In addition to cyberbully profiles, I would like this site to be a place to share stories from people who have been bullied online. As these stories are a bit more subjective than the stick-to-the-facts bully profiles, these posts will not mention the names of the people who did the bullying. These posts are more about the effects the bullying had on the victims, how they got through it, what action they took, and if there have been any lessons learned.
This is my story.
As these things go, I’ve been fairly lucky. My cyberbullying experience is made up of isolated incidents, so I haven’t had to deal with long-term stalkers or anything like that. (There is one person who was a thorn in my side for several months, but there was only one publicly visible tweet as evidence to the world, so I do not count it as cyberbullying. This was real life, and involved a copyright dispute and trying to get paid for my work.)
The Militant Vegan
My most recent cyberbully is a woman I will refer to as the Militant Vegan. I have friends who are vegetarians, and one of my friends from high school was vegan, so I don’t want you to think I have problems with non-meat eaters. I do have a problem with those who don’t eat meat and take it upon themselves to verbally abuse and harass people who do eat meat and animal products.
It started with this post: November is National Diabetes Month – Why I Care. The Militant Vegan - who I’d followed on Twitter a while back as a part of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia community, but I’d unfollowed because of her negativity – started mentioning me in tweets where she ripped into me for health claims made in the post that were given to me by the post sponsor as talking points.
The thing is, I would have appreciated a tactful note concerning the accuracy of any health claims in my posts. I’m not an expert in many of the things I blog about, and I don’t claim to be. If something isn’t right, I appreciate if people let me know so I can do a little more research and make edits as necessary. But don’t put my back up about it by being rude and going on the attack. (I also got tweets from another account telling me she hopes someone will sue me for my “dangerous misinformation.”) I still don’t believe that Better’n Eggs sent me “dangerous misinformation,” but I did remove one statement about egg whites and adrenal glands that I didn’t fully understand.
After I blocked this person on Twitter, she decided to leave a comment on the post. I did not leave it up on my blog, because I believe it would take the focus away from the good I was trying to do. Instead, I will copy it here:
I’m disgusted that someone would post such dangerous misinformation. People who know nothing about medicine (including nutrition) have no business writing about it. It is a) very damaging to their readers b) very damaging to real medical writers like me. You not only put real medical writers to shame, also real bloggers.
As a blogger you have certain responsibility (and blocking people who remind you of that on Twitter does in no way remove that). But you don’t care. You just parrot any senseless misinformation any company sends you and promote utter junk food (which increases the risk of diabetes) as healthy, if you just get free products (and/or money). That’s not blogging. That’s just being a mindless shill. You’re endangering people’s lives and using your brother’s health as a promotional tool, how appalling.
Apparently some people will do anything for money. You should be ashamed of yourself.
A second comment continues the attack:
Not surprisingly you remove comments criticizing you of posting dangerous misinformation, but refuse to remove that misinformation. I can only hope someone sues you for those lies you are spreading, because you clearly have no conscience and that’s probably the only way to stop people like you from harming others.
Let me be clear here. I do not accept money for a post to become a “shill” for anyone. When I accept money for a post, I post my honest opinions, draw upon my own experiences, and try to share provided talking points that I believe to be valid. I do not want my posts to contain inaccuracies, so if someone provides constructive criticism to me, I will take appropriate action. As for the money itself, the amount was actually lower than I usually accept, but I begged to be allowed to participate in the campaign after I thought I’d missed the application deadline, because diabetes is such an important issue for me.
To start with the namecalling – implying that I’m not a “real blogger” – and accusing me of using my brother’s health as a promotional tool makes me irate. My brother, whom I love, almost died. I shared the story because that is what makes National Diabetes Month relevant to my life – and therefore relevant to my blog. “Real bloggers” try to connect with other people on a personal level. Insinuating that I would exploit my family for money offends me. (P.S. I am a “real blogger” and a “real writer,” because I do this professionally for companies who hire me to provide content for them. Thanks.)
As far as the recipes I shared being “utter junk food,” I disagree with that statement. I am aware that some people are almost militant about their definition of “healthy foods,” especially in the realm of vegetarianism and veganism. I can acknowledge that it would be healthier to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, but others need to understand that it isn’t realistic for everyone. Sometimes, making healthiER choices is better than what you were previously doing. If you normally enjoy dishes made with pork bacon, full fat cheese, and whole eggs, then it is a healthier decision to make a dish with reduced fat cheese, turkey bacon, and egg whites or egg substitute. It is a step in the right direction, and I will defend my decision to promote such recipes. Potato chips and brownies are junk food with no nutritional value. Whole wheat muffins with cheese and egg substitute are not junk food.
The Militant Vegan’s attacks made me cry. I knew her accusations were baseless, but implying that I’d sell out my brother for a few bucks still cut me deeply. I was paranoid for a few days that she would come back to my blog even after I banned her IP address, or send some of her friends to do it for her. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
Other Miscellaneous Incidents
I’ve been able to shrug off other attempts to bully me online, mostly a few trollish tweets that tried to get my back up. And I faced a lot of online derision when I had to give up breastfeeding my son, but that was before I was really blogging.
If you are being bullied on Twitter, make sure you block your attacker and report them for being in violation of the TOS. If you are being bullied in your blog comments, there is a fantastic WordPress Plugin called IP Ban. I highly recommend installing it.