Thursday, 7 November 2013
#NaBloPoMo November 7th: Social Media Trollhunters
I wasn't going to use today's prompt, about how much you share on social media, but I decided to share an experience that completely rocked me last week!
I've always considered myself a very positive and happy person, which translates to my blog, I love writing Life is Peachy and I'm particularly proud of my latest project; The Frugally Fabulous Year. But, last Monday, I was the victim of my first trolling incident.
Having had some amazing responses about my new project, in which I have resolved to stop buying clothes from high street stores for one year for both financial AND ethical reasons, I sought out some other sharing sites to really hone my message to the 'masses'. I've had some lovely feedback from fellow bloggers and followers, even people who want to join in themselves. Raising awareness of ethical shopping is something I feel very strongly about, it wasn't easy to write a rounded, consistent, non-ranty post that stated my reasons behind setting up the challenge, but I was pleased with the outcome and, as any blogger knows, the comments and reactions were even better!
To try and further my reach with The Frugally Fabulous Year, I decided to share the link on Reddit; a site that allows you to share posts and articles. Having not shared anything on this site before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's safe to say I got much more than I bargained for!
Within one hour of posting my blog post I was surprised to check my stats, to see that I had already received lots of referrals from Reddit. Even better than that, when I signed in to the site, I had 3 comments waiting for me! Sadly, unlike the positive and empowering comments I have been used to from my lovely readers; these were nasty, belittling and picked apart just about every aspect of my project.
I was accused of being pointless, endlessly ranting about sweatshops, didn't understand the meaning of the word 'frugal' and had not considered that not buying from high street stores would have the same impact as buying from them (say, what?). In hindsight, I think it was highly unlikely that these people had even read the post further than the first paragraph. I responded to the two culprits in a polite manner, but was met with belittling replies, simply suggesting that, as middle aged men, they were over the 'fashion phase' and didn't need to prove a point like I seemed to. These trollers had entirely missed the point of my post. Not only that, why were two middle-aged keyboard warriors so concerned with my new project, if it weren't something they were interested in?
The thing I was most angry with, was how I had allowed these thoughtless men to make me feel. I lost a lot of confidence in what I had written and how I felt about my work AND it was instilled by two people who were not regular readers or even in my supposed target audience. I would never choose to write mindless comments on a blog or article that didn't interest me; I think it is unproductive to fill someone else's blog with negativity, even if you don't share their opinion. I'm all for freedom of speech, found in the brilliance of blogging, of all places, but petty comments do nothing to help or encourage someone, who puts their heart into their writing and, in my case, simply wants to raise awareness, create interesting and inspiring posts and learn something along the way.
Thank God for wonderful friends and followers is all I can really say - not one to want to put a dampener on anyone's day, I took my frustration out on Twitter - only to be met with some lovely and encouraging messages.
The more I delved into it, the more I found that there seems to be a lot of hatred for bloggers right now - we have to stick together. Bloggers are, as Martha Stewart reportedly said last week, often uneducated in what they are writing about. But, we are so much more than that - we have the freedom to write what we want, when we want, members of society who can help, encourage or just share an articulated opinion.
I guess I've learnt, from this rather painful experience that trolling is, sadly, part and parcel of one's decision to blog. It shouldn't be, I still think my project is a good idea, I still think I've thought about it and produced a well-rounded reason for wanting to raise this awareness and I very much doubt that this will be the last time I'm on the receiving end of something like this. Slowly, but surely, my confidence is coming back, I even look at it as a test for later, something to toughen me up when I'm putting my novel out there!
I suppose as the lovely Dita Von Teese once said, 'you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will still be someone who doesn't like peaches.' Never has this made more sense to me than now - and I'm determined to carry on with my Peachy Life, leaving the trolls where they belong - lost under a bridge!