This is a bit of a rant, so bear with me.
The other day a friend sent me a link to a couple of blog posts that I found deeply troubling. The blogs and bloggers shall remain nameless. Since I’m talking about blogging etiquette here, linking to them or naming names would be bad manners on my part.
One blogger wrote disparagingly about a woman who was sitting nearby in a public space. A certain aspect of her appearance apparently didn’t meet with the blogger’s approval. Not only did she write about this woman in a negative way based on something purely superficial, her readers joined in. The comment section was full of mean-spirited comments and the written equivalent of laughter about the other woman and the way she looked – a woman, by the way, that none of the commenters had actually seen. Only one commenter had the guts to call them on this bitchy, hurtful behavior. We used to call it ‘picking on’ someone. It’s also called bullying. Whatever you call it, it’s despicable. They were picking on someone who didn’t even know she was being written about – who didn’t have the chance to respond or fight back.
The other blogger published a photo of herself with a very heavy set person (facing away from the camera) prominently in the background. She invited her readers to give the post a caption. For the moment, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume her intention was for the title to be about the part of the photo she herself was in. Anyway, her readers did supply titles. Not very nice ones. Most of them – not all – were pertaining to the innocent person in the background of the photo who didn’t even know her picture was being taken. As to my ‘benefit of the doubt’ – the blogger didn’t elect to delete the comments. Or even address them. And I assume she cropped, or didn’t crop, the photo. It’s getting harder and harder to make that ‘benefit of the doubt’ stick, isn’t it? Making fun of someone who can’t fight back is all too easy. It takes no skill, no wit, and certainly no strength of character.
Both bloggers are younger, probably in their early thirties, and are “mommy bloggers.” A different generation than me. Both have children. I can’t help but wonder how they would address this kind of behavior if it was directed against their children? Would they say it’s wrong? Would they be spitting mad if anyone bullied or picked on their children? They would have every right to be. Or, on the other hand, will their children emulate their mothers? After all, parents are role models, aren’t they? What kind of example is being set here?
Do they not realize that what they are doing is wrong? That tearing someone else down to build yourself up is the worst kind of behavior? That there is no excuse for it whatsoever? And all this is being done publicly, on the internet, where anyone can see it, including the innocent victims.
I’ve said this before on this blog: the blogging world is just like the real world. It reminds me of both the good and bad parts of high school. There are kind, funny, talented, generous, compassionate and genuinely good bloggers out there. There are cliques. There is a sort of ‘in crowd.’ There are popularity contests. And apparently there are mean girls (and mean boys, I suppose) who trash those who are ‘different,’ who march to the beat of a different drum, who dare to look and dress in a style that doesn’t meet with their approval, or whose body weight doesn’t conform to their standards.
It’s so disappointing. And, to be honest, it makes me very angry. Even as a kid, I didn’t tolerate that kind of behavior. Thanks to my parents, I knew it was wrong. You would think that as adults, we would be able to leave the need for that kind of petty, pathetic aggression behind. I guess we can use our blogs in any way we choose, but to use a blog as a vehicle to make fun of someone you don’t even know and have never really talked to, simply because you’re bored and want to trash some innocent bystander – well, to my mind, that is beneath contempt. And sadly, it brings out a sort of mob mentality in those who comment.
I expect more from women. We should raise each other up. We should show compassion. We should cheer each other on. And we should show, by our behavior, by the words we choose to write, that bullying of any kind is unacceptable.
I realize I’m preaching to the choir here. Thankfully, my readers and the bloggers I visit are simply not like that.
We all say and do things we regret. But the beauty of writing a blog is that we have the chance to think and edit before we hit ‘publish.’
I love blogging. I guess my love for this medium makes the misuse of it even more shocking to me. And the sad fact that no one stood up for these unknown women, save one person, is very troubling. Maybe I’m naive to expect more of grown women. But I do. They should be deeply ashamed.