Whether you put yourself out there or not, keyboard warriors (KW) are everywhere, *cautiously looks over shoulder*. It could even be a friend or family member in your life that likes to feel like they’re giving you some “truths” or advice that may sound rather harsh. Then, there are outright bullies. As a blogger and someone who has just been recently published on Mamamia (yes, I’ll sweep up that name later), I can sometimes get “mixed signal comments”, but so far I’m lucky in the sense I’ve not had anything purposefully hurtful said to me. Or at least, not that I’m aware of!
NON-ADULT HUMAN MALE?
For example, I once received a comment which questioned why I insisted on calling Little Man “Little Man”. The commenter asked if I had a daughter would I call her “Little Woman”? I actually managed to overlook the sniping almost immediately and was thoroughly overjoyed that she had called me a writer! You know you’ve made it when you get your first trolling.
Anyway, it didn’t really bother me because she clearly had not read anything more than that one article, otherwise she would know I have two daughters. She had also obviously taken the nickname we have given our son out of context. I wasn’t calling him a “little man” as in grown man in adult form but tiny by comparison to normal standards. Nor was I implying that he was older than his current age of five. It’s purely a nickname sweetheart, for privacy and all that jazz.
I did briefly contemplate changing his handle to “non-adult human male” but it didn’t seem to have the same ring to it.
YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE
Ain’t that the truth!
In this particular article, I mention how some people may be in disbelief that I’m chatting to my son about consent. I added that sentence purely to lead on as to why I was having that conversation with him. I was also actually trying to avoid negativity by acknowledging the potential shock or confusion some people may have felt.
Alas, a KW had to question why I even said that line.
So, whether you mention something or not, you’ll never please everyone. If you’re putting yourself out there, you have to appreciate and ultimately be okay with that.
THE THING ABOUT THE INTERNETS
The thing about the world wide web, is that it can give anyone a voice. Even people that should probably pipe down. And no, I don’t sit on my ivory tower trying to exclude myself from that statement. I mean, I call myself a writer but really I’m just someone who has access to the internet. I know what I am, and I’m okay with that.
I’m not someone who feels the need to incessantly comment on random blog posts or links shared on social media. I never feel that I have to openly criticize someone online. If I don’t like what I’m reading or seeing then I just scroll on. Even with bloggers I follow. There are articles I really love, then there are some that aren’t really relevant to me. That’s fine. I take what I need and I move on.
BOUNDARIES IN LIFE + ONLINE
I’m sensitive, people. The ending of Toy Story 3 gets me. every. single. time. Plus, y’know, I also currently have mental health issues. Combining those two together means that on paper, I’m probably not the best person to put myself out there. BUT, what I’ve learnt is to have really strong boundaries. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if you’re sensitive or like the Tin Man, in today’s world, you will still need boundaries as part of your basic defenses.
Honestly, it took me a while to have strength about the fact that someone could attack my appearance or what I write about. I’m fairly certain it was Amber, a writer I’ve been following for years, who said that you, as a blogger, are entertainment. Which is the absolute truth. Hearing that kind of shifted things in my mind of how I’m viewed. Maybe even to some, from behind their screen, I’m not even a real person with real feelings.
On a personal level, I don’t share anything on my social media that I’m not okay being made public. Call me a skeptic but I just don’t believe any account is truly private. I kind of started my blog for that reason, I figured if I’m not okay with everyone seeing it then I shouldn’t post about it at all.
I think online safety is an absolute must for everybody. There is the technical side of checking your settings are private and that your password is a good’un and kept secret. Then there is the human side of interacting, like simply being kind. I mean, isn’t that something we should all be doing regardless of where and how we’re interacting?
EVEN JOE BLOGGS ISN’T SAFE
Pardon the pun but it really isn’t just bloggers, celebrities or any public figure who needs boundaries. If you share ANYTHING online you are opening yourself up to be critiqued, commented on or even bullied. Swearing off social media isn’t really the answer either because, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know someone in nearly every household that has some kind of camera phone. Photos of innocent people can be snapped, memes made and completely random, unfair and, perhaps most importantly, unauthorised content go viral.
Take the appalling story of how model Dani Mathers invaded another gym goer’s privacy as a prime example. The somewhat good outcome of this, was the public outcry and subsequent legal action it created. Unfortunately this is not the only story of this nature. (I’m not saying boundaries would ever be enough to comfort the innocent person that was snapped unawares because, quite frankly, what an awful thing to have happen to you). Scarily, it’s just another reminder of the times of mass oversharing and commenting without consequence that we are living in.
WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
If a single, adult KW can either knowingly or unwittingly cause damage to someones day, then think about what our children can do. Hurtful words, threats and mob mentality are dangerously easier to put out there without direct and immediate consequence. I’m not sure if this is the case, but I get the impression that kids would be pretty secretive about it all too. Whereas an adult is maybe more likely to confront the situation in some way.
When I was at school, I was bullied. Without now feeling the need to put a brave front on, I can own the fact that I was absolutely terrified at points throughout the day. I dreaded some classes because I knew I’d get comments or physical attacks. It was horrible, but at least I was safe when I wasn’t in proximity to my bully. On the walks to and from school with my friends I could laugh. When I got home, she couldn’t reach me. At the weekends I could relax.
I would be heartbroken if any of my children got bullied. Equally, I would be mortified if my children became bullies. Bullying is so wrong and trust me when I say, it can have life-long effects. But I fear that unless robust laws are instilled around online use and privacy, then it doesn’t matter how thick our skin is. Because, ultimately, the world is full of different kinds of folks. There are ones that use social media for genuine connections and lightheartedness, then there are ones that innocently post without thinking of the potential outcome. Unfortunately, even the most harmful, uncaring and down right evil can have access to the internet.
My advice would always be to seriously think before you post anything online. A close second would be, do you even need to share it? Pausing before you press that send button is just a modern version of the saying “think before you speak”.