Funny story: about a year ago, I came across a pretty little button on someone’s blog that piqued my interest.

BWS tips buttonI clicked on it and read all about the author’s campaign to end Internet bullying, particularly “mom-on-mom” aggression.

And I thought to myself, “Huh. That’s odd. I’ve never seen anything even remotely redolent of online bullying, particularly by women against other women.”

Then it hit me like a sock full of quarters, “Oh my God…is she talking about ME? I am pretty snarky sometimes. OH SHIT. Am I a cyber bully?”

I immediately emailed the author, Elizabeth Flora Ross, and asked her to please tell me more about it.

Elizabeth kindly explained that she was particularly concerned with:

“women who attack specific individuals…by leaving hateful comments repeatedly on a person’s blog…by writing nasty posts on their own blogs specifically aimed at that individual, and by saying bad things about that person on social media sites. It happens a lot. I see it all the time.”

And I wrote back, “That’s shocking!” and “Oh phew, that’s not me!” and “Thank you for the information!” But I never did anything further about it; never took “The Mom Pledge,” never even gave it another thought.

As many of you know, last week my satirical blog post about Bucket Head and the gum ball machine was viciously attacked by a small and particularly hateful group of anonymous commenters. 

It was eerily reminiscent of a (virtual) home invasion.

They crashed into our little community and verbally assaulted me, my parenting, my children, and even my readers. One of them even wished us bodily harm.

The whole experience was rather unsettling and caused me to feel a wide range of complex emotions.

At first I was like, “Huh?”

confused face

And then I was like, “Oh-Em-Gee.”

Come Bobo, they're being meanies.

 

And then I was all, “Oh no she DI-int!”

You should learn to take a joke...

And now I’m just like, “Ha!”

Got trolled; page views through the roof. Success!

I’m just saying.

So where were we? Oh yes, Internet bullying.

I recognize that publicly sharing this blog puts me in a vulnerable position. It’s like hosting an Open House every day and not knowing who might walk through my door. And perhaps I’m at greater risk than some because of my colorful vocabulary and willingness to “tell all.”

But that doesn’t give anyone the right to disrespect me. Ever. 

This particular pack of attackers chose to check their manners at the door and “crap all over my house.” Not okay.

Many of you who jumped to my defense here and on Twitter, Facebook, and your own beautiful blog posts (here and here) were as stunned as I was. Your support was incredibly comforting to me. Thank you.

Several of you applauded me for ignoring the nastier comments and thus “not feeding the trolls.”

Interestingly, some of these attackers did not take kindly to being called “trolls,” even though their actions were clearly in line with the Urban Dictionary definition of a troll.

Unwelcome, offensive, stupid or abusive commenter on a blog, chat room, user group or BBS.

Silly me, I didn’t even know what an Internet troll was before last week. But now I do, and I feel compelled to officially announce my stance on this issue:

Any questions?

No, I didn’t think so.

It’s really quite simple. No matter what your background, race, religion, age, gender, interests, or politics…just be nice.

Or like I say to the ladies at my church potlucks, if you don’t like what I’m cookin’, don’t fucking eat it. 

Love thy neighbor.

Now, for you citizens of the Internet with your own blogs, I urge you to learn from my mistakes. Take action NOW. Don’t sit back and think “Oh, that will never happen to me.”

It can, and it might. It’s the nature of the Internet.

If I had taken The Mom Pledge a year ago, I would have been more prepared for how to deal with this issue. I would have immediately recognized the difference between a dissenter and a bully. And I would have known my rights and how I should react (by immediately deleting such comments and not giving attackers a platform for their hatred).

I’m proud to say I’ve finally taken the pledge, better late than never, and I encourage you to do the same.

Be prepared. Know your rights. Take the pledge. 

“The internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for women to connect. What we should be doing is celebrating the joys of motherhood together and supporting one another through the challenges. This is the environment we hope to create. Take the Pledge today and join us!  ~ Elizabeth Flora Ross

Together we are strong,

-Iris

© Copyright 2012, The Bearded Iris. Be nice.