Welcome to my life. Told about me, by me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

If You've Got A Problem With A Blogger, Bullying Is Not The Way To Go

Blogs are about people and their lives. It's a well-known fact in the blogging world that it simply cannot be helped that the author of the blog will put in bits and pieces about their lives. Some blogs are even a diary of sorts, a way for the author to write down what happened during the day.

Us bloggers understand that this is going to happen, so we try to either a. get the person's permission first before posting anything with them in it or b. we post an initial, codename referring to them, and if we need a description of them, it'll be vague enough to be anyone.

Unfortunately, some people don't seem to understand that. Take the situation with one of my friends, who I'll call Elisa. Elisa, who has a blog, was recently contacted anonymously on Formspring, with someone threatening to report them if she didn't remove every post that even MENTIONED someone other than Elisa. Under duress, Elisa did so.

Let me make some things clear: If Elisa had given an actual name or accurate description of people, things would be different. But she didn't. Elisa used initials to refer to people. It's a way to protect their identities, like I'm doing while referring to her. She didn't even post descriptions of the people mentioned, and mentioned them at bare minimum and only when necessary.

No. Elisa was just trying to tell the world about her life. And since we're such a social culture, that means she'd have to tell about other people, at least about how they interacted with her. How many people can tell others a story about what happened to them one day without mentioning at least one other person? If you try, you'll realize that it's not as easy as it sounds.

This isn't what bothers me the most, though. No, that would be the manner in which this person did this.

If you have an issue with someone's blog, contact them privately, explain what the problem is, and ask them to remove the offending content. Most of the time, we'll do it without any hassle. When we write, it sometimes won't occur to us how our words will appear to other people, and therefore, as soon as we realize our mistake, we'll fix it. Problem solved.

If the blogger does not respond, or replies no, message them one more time, saying that this is their last warning, and that even though you don't want to, you will report them if necessary. Reiterate why it's important that they take it off. That should do the trick.

If they don't do it then, that's when you report them. You tried multiple times to make them see reason, and they didn't. You did warn them. However, under NO circumstances should you write a message like the one Elisa received.

This person decided to be mean about it. In summary, they said "Take it off NOW or I'm reporting you." This person also went on to say that Elisa's crush, who she had mentioned briefly (using  initials in place of their name) would continue to ignore her as long as she kept doing this.

That's why I'm angry. With that statement, this person's message was no longer a request to take off offending content, or even a warning. This person was trying to cyber-bully Elisa into doing what they wanted. And to me, that's just wrong. Cyber-bullying is NOT okay, no matter what the situation, and telling Elisa that her crush would avoid her (who, by the way, had no idea this message was even sent) as long as she kept up those posts was crossing the line.

Under NO circumstances should you write a message like the one Elisa received. That message was, to be honest, completely uncalled for. Cyber-bullying is NOT okay, no matter what the situation, and telling Elisa that her crush would avoid her as long as she kept those posts up was going too far.

It would be one thing if her crush had messaged her, telling her that they had a problem with the content. But this message was anonymous. The clincher is that this person, whoever they are, wrote in a tone suggesting that it wasn't said crush writing it, but someone else who knew her. So why would they write the message anonymously?

Simple. Because they knew that what they were doing was wrong.

Why else would they need to message Elisa anonymously, when they obviously knew who Elisa was, especially since they were reading her blog? Elisa, as a person, wouldn't have had a problem with taking down the content if someone asked her to. She's not unreasonable about things like this, and knows when she needs to fix something she did, which is a personality trait that becomes apparent soon after meeting her.

And this person has met her. They mentioned a specific detail about her crush, one that I'm not mentioning here, showing that they know who the crush is, and therefore, who Elisa is. This person didn't do this to make sure they were listened to. They did this to be mean.

To me, that's the worst kind of bully. It's one thing to say something mean to a person. It's another thing entirely to hide behind your computer screen and throw hate at them. If you're going to say something about someone, say it to their face. Because otherwise, you're just a coward. And that's all there is to it.

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