I have this friend. She’s a blogger. She’s super-nice, and she puts up with way more shit every single day than I could deal with in a lifetime.
She barely speaks a word about it, but it would have to be like being pecked to death by hens – every day, every time she does her work, someone, somewhere is bitching at her.
She posted a picture of her daughter’s curly hair straightened, after her daughter finally wore her down with begging to try it – someone chided her for letting her daughter experiment because she should be happy with the hair she has.
She posted a picture of a trolley, and somebody admonished her for leaving her handbag open.
She posted a picture of a pink plastic deer head on her wall, and received emails accusing her of encouraging hunting and animal abuse.
The first day she was home with her newborn and other daughter alone after her husband went back to work, she posted that she had successfully navigated the day solo. She was inundated with single mums on Facebook calling her a weak bitch and that she shouldn’t say “solo parenting” because real single parents had such a hard time and were sick of people talking about how hard it was when they weren’t single parents themselves. They also tagged their single friends into the fight so they could all ambush her.
When months upon months of only sleeping one or two hours a night finally took their toll and she admitted defeat and called someone in to help the baby sleep, someone went on a rant and accused her of being a bad mother because she couldn’t “handle it herself” and had chosen to “throw money at her problem” instead of just sucking it up, like the commenter was.
When her sister named her baby something unusual, someone commented pretty harshly about the sanity of the mother, and upon finding out her comment had been deleted, went on an email rant with the old chestnut “bloggers only want people to agree with them, otherwise they delete comments”. No, that person had been a straight-up fuckwit and didn’t deserve to have her unnecessary nastiness displayed for all to see. That’s different.
She has a wonderful community endeavour where she shares four images from the people playing along with her challenge, for no other reason than it’s nice to highlight a job well done. Sometimes one of those images has been swiped from someone else (and that’s hard to tell just by looking!) and if she’s not there to sort it out immediately (because she’s out, you know, living her life), the comment thread can get super-nasty. Like she’s profiting off other people’s stolen images and laughing at them all from the top of her giant pile of money.
She created an iPhone app that cost her thousands of dollars and when sold, only just paid for itself. Android users across the universe keep demanding a version for their devices, getting lippy while they’re at it. They tell her she’s making a bad business decision, and that she doesn’t care about her fans because she doesn’t have the $50,000 it would cost to convert the app to their preferred operating system.
When she replies, they email and tell her she’s rude.
Imagine every single time you touched your phone, someone was whingeing that you’re doing something wrong, or you’re just not good enough.
And yet, still she blogs. Because she loves it. And she’s awesome at it. And yes, to an extent one must endure a bit of biff when you are so well-known. But as we all know, the internet is full of people who shoot first and ask questions later, who unload their assholery all over the world, and confuse opinions with knowledge. I also call bullshit on that “you put yourself out there so you should be able to take criticism” business. Criticism (to a point) of one’s work, yes. Enduring your late night wine-fueled hate rant, no.
It kills me because it’s so unnecessary, and most of the time is so unfounded. They clearly have no idea of what kind of person she is, or they would never say what they do. I don’t know how she does it. Every single day. And this is only the half of it. I shudder to think what goes on in her email inbox, or whatever else is happening on threads I don’t see.
To be fair, sometimes it’s not all malicious. The world is vast, and there’s a million different opinions (all correct, of course). So it’s natural to have someone comment with an opposite view. But even if they’re not being mean about it it, if it’s on every single thing you share with your audience, it can get a bit draining. You can’t please everybody, and they’ll tell you so. Even if it’s kindly.
I had lunch with another blogger recently, who is very well-known and super-well-loved. She too has been henpecked half to death with people wanting to tell her she’s wrong, that they’re disappointed in her, and that she’s not trying hard enough. She has a chocolate? There’s palm oil in that, how dare she. She watches a TV show? Only idiots watch that show. She likes a movie? One of the stars of that movie then went on to make a TV show 20 years later that had some slightly misogynistic undertones, she should be ashamed of herself.
Over lunch we talked about being asked for blogging advice, and that lots of people would dearly love to know how to make it big, how to crack that ceiling, and be the top of the blogging food chain. “Do they really?”, she asked, sadly. It’s obviously a double-edged sword.
The benefits though, are numerous. Paid to blog? Making a living doing what you love? Creating a career on your own terms, forging new media paths, feeling part of a community, people across the world telling you nice things and liking what you do, picking up the kids from school every day? There are major upsides. And some would say being the receptacle of the collective dickheadery of the internet is worth it for that kind of freedom. But as humans, it wears you down, no matter how badass you think you might be. It seems ungrateful to talk about the everyday sledging you get, because tons of people want to be in your shoes, and you know how lucky you are. If you can’t take the heat, you’re supposed to get out of the kitchen. But really, people should just stop setting fire to shit.