Diana forwarded me a post by a knitting blogger/author that she reads, where essentially she tells the tale of a psycho making her life miserable, for no other reason than she has a popular blog. I think she dignified the nut job a little too much by responding as much as she did, but I can understand the desire to try to rationalize and make nice first.
After more than ten years of doing this online thing, I sure can sympathize with her. Even today, there are whackos out there who spend a scary amount of time worrying about what I say, what I think and come up with all kinds or extrapolations about who they think I am. In a way, it makes me sad that people spend so much time defining their lives over stuff like this.
I've tried to make my Web sites less personality driven, because I think the community's personality as a whole is more important. But because you run the joint, you inevitably get more attention for doing the same thing that every other member of your community does in terms of contributing to discussion. That's annoying. Someone inevitably tries to make it about you.
But really, can I be surprised? The Internet has been rolling like that for awhile. Whether it's some attention whoring blogger or narcissistic YouTube poster, a great many "micro celebrities" make it their wish to be the focus. Hell, we've got attention whores even among coaster enthusiasts on the Internet. It's no wonder that there are people who want you to be the focus of whatever it is you care enough about to build a Web site around.
With personal blogs, obviously you want them to be about your personality, and I don't think that's a bad thing. Personality doesn't automatically imply a desire for attention. I write my blog because I like to write. The knitter likes to share stories of knitting as well as her life. (And she's Canadian... honestly, who would fuck with the Canadians? They're among the nicest people I've ever met.) I'm down with that. But what compels a person to harass someone for what she writes about knitting, roller coasters or even basket weaving?
Ten years ago, I would take things personally and become really upset when someone said nasty things to me, typically as an anonymous coward. That's the worst dimension of it, that people hide behind anonymity as if it empowers them in some fashion. (And by the way, you're not really anonymous on the Internet, trust me.) Really, it just defines you as an even more pathetic human being. I may say things people don't like, call people out for bullshit, or whatever, but I always do it as myself with my name on it, and I'm willing to deal with the consequences of that.
Ultimately, all you can do is blow off these people, and avoid dignifying their stupidity with a response. 99.99% of the people you interact with online are pretty solid people. You can't let the other fraction bring you down.
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