10 October 2015

The occupational hazards of being a blogger. On snark.

Yesterday I found myself the subject of nastiness on a snark site. It's happened to me a few times, but these words have been the most biting, making me question myself, even though I know none of it is true! Reading this stuff punches you in the guts. It makes you question yourself - your writing, your intent, your worth. It makes you censor yourself a little. And even though the discussion about me was only a few paragraphs, I've sadly focused on that over all of the good things people have said. I'm not perfect, and I know I'm outspoken and assertive at times - I've had to be. There are writing styles, behaviours and opinions I am not a fan of too. 

The thing is, when someone criticises 'your work' and justifies it that they weren't criticising you, they're wrong. Because work that is about you (and other issues), that you spend a lot of time on and that you're proud of is YOU.

This snark/trolling behaviour is often kept quiet - but it happens to many of us frequently. Recently, a few bloggers I know have written about their experiences. People behind these anonymous profiles often have no idea about what else is going on in a blogger's life, or how their words will impact them. And they believe their criticism will help the blogger improve. 

I challenge you to tell someone how awesome they are - so that's what they'll remember about today. Spreading love feels much better than spreading hate. 

Perhaps I shouldn't give the snarker more airtime, but it made me feel better to write a response, and use my own space to address them. 

This is what someone wrote about me:

"Surprised to read the praise of Carly in this thread. I think she's one of the most narcissistic writers I've ever come across. She has no time for any opinion but her own and is as judgemental as all get out. Perhaps she gets a disability pass? I don't get it. Her writing isn't any good and all she does is self promote – she clearly sees a career path in being a OMG special snowflake public speaker for disability rights. Except she's lacking the intellectual rigour of someone like Stella Young and she's as boring as batshit.

Nope. everything she does is for self promotion. She's into anything that gets her head up there as the poster girl. Including that meet up – if you go back through her blog there are online support groups and camps that she attended for years. This was an exercise in "I'm awesome look at meeeeeeee"

She doesn't take sponsorship, but she takes paid speaking gigs and that's her endgame. TV exposure, writing for DiVine and the public displays. They are calculated and I wouldn't mind that if she wrote at a level beyond that of a sixth grader or articulated an intelligent intellectual debate around disability in this country (ie: Stella Young). But she doesn't – it's all Carly, all the time.

Happy to politely disagree, but IMHO she's one of the most self serving bloggers out there and she uses her disability and the disability community to self promote and boost her profile; which I think is just as disgusting as using "Red Balloons for Ryan" or pimping out your kids."

And here's my response to them:

My blog has indeed boosted my profile. Sometimes I pinch myself, wondering is this really my life. It was always my goal to get into the media as a news journalist or documentary producer - I never intended or expected to be telling own my story in the media. I'm glad I have though, because it's done wonders for my once fragile self esteem, given me amazing opportunities and has helped others with Ichthyosis, other facial differences and disabilities feel less alone. I've made many close friends and learnt so much about disability. And it's nice to receive a little play money from my writing and speaking - it helps to save for the wedding and holidays. Click away if you hate it so much.

The Ichthyosis meet was certainly not all about me - 75 attended and 25 of those were affected by the condition. I did the bulk of the organising though. I can't speak for the attendees, but for me, the meet was long overdue, and has put me in touch with wonderful people around Australia. I only attended one support group's camps, and for those I was an adult mentor. Of course I wasn't able to post pics or details of the members on my blog - that would have breached privacy. I link to online support groups - not all that I'm involved in - so others with Ichthyosis can access them. 

I used to be on community TV (unpaid), very few watched the show. Glad you watched though! I do a few paid speaking gigs a year but I can't quit my day job to survive on speaking gigs! I haven't written for DiVine for years - and the editorial guidelines meant writing was simplified significantly - which might explain me supposedly writing like a sixth grader. I write for other publications now - you might have seen my byline on Fairfax news sites. My writing style is generally simple though. 

You mentioned Stella Young a couple of times - she was a friend of mine and I admire and reference her work a lot. She's one of the smartest people I know, and taught me so much about disability politics and pride. I could never compete or compare myself with her.

I'd love to explore Australian disability policy in my writing (for example, funding, the NDIS, abuse in care) but working as a public servant prevents me. I also don't have the time - working full time, boosting my ridiculously inflated profile and planning a wedding, plus managing my condition means I can't write it all. I do write a lot about disability media and the issues around exploitation of people with disabilities. I even wrote about disability poster children - interviewing people who have been involved in disability charity advertising, funny you should mention it. 

Being seen as narcissistic is always something I'm concerned about (and hope to avoid), and I hope to always share others' opinions where I can. But my blog is mostly my story. I expect since you last read my blog, you haven't seen that it's moved from a personal diary to more op-ed pieces - and most of these feature more than just my opinion in them. On the front page of my blog at the moment, there are three posts that are not "all Carly, all the time" - including a guest post. There are also many links to other bloggers and opinions throughout. In May I give up my blog for others to guest post - last May there were 46 posts from people other than me. I paid others to edit them, even. And even if it was all of me - that's what a personal blog affords. Bloggers can make a blog all about them, or not. And I'm sure you'll agree, it's better someone with a disability writing or speaking about disability issues (and being paid to) than someone without. Happy to be just one of many people in the disability community doing this. Why do you think people with disabilities telling their stories is disgusting? Is it because you're uncomfortable seeing us in a public arena, being paid for our lived experiences? 

I'd love to see your writing on disability debate - do something productive with your time instead of whinging about me. Since when was politeness tearing down someone you don't (or do?) know on a snark site? A special snowflake is the last thing I want to be. I hope you're only referring to the way my skin falls when I get undressed - just like snowflakes.

I'm going to enjoy this day - make it all about Carly. Because it's been a shit week, even without your words, and I deserve it.

And I won't stop writing. 


  1. I do not see how you are narcissistic. I believe that your story is empowering and worth telling. More power to you, Carly.

  2. I don't think you're narcissistic at all!

    There are so many blogs I don't like so I don't read them ;-)

  3. Wow.. I'm a little lost for words. I am actually so thankful to have connected to you through SM. I have been living ignorantly to many conditions & disabilities and stories and people behind them. Without knowing you I would highly likely be living in oblivion land and not had the opportunity to widen my brain to my what exists outside my own world of health and well being. You have raised so much awareness to others and their plights and I think you're freaking pretty damn cool in doing so. Good on you Carly. I think they knockers need a dictionary ..... or a mirror to see what narcissistic is. xx

  4. Whoever made these awful comments should get off their backside and create some positive change in their community. But my guess is that they won't and they will leave you to do that, because you do it so damn well XO

  5. Wow. Excellent response. No matter how often I see it, I'm still surprised by the level of some people's self-involvement - where they just can't cope if someone isn't meeting THEIR needs and giving THEM the time that their emotional wounds want (ie, I suspect that your primary 'mistake' was to not give energy galore to this person just because). I've seen you show interest in other people's opinions to the point of correcting yourself on something. I've seen you reaching out to include others in your activities. Sure, you're aiming to advance your career as part of your work - but I don't think that's your sole focus. You've come an incredibly long way from the kid I once knew, and I think you've done heaps in raising awareness AND in helping people with disabilities to see themselves positively.

    1. Thank you so much Naomi. That means a lot. You're right, I do all those things. I want to make people feel important. And I want to advance my career. It's funny (not) how disability self advocates are expected to do it quietly and unpaid, not involving themselves! Ha!

  6. Great response. Such a shame you had to respond in the first place. As you know, I'm being hammered myself at the moment, although thankfully no snark site, as far as I can tell.

  7. What a great riposte to a troll. You go, girl. I have always wondered why people think they need to go to such lengths to put someone else down.

  8. They are just a keyboard warrior !! I have two boys with XLI and was struggling to know what to do next ( i wrote as much on a random site) you added me as a friend and steered me in the right direction 😊i will be forever grateful

  9. There are more posts in that thread by people who enjoy your blog than people who don't like it. In fact, between the two posts you quoted directly was this post:

    "I have to politely disagree. I've been following Carly for a while and she's a blogger who actually gets shit done. I remember when she organised a meet up for people with her skin condition – the first of its kind in Australia and I thought that was pretty cool. She's very engaged and involved with the disability community, she takes no shit and won't be bought off easily like so many other bloggers. At least she's making a difference instead of sitting behind her computer and whining about her condition. She welcomes opinions other than her own and isn't afraid to publish them on her blog. I think other bloggers would do well to take a leaf out of her book, just quietly."

    There will always be people who don't enjoy what you do, no matter what you choose to do. But don't take three comments from a six-page thread that takes place over three years and give them more weight than any positive comments you've gotten over that same amount of time.

  10. I don't think that your writing is all about you at all, but frankly, so what if it was, no one is being forced to read it. That comment is pure nastiness. You have done a lot to raise awareness not just of your condition but of disability as a whole. You have done huge things to help people, including baby Julius. The commenter should ask his family if your blog is all about you.
    As to disability, it is because of things that you have written on your blog that I am unafraid to label my classically autistic son as disabled. It wasn't always that way, but the way that you write about having found your tribe in embracing the disability community inspires me to advocate loud and proud for Boodi as a disabled child. Thank you.

    1. Oh Dani, I love your comment - thank you. I especially love that you're not afraid of disability. You're such a great mum to Boodi.

  11. I find it so sad that this kind of thing is happening, with what seems to be an increasing regularity. All we can do is what you are doing Carly, continue writing and walking our own path in life. That someone doesn't like it says that you are not their flavour and this okay, that they decide to be so scathing about it on a site that seems to revel in tearing people down says way more about them, than about you. Bravo and onward xx


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