Ignore the Bullies, and Keep Being Awesome

August 27, 2015 at 12:30 am 1 comment

The Bullies Don’t Actually Know You: A Vital Reminder in How Crowd-Sourced Jerks Work

Over the years, I’ve seen various people with eloquent and well thought out opinions and positive contributions retreat from online spaces because they couldn’t take the bullying and the obnoxious comments. Some people just make their blogs comment-free. Others retreat completely. This is all an individual choice, but the problem just gets worse whenever we do this- we cede more territory to the nasty people. Remember, they are a relative minority- the loudest, most obnoxious, often unemployed for a reason (nothing against unemployed people- I’m one of them after all!) They are not a true reflection of the entire community or subculture that they participate in online.

Now, building face to face, in person community is important, and I try to use the Internet as a tool for doing that- I sometimes hear from people in a particular community who poo-poo it all and think that they are better because they managed to find each other in (insert decade here) the old-fashioned way. Well, that’s nice, but not everyone happens to be in the right place to just stumble across other people of a particular religious, sexual minority, disability, hobby group or what have you. Sometimes you are dealing with people that are more in the closet about various things, and you have to find a way to lure them out- at least into a space they feel safe. For some folks, that space will continue to be primarily online. Some people are geographically isolated. They may not be able to afford to go to Pagan festivals, science fiction conventions, or bisexual conferences. They may have complex health needs, businesses to run or young children or elderly parents to take care of. They may even be homeless or living in a group home or mental institution, but Tumblr or Twitter are places they can reach the outside world on their smart phone and get support and information. For some people, this can be a life or death connection. So let’s not tell them that they are just “slacktivists” and lazy homebodies when we don’t know their situation.

These are the folks I’m thinking of who keep me writing online. I try to get past all the drama, just transcend, and remember why I’m here and what I’m doing. Moderate your comments- delete the abusive ones, the derailing ones, the ones that just don’t add to conversations. Write a FAQ or a “How to Be an Ally to Group X” (or link to either) so you don’t have to keep answering the same questions, but at the same time, don’t bite people’s heads off for asking them. Just say “Good question- please read the FAQ/101 Masterpost, and let me know if you want to know more”. When people tell you “your interpretation of feminism/queer theory/Norse mythology/Star Wars canon is WRONG!!! Tell them, OK then why don’t you make your own post/essay/ritual/interpretative dance/fan fiction/workshop and do it your way. Some people just want attention, any attention even if it’s negative. Sometimes we can re-direct them in a more positive direction. Sometimes they will just sit in the corner and pout and try to cause trouble another day. Sometimes they’ll surprise you, because you’re the first person to consider their pet theory/idea/project (even if you think it’s totally out there/impractical/silly) But if they are willing to create their thing and follow their groove while playing well with others, I’ll give them a shout-out, even if it’s not my cut of tea.

But I love the internet, because it’s a giant marketplace of ideas. Many of them are bad. Some of them are harmful. Some of them are good- and even really cool. So keep coming up with new ideas and developing them and sharing them with like-minded people. Keep Being Awesome.

Your Fandom’s OK, my Fandom’s OK

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Entry filed under: How-To. Tags: , , , , .

Pagan Identity and Responsibility Send Heathens to the Parliament of the World’s Religions!

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