I read a disturbing blog yesterday. In fact I probably spent most of the morning reading it, and the nearly 300 comments on the first post.
Ironically, I found it through a vegan blog, which I had found from another vegan blog, but this was nothing to do with food or vegan principles.
It was however, very much about principles, ethics, and values.
The reason I read this blog was because the author was basically publicly criticising a popular blogger on fire who shot to fame in a fairly short space of time. Not only was he Freshly Pressed, he was interviewed by the Daily Post about his wonderful success.
I’d read this popular blogger before he was FPd and interviewed. I followed him for a few short months some two years ago and commented from time to time. Some posts were mildly witty, mildly funny. So were some of the comments. A lot weren’t. They were very sycophantic.
It was clear that there was a real inner circle of followers, and I wasn’t one. Nor was I destined to become one. Fortunately.
He followed one or two of my blogs and made the odd comment, here and there, but rarely.
Some readers may remember I wrote about being accused of trolling on a blog. This was the one. The event was approximately 18 months ago, and I wrote about it after a couple of months. Always best to let these things pass and then write with, hopefully, some objectivity. I didn’t name him or his blog. Anyone who read his blog would know exactly who it was. Anyone who didn’t wouldn’t be interested in the cult following he was creating with his increasingly bizarre posts.
Our difference of opinion came when he was organising a competition for people to be entered on his blogroll (as far as memory serves). I made a comment about not wanting to enter, whereupon he promptly entered me. I think to enter you had to write 20 posts on your own blog saying how wonderful he was and link back to him. I exaggerate but you get the idea. And of course it was one of those silly ‘vote for ME’ competitions which I moaned about on the last post.
I then said I did not want to join in the stupid competition, (I’m paraphrasing here). There was a bit of a huff and then he removed me from it. Hey, you want to put me on your blogroll, fine. You don’t want to, that’s fine too. But I’m not wasting time on MY blog boosting someone else’s ego.
And this is where I was a very naughty little girl. I pointed out that the whole palaver was not designed for everyone else to boost their readership and followers (which he claimed) but that it was aimed at increasing his circus.
The email I received from him was polite. If I didn’t like what he was creating could I stop visiting. I did (stop visiting). I didn’t reply to his email either, employing my usual PR rule of if it isn’t worth answering, leave it alone.
So that was the end of it. I was apparently (almost) the only one on WordPress who had visited his blog and didn’t think he was the bees’ knees, and wondered why people were falling over to worship him. No drama, and I thought no more about it, apart from to mention it in a blog post a couple of months later as a general example of odd behaviour.
But as well as the blog I read from time to time, he had also started another one. Ostensibly to write about his son’s ADHD (I think), but he started asking other people to write guest posts. I’d only looked a few times, so I’ve no idea what happened to that blog after I stopped reading his supposed ‘humour’ blog.
It seems however, that he would ask people to write posts on his second blog about any mental health problems, abuse etc they had suffered in the past. And then he would send them personal emails. Some of them were VERY personal. Remember too, that they were sent to women who had already written in public about any mental health problems they had in the past, and/or any abuse they had suffered ie sexual.
Eventually one woman decided to ‘out’ the said strange blogger. In the few weeks since she did that last month, she has received hate mail and has now closed comments on her blog. In fact she has stopped the blog, although it is still open to be read. In the small window when she put up her last post and comments were still open, they had been closed by the time I had typed a lengthy comment to say I admired her bravery and her stance.
The strange blogger has taken down his blogs. So I can’t give you links, nor would I waste your time, even if he hadn’t scrapped his blogs. There is still his magnificent interview on The Daily Post, if you want to read his view of himself. If you want to play detective I have given the odd clue on this post.
Why write about this? Because there are a lot of good lessons in here. And while I can’t comment on the woman’s blog, I can write a post on my own blog.
1) Go with your gut instinct. If you don’t like a situation in real life you would walk away. If you don’t like one on the internet do the same. You don’t need to be part of the in-crowd. That was a VERY big part of the problem – creating the desire to be accepted. Very nasty.
2) If you are going to guest post – and I would think carefully before you do that – ask yourself why you are doing it. Bluntly speaking, who is getting more out of it – you or the blog host? Also, if you really want to write personal posts about your mental health or abuse that still attract stigma in today’s society, don’t do it on someone else’s blog. Do it on your own, or create a new one, maybe with a new ID.
3) If you want to indulge in internet flirting, keep control. If it goes beyond what you want, walk away. Don’t try and renegotiate the terms and conditions. Someone else has just done that and you need to reject them. Point blank.
4) WordPress has this really odd feature that has always surprised me as it is a total lack of confidentiality. As soon as you comment on someone’s blog, they have your email address. I am always surprised when people ask me for my email address when they already have it. In which case I invariably reply, you already have it, or don’t reply at all on the grounds they are thick. Once one person has it, they can pass it around. This woman has received extremely nasty comments by personal email. Posting comments on a blog is one thing, sending vicious emails anonymously is a whole different level. In my entire blogging life (which is all of seven years) I think I am still in single figures for the amount of people who have sent me emails. And of those, most have been one-offs, some have disappeared, and others come and go as they choose. Suits me.
5) Remember the playground? I’ll show you yours if you show me mine. Watch what you do with your photos. Sending personal photos by email if you don’t put them on a blog is not a good idea. Sending email photos at all is a very risky adventure. Putting lots of them on your blog may not be a good idea if you are a woman. I had a friend some years back who was seriously freaked by a stalker, she felt she had said too much about her personal life and published too many photos.
6) Don’t victimise people and don’t pile in with pack mentality. I saw an exchange the other day where I could have contributed. But why? Not my blog, and the blog author was perfectly in control. If you want to join in, do it to support someone, but not to hurt someone.
7) If someone annoys you either by email or on your blog, wait before you reply. I usually wait 24 hours or so (when I’m really annoyed). If I think the same way the following day – and – I think it needs a reply, then I’ll write.
A total side point, but apparently this strange blog he wrote was meant to be feminist, as were his high priestesses. People have crazy ideas about feminism, but unless you seriously have a grip on it, don’t go there. I never saw anything remotely feminist, but maybe I didn’t hang around long enough.
I don’t need to say any of this to my readers because you won’t get into any of these situations. But I was saddened to read that someone had been courageous enough to post a different viewpoint of a supposedly popular blogger, no – supposedly is wrong – he was, and then to receive a load of grief and stress for doing so. She received emails from other women citing the same behaviour, who didn’t want to comment on her blog because they were too frightened to agree in public.
On the other hand, some people – ie women – have written blog posts about his behaviour to them, and how they felt about having been on the receiving end of similar tactics. Does he merit all this attention?
No. But the principles, values and ethics, or lack of them in this case, do matter.