Take Back the ‘Net

Published October 4, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Ok, I’m declaring war on all of the trolls and bullshit artists I get on this blog, and my other blogs for that matter.  I’m royally fed up with these cretins coming into MY space and trying to bully me, intimidate me, hate me, annoy me, post with fake names/accounts (sock-puppeting) spam me with fake concern about my fatness, waste my time and/or do any or all of the above to my respectful readers, you’re about to get what you deserve.

There is this culture in blogging where writers are expected to be civil, be respectful to anyone who comes to their blog and comments.  You’re supposed to “give them the benefit of the doubt”, “encourage discussion” and “keep an open mind” when it comes to commenters on your blogs.  However, it’s a totally one sided concept.  Because every day when I log on to WordPress, I’m confronted with this bullshit, even though I’ve tried to keep civil and give people the benefit of the doubt, nobody calls the trolls on this.  Where is their civility and respect for me?

99% of the troll comments I see on my blogs never see the light of day.  They get relegated to my spam filter quick sticks and in most cases, when they don’t see their comment go public and don’t get a reaction out of me, they go away.  The real pisser though is that for every one that goes away, there are more waiting in line to have a go.

They are of course, worst on this blog.  There is something about a fat woman blogging and being proud of herself, confident and having strong self esteem that simply enrages trolls, and they just can’t leave without leaving some bullying behind to try to cause hurt.

That’s what this boils down to, no matter what the method.  It’s bullying.  Whether it’s the “Oh, but what about your health?” concern trolls, the “Fucking die you fat bitch” full blown hatred trolls, the argumentative trolls that try to read something into your work that you’re not saying, the “freedom of speech” trolls who try to bully the blogger into allowing them to spread their hate by suggesting that they’re being censored if they are blocked or deleted, no matter what kind of troll you have infesting your blog, it’s bullying.  It’s trying to make you feel bad, or shut you up, or make others laugh at you, or to get you to react.

That is bullying.

It’s not discussion, it’s not telling the truth, it’s not keeping it real, it’s not concern, it’s not for your own good.  It’s simply bullying to make you feel bad and to silence your voice.

The abdication of responsibility in online bullying is one thing that infuriates me.  If I “publicly” (and I acknowledge that online is still public, but you get what I mean) said some of the things that troll bullies say to people online, there would be outrage.  But because it’s behind a username, or in the comments on a blog, or someone’s Facebook or Twitter, and so on, it’s written off as something one just has to suffer through as the price to pay for being online.

I read this fantastic piece by Anil Dash called “There is No Such Thing as Cyberbullying” today.  In it, Anil calls out the practice of diminishing online bullying as something that is the fault of the technology, and not the perpetrators behind it.  The internet doesn’t bully gay kids into suicide, or fat people/women/bloggers into giving up their writing, PEOPLE do.  And those people need to be held responsible for their actions.

Just today I came across this post from the lovely Georgina at Cupcake’s Clothes where she talks about some utter arsehole who stole a photograph of her from her site, and photoshopped it “thin”, and then anonymously sent it back to her.  What kind of loser, what kind of sad, pathetic little person has time in their life to do that shit?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to read the blogs that I love, and comment on all of them.  Let alone go to a blog and bully someone as a troll.  What kind of life does someone have if they have time to do that?  Or have time to take a perfectly good photo of someone off a website and photoshop the shit out of it?

My time is at a premium.  But I’m going to make time to take on some of this.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this bullshit.  I say it’s time to take back the internet from the bullies.

I say it’s time that we start taking a few simple steps to show the bullies that there are repercussions to harassing people online.  There are several things you and I can do.

  • Publish their email addresses and IP’s online for all to see.  Then other bloggers can block them/add them to spam filters.
  • Take their IP, and look it up.  If they are posting from their workplace, then contact their employers and make a formal complaint that they are bullying people from a workplace computer.  I personally have had bullies post comments from companies that I could easily identify by their IP details.  Trust me, businesses don’t want the bad press of their employees bullying people from work computers.
  • If they are threats of violence or other crime, then take the time to report them to the administrators of your blog, Facebook, Twitter or other platform.
  • Support one another.  Instead of just letting bullies say whatever they like unchallenged, when you see it on a blog/Facebook anywhere else, speak up.  Call them out, tell them their behaviour is not acceptable.
  • Blog about how bullying is not acceptable online.  The more we talk about it, the more momentum it will gain.
  • Bullies operate on fear.  Don’t be afraid, get angry.
  • Remember that your blog, your Facebook, your Twitter, your account with anything is YOURS.  Ask yourself – would I accept someone treating me like this in my house?  If the answer is no, then don’t accept it in your online spaces.
  • Most importantly, don’t let the bullies silence you.  Don’t let them win.  Don’t reward their behaviour.

We can change this.  The internet doesn’t belong to bullies, it belongs to us.  All of us.  Collectively, we make the rules.

26 comments on “Take Back the ‘Net

  • yup. this is why i stopped y own blog. i couldnt take it, my FA journey wasn’t strong enough (yet). apparently i cant take the horrible critism of strangers. thanks for this YES! fist pumping to the sky YES

  • I had a bully on my blog last year. From my “home” state (well, it’s the state where I went to school and graduated high school). I assumed it was someone who knew from way back then, 30-some years ago. I had site meter on my blog, and I figured out from that the IP address of the bully, and I posted it in the sidebar of my blog along with a nasty little note saying that the bully’s comments wouldn’t be read, wouldn’t see the light of day, and anyone else who did the same would receive the same treatment. It’s a funny thing, I haven’t had a troll since I published that IP address and note (unless you count Fat Bastard from Bigger Fatter Blog as a troll, for some reason he’s following my blog and tries to comment every now and then. I’ve blocked him, for all the good it will do, and I don’t publish his comments, I mark them as spam).

    • I get them EVERY day. I think part of it is because I’m a) highly visible with my hot pink hair and tattoos and b) bolshy. That seems to paint a big red target on me. How dare I not hide myself away and make myself invisible, and actually have an opinion and voice it.

      Most of mine are strangers but occasionally I get someone I actually know masquerading under a false name/profile. IP lookups are a good thing.

  • I haven’t had to deal with trolls yet, and I don’t know how to look up an IP address….But I’m with you on all of this. It makes me so mad that trolls think they should be allowed to beat people down. Telling someone how fat and ugly they are is not a right protected by freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is only free insofar as it doesn’t harm others in any lasting way. It’s the reason people aren’t allowed to stand up in a packed theater and yell fire! And sure trolls calling me fat and ugly may not get anyone run over by a terrified mob of people, but it still does lasting harm.

  • I’m with you, especially on the matter of support.
    Best way to treat a troll, IMHO, is to string ’em up and mock them and jeer at them preferably with your own buddies giving you the high-five (or the cyber-equivalent for particularly witty remarks). Say to them everything you’ve ever wanted to say to a bully. Just don’t expect them to answer sensibly.
    I call it guilt-free rudeness .

  • Rock on!

    I don’t have a blog, but I try to support other bloggers by commenting in a positive or at least constructive way (when pointing out problems), and will continue to do so. Thanks for keeping comments moderated – I don’t dare read comments on anything other than moderated blogs!

      • Which I find strange since everyone allowed to comment on my things there is someone I know and can get in contact with in some other way. (I don’t really _know_ all of them). But yes, Facebook is full off bullying.

      • I think Facebook, and mr Zuckerberg have bad ethics, not just because they don’t really care about privacy, but also because they do not care about bullying and all the other things that go on. They just want to rake in the money (which they make from mining your personal info).

      • Multiply (another blogging and social network site) is even worse than facebook – at least on facebook you can block an individual and you never see any of their posts at all…. on Multiply it only stops them from contacting you, they still have access to your site if you have it public, or they have friends who are mutual with yours. UGH

  • This makes a whole lot of sense to me, more than just binning trolls emails, because if you do that, you are not confronting anyone.

    Some people use the Feedjit “live traffic feed”, that shows where visitors to your site are coming from. Vistors can see from that that their location is not a secret.

  • Thanks for the mention. The incident you linked to didn’t actually bother me much, but I still question, as you do, who has the time to be so hateful & pathetic? At the beginning of my fat acceptance journey I wouldn’t have been as strong about troll & hateful words, but nearly a year on, I am more or less indifferent. These people don’t (seem to) realise that their words/actions have consequences, that they can have a lifelong effect on people. People say things like “well if you publish photos of ourself on the internet, then you are just asking for it”, but I hardly think that’s fair. Does that mean if I leave my house & make myself visible to the world, people should be allowed to say hateful things to me just for being there? No, & neither should it on the net. Unfortunately the internet, as well as housing some lovely communities, also harbours a breeding ground for trolls, who can remain anonymous & not have to deal with the consequences of their words.

    • You are spot on there Georgina. The attitude that fat women are supposed to just hide themselves away, and not participate in the things that not-fat people take for granted is victim blaming and bigotry at it’s most overt.

      And even while it doesn’t hurt us anymore when the trolls have a go at us directly, it hurts other people. It hurts those who look like us but don’t have our confidence, it hurts those who already loathe their bodies for whatever reason, and it hurts people in general by perpetuating the culture of bullying as acceptable.

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