.

I guess I never understand why people don’t just unsubscribe if they think these blogs are soooo bad. It always seems to be the same trolls over and over again talking about how horrible a blog is and I think “why read?”

So glad you wrote this. There will always be unhappy, jealous people out there. All we can do is follow our hearts and read the bloggers we care about and make loving comments.

Cathe Ekas on Jan 7, 2014 Reply

AMEN. And thank you. Over and over again.

I was bullied in middle school. Relentlessly made fun of for my looks and fashion sense. My opinions were challenging to the status quo. My creative expression seemed to elicit lovers and haters alike. Who knew I would encounter the same kind of insults in an online forum of women hating on other women at 30+ years old.

My mom helped me cope back then by telling me to have compassion for the bullies. That there mothers don’t love them enough. That they’re just jealous. Or simply afraid. And she’s right.

Finally, it’s just about not taking it personal. When I can get past my own ego and hurt feelings it says a lot more about them, their insecurities, and their own needs not being met than it does about me and the content I put out there.

Your succinct and kind 555 words capture exactly the spirit of what I attempt to share when I do Empathy in the Digital World workshops with middle schoolers (and their parents and teachers.) We all have to break out of our keyboard mind to really think about how what we put out there will affect others. In this case, this hateful gossip just makes the haters seem small-minded. It also ties up their minds in knots of negativity. Thanks for the reminder that there are way bigger problems to solve in this world!

Thank you. I’ll share your words. Agree with you 100%.

AMEN! I can’t add anything to this.

Leonie Dawson gave the advice that to create something compelling, you gotta make yourself cry. We’ll babycakes, it was pretty damn close after I read this. Blessings to you. Keep doing what you do.

Thank you for writing this! I often think this, but don’t have the elegance to say anything about it.

Well done

Gorgeous. Compassionate. Eye-opening. Love you.

Just like our reality TV/Jerry Springer/Celebrity Divorce-obsessed culture, this blog sounds like it’s all about pitting people against each other. Polarizing sides. Creating conflict. Exhibiting bad behavior and hate.

Yes, it’s from jealousy. Or a power trip. Or even just a need to get a laugh or attention. Whatever. It all adds up to “I feel sorry for you haters, to see the world this way. You don’t like it? TURN. IT, OFF (like I do with reality TV!).”

This post and all the comments gives me hope once again that I can’t let that get me down – for the sake of my soon-to-be-born son. I plan to show him art and beauty and love and blogs (and women) like this so he sees examples of good, not hate. It’s too easy to forget that the haters are the outliers, not the norm sometimes.

Thanks for the reminder, Alex! And thanks to ALL your Commenters for making my day xoxo

Wonderful post and you always have beautiful insight. It reminded me of a great quote from Brene Brown: “Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”

They are usually coming from fear and insecurity. One day, we hope they emerge. Nicely done!

Thank you for writing this. I think that people tend to think that theirvwords don’t hur, that it is harmless offgassing. Do people get to be anonymous on that site? I have never heard of it.I was once flamed for a newspaper article and I told the guy that I could pnly take his comment seriously if he put his name to it. He refused to do so. If someone has a criticism, they should be Willing to stand by it.

I used to work in a place that had a lot of negative gossip and co-workers who would repeat hurtful or divisive comments purely to create trouble. Now I’m all for corrective feedback, but this was just indirect bullying and so I learned to say “That would really hurt me if I valued their opinion on this. I’m sorry they feel that way. Please don’t tell me if they say anything else, as I would like to keep my repect for them as colleagues.”

Jacqui on Jan 8, 2014 Reply

I really hope the ‘nasties’ read this and learn something from it. I bet they aren’t like that to people face to face so why so vicious online. I hope this cyber hating comes to an end soon, it makes me sad.

I had never heard of such sites, but the sad thing is it doesn’t surprise me. It’s so easy to get into negative talk and gossiping and bullying. It’s just as easy to ignore it. We see trollers everywhere now. It has become this acceptable form of non-debate.

If we ever want to change our surroundings, our communities and our world we need to put an end to it. And put a little more hope, community, and respect back into the world.

Sharing this widely. Thank you Alexandra!

Your post is my first news of this forum and I was just floored reading that this place exists. Women hiding behind anonymous names are tearing down other women, for the crime of having a successful blog?! So many bloggers that I admire are getting hated on.

Last night, I kept thinking of how we should try to shut this forum down…. this morning I see that this forum is a reflection of the times we live in, when gossiping and being cruel towards others is the norm. This attitude exists everywhere. All I can do is work towards a kinder world where we see the divine in every other person and recognize that even though they are not perfect, they are still worthy of love and respect.

Alexandra, thanks for writing these post with such grace. It’s incredibly well put.

kathleen rose on Jan 8, 2014 Reply

I can’t even believe that something like this exists. A dedicated forum for haters? I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I am – shocked.

“It’s not the camps” might just be taking up residence in my vocab – many thanks to your mom for that one. And to you for speaking with such honesty, truth and coming from a place of love, as always. xo

Thank you for writing this, Alex. I’ve not heard of this corner of the interwebs and I don’t intend to look it up, but I admire and support you in making a public stand for compassion, transparency, and integrity through-and-through. It makes me sad to think that people delight in putting energy into tearing others down. I stand with you in saving our outrage and righteous indignation for something that really matters.

I agree that bullying is down right nasty and not neccessary, but I would like to point out that some of the bloggers themselves cause people to want to behave like that. I know of many bloggers who have used their ‘power’ to stop other blogs coming up, blacklisted companies, and so forth.

Sorry but some of them really have it coming for them, scamming people, etc. Going at them for the very reason they are successful, or have a child well thats wrong. But I am sorry there are certain bloggers out there who are just as bad or worse.

Having a snark on the internet is one thing, trying to ruin someones business? which is what certain bloggers have been doing, well thats taking it a step too far.

Casey on Jan 9, 2014 Reply

You know what? At least some snark forums arn’t the camps.

Janet on Jan 10, 2014 Reply

Janet:

That is absolutely true.

Which is why in my post, I felt compelled to say …

“And while online bullying is certainly not “the biggest” problem in our world today, I believe that hate — in any form — is a big deal.

Hate, made acceptable within a community, is hate that can creep + grow …”

Snarky forums — and other forms of cyber-bullying — are not “the biggest” problems in our world today. No question about that.

But they’re indicative of a particular mindset that I find deeply troubling. And I believe they’re far more harmful that we might realize.

So, no: forums full of mean-spirited comments are not “the camps.” Of course not.

But as humans? I know that we can treat each other better.

And even in those instances when we’re angry, or frustrated, or feel that somebody has wronged us, or have genuine criticism to convey — we always have the option to communicate in a way that’s civil + humane.

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 10, 2014 Reply

Definitely agreed on that!

Janet on Jan 10, 2014 Reply

I am glad we are agreed. :)

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 10, 2014 Reply

This is addressed both at the article and some comments.
The level of unjustified snark varies among threads. Sometimes it is extreme and rude, but:
1. owning a blog means you put your self out there for people to criticize
2. some bloggers make large $$ so it is a business, not a personal blog
3. I agree that it is better than commenting rude stuff or sending personal hate messages.
4. claiming that snarkers are all people that have no life is ridiculous. do not generalize. sometimes they have valid arguments that are helpful i.e. avoiding spending $$$ on worthless e courses etc.

The internet is a free place. As long as crazy fundies/annoying hipsters/obsessed anorexic chicks can storm the blogging world/IG and other platforms, forums like this one may also have all the freedom to criticize. Those that do not like it can stay out of it.

As with everything in life some people over-do it. In forums this is inevitable. If someone has a thick skin and can keep in mind that there are idiots out there and that you can’t please everyone, they may find useful tips in that forum and evolve or rectify bad blogging behaviors.
Otherwise they should not read it, and avoid getting upset.

lan on Jan 10, 2014 Reply

Lan:

The Internet is a free place, indeed. It’s one of the best things about it.

You believe (as many do, and as I do, too) that readers + customers have a right to express criticism — such as honest and helpful reviews that protect others from being duped or abused.

I agree with you, and in writing this post …

I wasn’t speaking out against people who are posting honest and helpful reviews, designed to protect others. (Which is obviously not “bullying.”)

I was speaking out against people who post irrationally cruel + mean-spirited reviews, as well as people who viciously tear others apart — for sport, for fun — not for any morally reprehensible behavior, but for the “crime” of having a haircut that somebody deems “fucking ugly,” or eyes that somebody deems “droopy,” or a face that somebody deems “horsey,” or a home that somebody deems to look like “shit” or “vomit,” or for simply having the audacity to stand outside in a “stupidly awkward pose.” (Which I believe is hateful + harmful, and helpful to no one.)

It’s an important distinction — one that I could probably have made clearer in my post, and one that I intend to address in a future one.

But for now, simply put:

: Thoughtful criticism designed to protect the innocent? Bring it on.

: Vicious snarking for pure entertainment? We can do better.

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 10, 2014 Reply

I think you made yourself perfectly understood. You were clear. But I would love to read more from you about this and anything else, ever.

Liz on Jan 11, 2014 Reply

Oh Alex, again you demonstrate your genius and grace. Perfect!
I always feel like a little better person when I read your simple but powerful words of wisdom. It and you make a difference, and always in such a loving way.
You’re a rockstar with your own shining light!

Thankyouthankyou

xxoo….Tracy…rockhope!

If I may be so bold as to disagree on one fine point…

I’ve spent a considerable portion of my life in the “Genocide. Racism. Rape. Domestic abuse. Civil rights. Sex slavery. Contaminated water.” etc camp. And I can categorically say:

This type of energy is what mucks up the wheels. Nothing actually gets done because of these pent up feelings lurking at the back of people’s hearts.

I believe people have to work with their issues and their pain. Because hating bloggers is no different from hating people who are fighting racism. But people engage in both out of pain.
And it’s bad for everyone.

Thank you for addressing hate with such love and wisdom. Life’s too short for that kind of negativity and hatred.

Hello,
I know of and respect your work.
I’m concerned that your perspective of this website is skewed. Your examples of the invasion of ones personal life (Tricia Norman’s daughter) and genocide (the camps comment) is a hyperbolic contrast to the critique – correct or incorrect – of public figures.
I am not defending everything said on the website. I am defending a forum that takes a critical view of public figures and what they put forward.

We all have a right to privacy and the securities of privacy but
When ones life is auto-publicized those aspects become a matter of public discussion by definition.

Uncriticized public opinion is antithetical to rational discourse which is how we grow as individuals and a community.

I appreciate your tacit agreement with this sentiment which you show by keeping comments open and I invite you to participate in other forums that take a critical look at public figures and what they say.

This is a really interesting discussion.

When I first discovered the website that I think you’re talking about I was, surprisingly, relieved.

I’m not into bashing people for what they look like, or stuff like that, but I was incredibly grateful to find threads about online business people and to get non-affiliate reviews of their products.

In fact, I wish I’d found the site before I spent a load of money on a course that wasn’t useful, but was reviewed by the people on said site.

I think the thing with blogging, is obviously everyone wants to have 100s of positive comments, but I feel like we’re losing the ability to discuss disagreement in positive way.

Seems to me that if you post something ‘negative’ on an article, you automatically become a hater, or a bad person. And that this has led to limited discussions and a need for the site you’re speaking about.

Or, some bloggers don’t have the option to comment, which means that you don’t have a way to talk to them, and they become ‘untouchable’.

I also think that whenever you put something out there, it will be criticized. That’s the way it works. Some people will love it and heap praise upon you, and other people won’t like it.

It happens to everyone; artists, actors, singers, writers, chefs, business people.

I know that when I’ve written articles online some people have loved them, and other people haven’t. In fact, some of the criticism I received was useful, and made me think.

I think what you’re talking about is bigger than a site, and that’s it’s simplistic to say that the site is just about slagging people off.

It’s about how we communicate, and how we handle criticism. It’s about the uncharted territory of the internet. It’s about having access to information (in the cases of people who sell things online)

Jade on Jan 12, 2014 Reply

Amen, sister. Preach it. You nailed it. I worry for the kids growing up in with this type of disconnected communication. It’s important for folks like you to shine a light and call people out. Keep up the beautiful, non-boring, non-hateful, non-horsey faced work! x

Hey Fabulous Alexandra and all those reading this… I just watched this video and was reminded of this post. I think you’ll appreciate the message.

and, thanks for you.

Leave a Comment