So for those of you who haven't heard (and therefore apparently ONLY read my blog. Which makes you special, special, oh so special...) there was much drama this week regarding people using the pure artform of the blog for purposes only evil. You can find one person's take on the whole thing here, and someone else's take here (and by putting "cyber bully" into your favorite search engine I'm sure you'll find a skillion more...)
When I read the first post above, written by a woman who felt very seriously that she'd had death threats made towards her and was pretty freaked, I had two reactions. One was that it sucked (also called the "duh!" response) and the other was that she was overreacting a little. As many, many people who have commented on this since it first hit the news have said, bullying is nothing new, "death threat" might be a bit of a stretch (though I do think the threat is in the definition of the victim -- you feel threatened, you were threatened. Period.) and the last thing folks like these bullies should get is massive attention for being, frankly (warning: curse words coming!) big, cowardly, pathetic shit-sticks.
But this ball got rolling with much momentum and nary a bit of moss, until another blogger declared today officially "Stop Cyberbullying Day!" (OK, Hallmark, where are my greeting cards, my official baby onesie, my "I heart Stop Cyberbullying Day" coffee mug?) Now on the one hand how could you speak out against such a thing? Really, find me the guy who will write a blog post called "Cyberbullying is Rad and everybody should do it. Also later I'll be kicking a puppy." But I also try not to leap upon wagons full of bands. So I want to find the thing to say here that speaks from my special place. (the heart, damn it, the heart! shame on you...)
The folks who were accused of making death threats claim that they are getting backlash from Kathy Sierra because they were criticizing her books. I mean they say this specifically. If you read the comments after her posting there's a guy going by the name "Joey" who keeps defending himself by saying "Hey, what I said was taken out of context. I was just negatively critiquing her book!" It's true that I never saw the original postings being referenced, but I just can't for the life of me figure out how the sentence (and he's verified that this is what he wrote) "the only thing Kathy has to offer me is that noose in her neck size." could ever be classified as a book critique. Mention the book, mention her writing or even mention books in GENERAL and you might have my attention. But this, my friend, is a cruel comment at BEST and serves absolutely no purpose other then to hurt. Even Ebert would tell you that critics are not out there to hurt people.
So if you ARE out there to hurt people what does that make you? (watch carefully -- we're about to come full circle) A BULLY. So regardless of what else comes down the pipe on this I will forever remain convinced that Kathy Sierra was bullied by some bad folks.
Now, let's talk about the people. Why does someone bully? I have some theories on that. I think a bully tends to be someone who is a) weak, b) pathetic, c) powerless in any way that matters and d) angry. And the reasons that they bully? To get a) attention, b) attention, c) look at me, look at me, I do TOO matter! and/or d) did I mention attention? So I'm very sorry that the end result of all of this is that the completely worthless people who purpetrated the original offense can now consider themselves minor celebrities in the blogging world.
I have a different idea for how to combat this in the future: make damn sure they get NO attention. Delete the comments, never, ever, EVER visit any sites they populate and generally treat them like the impossibly lame wastes that they are. I think Kathy Sierra, and anyone else who is ever attacked like that, should do what they think is right, but I would hope that this is the last full-scale dedication of time that these guys ever get. Because in the end it's all they ever really wanted.
Last thing: Someone out there who may now or someday read this has got to be saying to themselves "oh sure, easy for you to say. You blog anonymously. Even if someone were to ever threaten you it's not like you should fear for your life, because they probably don't know who you are, so you're safe." And you'd be right. And I'd think it too if I were reading this. I don't blog secretly for reasons of safety, and I think my friends who DO know about this blog would back that up. If anything, I'm known for leaping into danger in truly comic book fashion and worrying about the consequences much, much later. But I will say this:
If ever I felt that my blogging in secret was giving power or comfort to low-life's such as these I'd come clean in a heartbeat. I can't think of a better reason to come out of the secret blogger closet then to say to the bullies, cyber or otherwise, of the world: You don't matter. You're worth nothing and nobody should give you a second thought.
Because if you did matter to anyone or anything you wouldn't have to prove your worth by hurting others. Grow up or go away.
Sorry that this is so drama-y. Bullies are kind of a hot button for me; flashback to me as the drama geek from highschool, dragging my drowning buddy from the school pool. I promise this will return to being lite and airy by the next post. (If you haven't voted on what you'd like me to add to my "about me" check the previous post.) But I guess I felt like moments like these may be another reason I respect the blogosphere. If the world builds you a magical tool that gives you an instant voice you have to use it when it counts. Consider me counting!!