A brassy look and demeanour can be created for protective reasons. It can be, as it is for me, armour to ward off bullying, both cyber and ‘real’…
Cyber bullying is not merely threats delivered on line; it also includes unwanted messages, unpleasant or overly-sexual comments and anything written deliberately to intimidate another.
Because of my admittedly weak boundaries, I have allowed cyber bullying to take place in my life and on my blog. I have given people the benefit of the doubt. I have seen the reason, however dubious or ‘thin’, as to why they might have written what they wrote. I have sympathised with those lashing out on a bad day, and, most dangerous of all, assumed that I must have provoked the nastiness.
Now? Now I am drawing a firm line in the sand. Bloody good thing too and well overdue.
If my writing triggers something negative, sexual or mean in you, that is your problem and not mine. I am a feisty writer and can be outspoken, but I am not cruel or vicious or prejudiced. Sometimes I adopt a persona, particularly in humorous posts, and use it to explore – often in a scathing or sarcastic way – some of the more ludicrous mind sets we as a species work from. But the clue here – as I suspect most of you realise already – is the word ‘humour’ in the tag or category section. Humour, for me, is often tongue-in-cheek and I am just as likely to rip the piss out of myself as I am of any other section of our diverse society!
I do not expect all readers to agree with everything I write. Of course not: I can vent with the best of them, and can also be deliberately controversial to make people think. But. as I have said before, dear individual reader (male, female or goat), I am not writing FOR or TO you, except in the most general sense of addressing a human (mostly!) audience.
To put it bluntly – and I usually do! – if I write about sex, it is not done to turn YOU on; it is for my own delight. If I write a political piece, it is not to trigger YOUR rage because you support another party (how the hell, I ask you, am I meant to intuit what each individual’s political leanings are, eh?). If I write scathing humour about a topic you, personally, find unamusing, I am not picking on YOU; I am merely expressing my own, admittedly somewhat blokey and, to some, incomprehensible, sense of humour.
I am not targeting you personally, so why do you feel that you have the right to attack me in a personal manner? Fair question, isn’t it?
I think the problem here is that strong opinions do, inevitably, trigger strong responses, often of an overtly emotional variety – and the anonymity of the blogging platform, the fact that we are (for the most part) unknown to the writer, allows us to feel safe about, and justified in, leaving messages which are unpleasant, overtly sexual or downright threatening.
Easy. The blog post triggers an unwanted physical or emotional reaction – and, instead of looking at that, we lash out at the writer who, in all innocence, ’caused’ the uncomfortable feeling. We feel got at, picked upon, marginalised, looked-down-upon, sneered at and provoked.
What we forget is that the writer is unaware of who we are, gives us not a thought when writing his or her piece – and is, for the most part, making generalised points about society and the way it operates. We take personally that which was meant broadly. We mistake the sarcastic scathe of humour for a personalised attack. We assume that comments made in an amusing way inevitably reflect the writer’s bedrock of belief – and were expressed just to annoy us!
I know, as a blogger of some five years’ experience, that things I write will trigger anger from time to time; that some of my posts will be vehemently disagreed with. This is natural and part of the whole freedom of speech element of humanity. I also have to allow for the fact that people have multiple unseen triggers and insecurities hovering beneath the surface and that I may set them off without wishing, or meaning, to.
Most of the comments I receive on posts are lovely – and, even if people do not agree with my point of view, they express this in a civilised manner. Very occasionally, however, words which give me bad vibes slip under the radar: Words which seem to show that the writer has taken serious offence at something I have said and, like a small child in a tantrum, is lashing out to make him-or-herself feel better.
For the first time in my life, I can see the following very clearly: I am not responsible for your emotions when it comes to things I write. I am not a therapist and do not, therefore, have to put up with emotional transference of your ills and hang-ups and the consequent verbal attacks upon me.
I AM responsible for what I write, think and do. I take responsibility for the fact that I can be both forthright and controversial. But I am neither unkind nor insensitive (though some of my alter egos ape both!) – and do not, therefore, expect to be treated with nastiness by people who CHOOSE (and it is a choice) to take what I write personally.
My final point: I have, in the past, allowed worrying comments to remain on my site because I gave the writers the benefit of the doubt – and, in several cases, confused overt bullying with some kind of psychological trauma.
I am no longer prepared to tolerate this kind of thing – and WILL consign any comment I personally am unhappy about, or feel uneasy reading, to the bin.