Yesterday I made a little oopsie and got the tiniest little taste of Internet hate.
The back story is this: There are bloggers out there who have literally millions of followers (I am not one of them). They make a living blogging, and that is wonderful for them, but the downside to having millions of people read what you write is that everything you say is subject to the criticism of a number of nameless, faceless cynics who will not be pleased, no matter what. They inexplicably continue to read blogs they claim to hate, and repeatedly send nasty-grams to the authors. The bloggers' very success seems to irritate them.
When I was a reporter, this was a frequent occurrence. We received many anonymous phone calls, letters and emails. People swore at us, telling us how moronic we were. We knew it was just bullshit and that the people who did it were hateful, spinless jackasses with too much time on their hands, but it still rattled us and made us angry. We wanted to respond but we didn't, because it was beneath us to do so.
So yesterday I made a mistake. I responded to a derogatory remark that someone made on Twitter against one of the bloggers I read. The blogger is well-known, has many readers and is perfectly capable of defending herself. Yet I decided to "tweet" something derogatory about the person who made the first derogatory remark. This is because I am apparently still in junior high school and am very mature.
Don't ask me why I even decided to get involved. I don't know either of these people, so for me to be throwing my two cents in was pretty pointless. But I'd been fighting with a couple of my Facebook friends earlier in the day about the health care bill (and, in my mind, winning the fight), and I was feeling a false sense of confidence.
Now, because all comments on Twitter are public, after I made my remark, a friend of the person who made the first remark said that I should mind my own business and "quit stalking" the popular blogger. And then the person who'd made the first remark said a couple of things to me, and I said a couple of not-at-all-clever things back, and then it stopped. It was all very juvenile.
I admit it rattled me a little bit. It's weird to think that someone hates you, especially if there's not really a good reason why. And now I think I understand, at least a little bit, what bloggers with large followings deal with all the time. A lot of the bloggers I read have been writing posts about the negative emails and comments they receive. They put themselves out there, writing about deeply personal issues, and someone always responds that they should stop whining or stop writing about their children or stop airing their dirty laundry.
I think I'd just seen too many negative comments by the time this most recent remark reared its ugly head. As far as negative comments go, it was fairly benign, so it wasn't the severity of it that made me respond.
It's easy to say evil things to people on the Internet when your handle is something totally unrelated to who you are (like mine: zeromusings), and no one knows your real name or where you live. I don't know what their motives are for saying hurtful things. Maybe they're just bored. I think it's like when you're in grade school and your mom tells you that Suzy says mean things to you because she doesn't like herself and it makes her feel better about herself when you feel like shit. Except Mom never said "shit."
Anyway, I've decided I don't have the guts to do battle with the likes of these venomous blogger haters. I'll keep my mouth shut and hope my Twitter experience returns to the land of rainbows and sunshine.