Let’s Talk About Bullies

As a writer who shares everything for free, online exposure is my main resource to find readers. And while being online does that, it also comes with a few downsides.

One aspect of that is reader dramatics: bullies and haters.

Why am I talking about this? Because you can’t please everyone. I aim to give people a little slice of life, but as much as I try to provide a wide range of topics, it happens.

What is a reader bully? These are the ones hiding behind their screens. These people are one or any combination of the following: they’re jealous at (or threatened by) what you do because they can’t, some memory or event was spawned by your words and they lash out, or they’re repulsed at your thinking, beliefs, or life choices and feel they must set you straight.

Extreme examples exist, but the ones I’ve faced tend to jab a little, hoping to stir some response. Then they pounce. Engaging them leads to insults with no basis in truth or reality. Unfortunately, they also know how to hurt you the most. At the first sign of trouble, whether they’re attacking me or a friend, I block them. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

Haters aren’t much different from a bully, but they might approach things in a different way. Some are vindictive, but others express their dislike. If they’re civil, I’ll draw the line by thanking them for giving my words a chance and for sharing their honesty. It still stings, though.

For me, this group hasn’t yet ventured too far beyond social media into WordPress. I’m hopeful this will continue to be a positive and welcoming space.

So, tell me, what’s your experience in dealing with this?

Next time, I’m going to discuss peer dramatics — writers that take an offensive.

Β© Sarah Doughty

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146 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Bullies

  1. My following is not large enough, yet, for the bullies and haters. I’m not sure how I would react. I like constructive criticism, but haters and criticism are completely separate things. I thought about expanded my media presence to twitter, but I don’t feel like inviting hate. I guess, I’ll just get good at blocking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen this mainly on twitter, it’s one of the main reasons I’ve all but stoppped using it
    Personally if I don’t like something I read, I don’t go and bash the author with a mean review
    Hopefully this place will remain drama free
    ❀❀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My 28 year old daughter was crying her eyes out Tuesday, nasty things some people in their late 20’s were saying about her on Facebook. It was so bad my daughter wanted to see a doctor. I told my daughter she doesn’t need to see a doctor and that the bully’s need to get a life. I suggested to my daughter leave Facebook for a few months and also that the police could be called for bullying online.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, when someone (or several people) are targeting one person, the police and I believe the FBI can be contacted to stop it. I’m so sorry to hear about what happened. No one deserves that kind of treatment. Facebook, I’ve heard, has the most amount of trouble with bullies. I’d suggest she leaves for a time as well.

      Like

  4. Interesting thread. I’ve not experienced anything I’d call bullying, and certainly not hating! I’ve had fallings out on other platforms from time to time – but not that I could categorise as right or wrong, merely disagreements over what is preferred. I do have writing buddies who will tell me when something I’ve written hasn’t done what they think it was trying to do (and mostly they’ve been right!). Disagreement without disrespect is helpful, if only to sharpen our own reasoning, but changing your mind can be helpful too, even when it’s a result of someone else’s opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Constructive criticism and tearing something down are two very different ends of the spectrum. I welcome comments from people who have thoughts about what I’ve shared, and sometimes, I find that I learned a valuable lesson from them. On the other hand, sometimes my reasoning behind my choices gives them a lesson in return. Most of the issues I’ve experienced have taken place on social media, not so much WordPress.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. off the top of my head I’ve faced negative replies 3 times that i remember ~ and made friends. it took a lot of thought, humility, and humor. I’m fond of these people now. i employed the spam button on one of them in a combo with the other three tools. i think i learned a certain sense of diplomacy in a debate class i took in the local community college ~ which taught me to “teach” without a “bulldozer.” At any rate, your experiences might be more harsh than mine have been & these so-called guidelines of mine might very well be useless in many instances. Just trying to be helpful. You’re poetry excels at a high altitude & you shouldn’t have to put up with bullies. Keep a thick skin & when bullets fly, of course, duck!

    Liked by 1 person

      • i also recall once being a bully. i visited the blog to do some serious groveling ~ but when i got there she was trilling so unaware of anything that i shot her down like i was a 13 year old with a 22 rifle and she was a bird on a line above my head. its a major regret in my life. i’ve written many a lyric to make up for it but the damage is done. she got over it in a heroic manner but it’s me now out on a limb. her too actually. we communicate very indirectly now if you even want to call it that. you really gotta watch what you say on these blogs. you don’t want to alienate those you care about most ~ for sure!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sarah, I have experienced several very painful experiences on my blog. I wasn’t prepared for them and the first time was only around a month after starting my blog, I was ready to stop. It has been very painful and difficult. And sometimes hard to continue. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am very sorry this has happened to you. You are not alone! And I am sure your blog post will help many others to not feel so alone!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thankfully I have never experienced this type of behavior, but I’ve witnessed true ugliness on Facebook the past couple weeks. I’m talking MAJOR craziness involving authors and bloggers. It really put me off FB. Great post, Sarah! Very thought provoking πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I haven’t really experienced bullies online. Haters, yes. Although I tend to just laugh at them because, especially on Tumblr, there are hate blogs designed to just hate and I don’t get how people can live with hating others and what they post, some of it incredibly personal. WordPress seems to be the better, and safer, place to be regarding the bullies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you there. While I had a Tumblr account, it was mainly just sharing posts from WordPress, and I barely used it. Somewhere along the way, messages were sent by another user praising my writing, but then as time went by she became bitter at my lack of response,simply because i didn’t know those messages existed. Her parting words were scathing to the point of accusing me of plagiarism. As a writer that spent countless hours developing my stories, it hurt. But I knew she was just upset. Afterwards, I closed the account because nothing was benefitted from it. And unfortunately, I’ve seen those hate accounts before. I don’t know why people feel the need to do those things, but they do.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. wordpress is one of the last creative paradises left where you’re welcomed to be creative and encouraged to keep going. every like every comment every new follower pushes you and makes you accountable. I’ve found that coversationally through comments you end up being inspired and learning what your audience likes the most. By reading other blogs and embracing other writers you learn how to write to your own talents and through consistency and practice you become better at what you do. Practice makes perfect but it takes support to get there. many people are shy to let their work be seen by their close friends and family but end up making friends and family out of the people they interact with on wordpress. It’s a gorgeous world thus far untainted by thr cruelty of haters.

    I for one have only experienced it with face to face interaction. In one case my closest friend at the time made me feel inadequate and untalented in the dismissal of a poem I was writing. one of my first fully formed pieces, the first time I’d ever been brave enough to let people see my work. It left a sour taste and I’ve never shown that poem since. Me and that friend parted ways months later for other reasons but i know these people still exist. I feel far safer to grow whatever talents I have here.

    Much like yourself it’s easy to block out this negativity. it’s the main reason I killed my Facebook. When real life throws negativity in unexpected ways you don’t need it in your creative world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sorry that happened to you. Some people just don’t understand poetry. My husband is one of them, but he still encourages me to keep going. I do remember at one point he inadvertently said something negative about the model that represents the hero in my novels. It hurt, and I stayed quiet about it, but his words were like a slap to the face, and I began to question if I chose the right person. Ultimately it didn’t matter because I stayed true to what I originally envisioned, and now such a comment wouldn’t bother me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Part of me is happy it happened. It’s good to learn who is your friend and who supports you. they don’t have to be a fan just someone who is there. I’ve been through plenty of people who think what I do is foolish so they’re no longer in my life.

        It’s silly how those throw away comments sting. They’re never meant as unkind but they always linger. I’m glad you stayed true to yourself and your vision. At the end of the day you’re creating for yourself. If you enjoy it then someone else will.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, exactly. Unfortunately not many people in my family (or even the people I once called close friends in high school) read my words. My husband reads my books, but admits the content isn’t his favorite. He prefers science fiction over urban fantasy, but he still is able to tell me what he thinks could be improved upon. Other than him, my father-in-law reads my books as soon as they’re released and sometimes will talk to me about them afterwards (which is huge for an over-the-hill male reading urban fantasy romance. Then there’s my mother, that reads in the beta stage and (not so) surprisingly finds nothing wrong with them. Pretty much, unless people are reading in secret, no one else has read my books. A few may read a poem from time to time, but that’s about it. I guess that’s how life goes, we can surround ourselves with the best supporters, fangirls and boys, and even friends. Which just goes to show that not everyone physically in your life is going to be the most rewarding.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My family have only seen little bits of poetry I’ve done from birthdays. I gave my gran a piece I write for Christmas and she adores. On the whole it’d just something they know I do and assume it’s more a hobby.

        Everyone in life has their own inspirational qualities and to make something from it is always rewarding. I still say as long as you’re doing it for you the haters won’t have any powers

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I am sorry you have had to experience this Sarah, but unfortunately it is one of the downsides to social media. One of the reasons I came to WordPress was because of the inclusiveness of the community and this has remained and become more supportive as time has gone on. On other social media platforms I find I can sometimes use others negativity and turn it back on them. Maybe a solution is to highlight the abuse and platform used to your followers and allow them the opportunity to support you against the bully.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You already know my experiences with bullies and other writers online. Thankfully, after I left “that” website, I haven’t had to deal with it since. I just hope the WordPress community stays the same. We don’t need hate and drama up in here =)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ive been called a two bit hack just because I didn’t go full fan boy over Stephen King’s latest novel via my wordpress blog. And had threats made to my own life. I tend to block and not engage bullies/haters too.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am pleased to hear none of the bullies have made their way to your WordPress page. It seems you have a good plan for dealing with them on other platforms. I will never understand random cruelty or the need to bring someone down just to bring them down. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow, I can so relate to this! Sometimes religious people want to set us straight. I’m nice to a point and then stop them. I delete their comments only if I have to. And you can tell when they start picking little fights that it will lead to greater conflict so I like your idea of early blocking. Mostly though after i start shutting them down people just disappear, never to be heard of again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, sometimes people are a little over-zealous with their ideologies, but I don’t typically shut them down unless they try to shovel it down my throat. Mostly they say their peace and they’re done, in which case I thank them for their kindness and move on.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I have been blown away with my experience on WordPress so far. I am so glad my sister pushed me hard to come here. She kept telling me that what I was doing on Facebook belonged here and I’ve since discovered that she’s right. I’ve slowly stopped logging into Facebook. I haven’t seen the bullies or the haters like I have over there. It blows my mind. Granted I haven’t been here long and my following isn’t large so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it but still. I don’t see it much on other bloggers’ pages either. I’m impressed with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. *knock on wood* I agree… WP has been pretty civil… even some posts where I thought OMG, I am going to get so much hate for saying this… has been non-existent. If anything, people are hesitant to comment.

    When I blogged the first time though… and when I used to go to chat rooms and discussion forums back in the day… it was a free-for-all. I had to not only develop a thick skin, but was thankful I inherited even a smidgeon of my mom’s quick-witted life-time waitress, sarcasm. lol.

    I think really, part of this is learning to overlook stupidity.

    I tell my kids: “Ignore it. Report it. Delete it.”

    Never engage… unless you are able to diffuse the statement with genial humor. Which I have only succeeded at doing twice in my internet life. lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve read so many nightmare stories about online trolls and haters, but I have to say I have been incredibly lucky so far.

    As a child, I did experience bullying at school. It was before the Internet era, and I am so glad the hating couldn’t follow me home via social media. I’ve learned to deal with people who had time to lose hating others pointlessly.

    Like others mentionned before me, Facebook has not been a problem, since I personally know almost all my “friends”. I have been blamed once or twice for posting too much about one subject or another, but I never had disturbing experiences.

    I still consider myself pretty new to the Bloggosphere, the Cove being just over a year old and developping. But I must say that as readers keep adding up, I wonder when things could take a turn for the bad. I know there are some bored people online, who have lots of time on their hands and a will to spread negativity around them. I am grateful none of them bothered to visit me so far, and to have a peaceful place to share my thoughts.

    But I am aware it might happen. Any day. I just hope that WordPress will prove to remain the positive network it has been for me so far…

    *Fingers crossed*

    Liked by 1 person

    • From what I’ve read from your blog (which has been for some time now) I don’t see you posting controversial topics or things that generally attract the haters. Hopefully that trend will continue. And I’m sorry to hear you were bullied in school. I’m working on a piece right now that sort of encompassed what I did to get by in school without being everyone’s target.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are right about the content of the Cove. I sometimes feel like I should risk expressing my opinions more, but I just don’t feel that it is relevant since I am no expert on politics or such matters.

        It probably kept haters away from the Cove, and I won’t complain about that πŸ˜‰

        As for bullying, I feel “lucky” it was about 30 years ago, because I think it is much worse nowadays with all the social medias.

        I can’t wait to read that piece…

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Yeah it happens, people stuck in heavy vibrations can’t bear to watch birds in flight, but I always find it best, if I engage and that is rare, to wish them well and say I hope whatever they don’t like about themselves changes soon.

    They *really* hate that πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I’ve had one really bad experience, which caused me to almost delete my blog. Fortunately, I decided I couldn’t let them be the cause of giving up everything I’d worked so hard for. So I began to ignore their bullying and eventually it stopped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’d know the difference, I would think. A debate is different than a scathing remark. I remember one person on Instagram told me I should be thankful for my abuse because it taught me how to please a man. I was flabbergasted. There was no way to debate such a comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are right. Not debatable. I think the our messed up culture is the reason. I’m male and visibly represent as such and so I think it gets minimized. Or that’s me projecting and you have many more followers than me and so are statistically more likely to attract assholes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Statistics, perhaps, but I’m also careful about how I word my pieces (poetry or otherwise) to keep any potential offensive phrases out of the mix. That’s not to say I’ll always be successful, but I’m not picked on as often as some others are. I’m glad you don’t really have to deal with it. I much prefer a laid back environment to drink up whatever you’re dishing out. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Thanks for sharing this. On my main blog, I’ve had nothing but love. But I ran a sister blog focusing on my football team for a few years. Once fans of the rival team got wind of it, the hating kicked in, and I stopped writing the blog- too much negative energy. Football’s very tribal like that and people who might be kind and well-mannered ordinarily seem to think it’s ok to indulge in abusive, mocking behaviour under the guise of “banter”. I reject that entirely and hope we can change the culture over time to be more positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I’ve been very lucky in the Facebook department; all my Friends there are indeed people I know, so civility reigns. Here on WordPress, despite making public noise for nearly… good heavens, nine years, I also haven’t encountered much in the way of trollish nonsense– a few marginally painful yet constructive criticisms, but only a couple of incidents of someone plainly out to do nothing but cause harm. My response has been to whisk the offensive comment out of the world, and to block the offender; just what has been suggested above. It’s YOUR space, and anything published here is at your pleasure– use the power as you feel fit.

    There’s a blog I frequent where the owner was, for a time, not simply removing the nasty post, but replacing them with things like “I am a big baby who can’t be let out in public. I never learned how to behave” while leaving the troll’s name on them. Fun, but more work than simple erasure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind words. I don’t see the point in changing comments like that, it would seem like it would only antagonize people more. I’m glad to hear that for the most part, you’ve kept your space free of the drama, and have removed the ones that try to start it.

      Like

  22. i understand your concern – especially those who write comments that are either totally unrelated to your work or comments that show they have no idea what your works is about. i don’t block them – i either approve their comments and not respond, or respond with sarcasm.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The world of WordPress and blogging is not nearly as random as Facebook and Twitter. I follow your blog because I like your writing. Same with other blogs I follow. I enjoy and I learn. And if your work is influenced by personal or political beliefs that don’t intersect with mine, I consider an opportunity to broaden my understanding of people who are different from me. It truly is a wonderful thing. And I think most bloggers have that attitude. I was never bullied on Facebook or Twitter (nor on WordPress) but my mental health improved when I closed those accounts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even if you aren’t involved in any of those dramatics, you will still see them, and that’s unfortunate. It just adds to stress levels. And I agree, unless someone attacks me directly, I don’t take offense to anyone’s beliefs and will do my best to understand them. Thank you for your support! 😊

      Like

  24. In my experience, WordPress is a pretty positive spaceβ€”in part because bloggers can police their own comments and have control to block trolls. It’s not as “open” as some social media platforms, and it takes more effort to be here. Whilst I’ve seen plenty of bullying on online forums, I’ve yet to find it here.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. I have encountered jealous writers/poets. This might be totally wrong as I might be the one thinking too much, but I have encountered bloggers here who have more followers who think they are better only cause of that; and perhaps my writing is nothing compared to them cause of it.
    In general there are people who have said my writing/poetry is very simply phrased, at times, but they have tried to write like me and have oh-so-very-obviously failed.
    These experiences have kept me going and thus concluding in this thought:
    “Knowing and believing in one’s style of writing is the best way forward for him/her.”

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m still new to blogging and have not experience any bullying, but I had to delete my Facebook about five years ago because of bully’s. Some people just read too much into our words and think we are talking directly to them. I really enjoy your post’s. :)Teresa

    Liked by 2 people

  27. You know, screw them! As soon as I engage in reading comments like that, I merely ship their asses to spam and move on. I haven’t time for such immaturity. Great post on an important subject.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, in the unlikely event I see something that just doesn’t sit right with me, either I’ll delete the comment or respond in a polite manner, but these days the latter is used much less frequently than the former. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  28. I will never completely comprehend this, Sarah. The world is big enough for everybody. But from reading your posts its clear that you have many admirers, and I count myself among them. I salute your uniqueness and creativity.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. I only had one bad experience and I gave her one too many chances. I moderate my comments and deleted her after she and some fellow bloggers got pissed and called her out om it. People think they know everything about you because you write about your life. I know there is a risk with doing so and I welcome everyone’s opinions but there has to be a line drawn on nastiness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree about drawing a line. I’ve had plenty of people tell me to get over my past and move on, but it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple, especially when you’re dealing with your entire childhood development. I don’t moderate my comments here, but I have received some rather infuriating comments through social media. I’m sorry you have to deal with that here.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I’ve noticed on wordpress this sort of online trolling doesn’t seem to be so rampant. But this sort of thing is inevitable elsewhere on the internet. People comment what they think without thinking first, or they just want to share the negative thoughts or ‘criticisms’ about other people’s work/input. I too hope this space continues to be welcoming and positive. I do so love what you write!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Last week a stranger on Facebook told me he didn’t care if I was hurt (I didn’t say I was) and said he wanted me to F*** O**. I had tried to debate a political point on Breitbart when I noticed a friend was having a hard time. I was polite and genuinely interested in their point of view. I just f***ed off after that. There was no point. I’m not a fan of Facebook! I wonder how these bullies would be face to face?

    Liked by 4 people

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