05 December 2012

Dear Anonymous...


Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment. I know you'll be back to hate-read, so I'll give you something to read when you return.

I enable and enjoy the polite, constructive anonymous comments. I think they add value to a blog. They often enable readers to tell me their story, when they may not feel confident to with their name attached. But when they're hate fuelled, picky, judgemental, and those weird nonsensical spam comments, I, and my other blogging friends could do without them.

You think you have us bloggers all figured out. You think you know us, and therefore have a right to judge. You read one or two blog posts and decide we are greedy, sold out, vain, ugly, bad parents, needy, too fat/too thin, desperate for love, poor spellers, money-hungry, arrogant, or stupid. And you're so quick to offer us your opinion and advice. And those backhanded compliments - they're always welcome. "Don't take this the wrong way, but..." is always the beginning of a sentence that we have faith in. Not.

Your comments can cause us self doubt. They can make us wonder and worry who may be watching from afar, who may be having a sneaky dig at our lifestyles. We wonder when you may pounce next. Your comments can make us feel the need to justify our role as a blogger, and our income, because they are questioning our motives in an industry you probably don't understand. Your comments about our appearance can make us want to stop posting photos of ourselves. Your comments about our heartbreak and personal experiences can make us want to share a little less of ourselves online.

Sometimes your comments make us want to respond to you in the same nasty way you've written to us. Personally, I always respond to a nasty comment, to show that I am resilient. I try to be polite yet assertive. I want you to know that I stand by everything I write on this blog, and have dared to put so much of me out there, which is more than you'll ever do. But your comments do sting, no matter how much Teflon I spray on before pressing publish on each post. That time you told me I may be mentally unstable due to my love of Darren Hayes. When you implied I was racist because I mentioned that someone was from another country. The lack of context you had when I wrote about the Typo retard card, standing up for disability rights. That the time you told me how judgmental I was about homeless people harassing me in NYC. And that time you, kind enough to use a pseudonym, told me it's unrealistic to have love when I have a chronic illness. Those comments stung. You think you had me all figured out. But you don't know me. And if you did, you'd know that everything I write here is carefully considered.

Would your comments have stung any less if you has have put your name to them? I'm not sure - Online comments and activities are certainly good indicators of character, and the vitriol, racism and nastiness on Facebook pages scare me, especially considering people do put their names to their comments. However, I do think it would take as much courage as I have as a blogger for you to put your name to your anonymous nasty comment.

And until you have the courage to put our name to your writing online - be it a blog, or a comment on a blog, your nasty opinion does not matter to me. And if you don't like our blogs, don't read them. Simple.

Blogging is quite often, narcissistic. It's nice receiving praise and lovely comments. It's not to say we can't handle criticism either. We put ourselves out there, so maybe we should expect the criticism that comes with casting our opinion so widely. But should we have to take the nastiness? No. I doubt very much you'd say these things to us in person.

To all those lovely commenters out there - anonymous and with real names and pseudonyms - I thank you. Thank you for reading, enjoying my writing, sharing and returning. Thank you for caring enough to send well wishes. Thank you for the friendships - both online and in person. I particularly thank those of you who have written to me to tell me what a difference I have made to your lives. I really do appreciate your feedback, and I'm so glad I've helped you or made you laugh, cry, think, change your ways, seek help or become more confident. And thank you for going into bat for me when those other anonymous commenters visit.

So Anon, before you tap out your abusive reply, remember that there is someone else reading them on the other side of the screen. Even if comments are moderated, someone has to see them before they're published or not. Also consider how your behaviour is influencing the next generation. There's so much talk about childhood and teenage (online and face to face) bullying, but your online nastiness is just as bad.

And think about this, as a blogging friend said to me: "I don't tolerate douchbags in my real life, so I'm not going to tolerate them in my online life".

Yours in confident, transparent and continuing blogging,




  1. Really powerful post that I think most bloggers will relate to. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Good work Carly.

    I turned one racist comment into an article about racial vilification, the other comment I just never approved.

    I publish pretty much any comment that disagrees with my political opinions, but I draw the line at personally nasty comments.

    Thankfully, so far really only two, as above. I count myself very lucky!

  3. Just a point about people not saying mean things in person- if you were to put photos of yourself all over your workplace, and wrote all over the walls what you were doing, people may. There IS a difference between online and 'real life' but there's also a difference between public and private. The Internet has both public and private to an extent, and your blog is wide open for people to see. People you don't know. Yeah, some people get too hung up on staying around and simply being mean. But some anon comments are people voicing their honest opinion. If you don't like it, get out of the public space. Make your blog private, or only let people you know comment. But don't take the praise of strangers without taking the negative, and don't plaster your life around a public, although virtual, space and complain when you don't get the response you want.

    1. There's a difference between being mean and offering criticism. Your comment shows that you either didn't read the blog, you have a biase or preconceived agenda you are opportunistically expressing or simply your comprehension skills are not very good. My annoyance with anonymous complainers is thus and your comment is an example. If you don't have anything constructive to add, your just wasting space and seeking narcissistic ego fulfilment.

    2. Lol * you're. - sorry

    3. Actually there was plenty on comprehension and a desire to be constructive, in addition to voicing a personal opinion in a public forum. Narcissistic? Nothing of the sought.

    4. I can understand what the original commenter is saying, as bloggers we do put ourselves on the internet and of course this opens us up to interacting with far more people than we normally would in day to day life, but having said that - people need to remember that we probably blog about 30% (if that!) of our lives and we are indeed real people, with real feelings.

      Carly seems to take criticism better than many of us, myself included. To blog you need to have relatively thick skin but that doesn't mean that hearing hurtful things is going to be any easier.

      There is a difference to criticism and pure nastiness and many anonymous posters seem to forget where to draw the line unfortunately.

    5. I'm the original commenter- I don't condone purely nasty comments or any specific comments Carly mentioned. I was referring to the issue more broadly, and for bloggers in general. As I said, I was referring to the idea that people wouldn't say certain things in 'real life'. So when I was saying if YOU did this or that YOU should expect this or that I was referring to people online in general, not Carly specifically.

    6. To the original commenter - I don't think a comparison can be made with a public but personal blog and writing all over your workplace's walls. In the example you've given, you're forcing people to see your face and read your words because you're imposing yourself onto your colleagues in a space you all share. Carly (and bloggers generally) don't do that - we write what we write and post what we post in our own little space on the internet, and people have the choice to enter that space or not. There is no element of force or coercion, so there's really no excuse to write nasty comments, if people don't like it they just don't have to visit.

    7. My blog and my workplace are completely different places, and for most bloggers, that's the case. I don't think you can compare writing on a blog to writing on the physical walls of your workplace.
      However, as a communicator and events planner for my day job, I also receive direct feedback about my work - some praise and also criticism. The workplace does protect employees from the nasty criticism/attacks received - there's not many ave he's of protection for bloggers and writers. Fair enough it's our choice to out our opinions out there but I don't think it's justified to believe we should expect nastiness - in particular, when many of our opinions we put out on our blog are far from nasty.

    8. As I said, I wasn't condoning nasty comments. I was making the point that if you hold opinions/have experiences you don't want others to comment on- keep them private. Once out in public they become part of a dialogue. I just dislike when people want the positive but won't except the negative. I work in a field where individuals pour their heart and soul into works that are made for public consumption, and it's a double edged sword. We need to remember that while some comments are nasty and unnecessary, often people are coming from their own perspective and feel strongly and genuinely about what they say. By creating a public dialogue we give people that right.
      And when people say don't read a blog if you don't like it- it's very possible to like most posts and then read one that you disagree with. That's when many people comment in what may be seen as a negative way, without disliking the whole blog or blogger.

    9. Just pointing out that interpretations are subjective, and not all comments that aren't praise or agreeable are malicious or unnecessary. Those that are are not acceptable, but when we receive negative (not malicious) feedback after publicising our thoughts/opinions, we should accept it's a part of the dialogue. Whether it changes our perspectives, angers us, strengthens our own convictions- if it comes from a genuine place we have to respect their right to feel that way. For a final time- NOT referring to nasty comments, rather comments that challenge the opinion of the blog post/article or whatever it may be. There can be mutual respect with conflicting ideals.

  4. "standing ovation" ! Well written could not agree more. x

  5. Beautifully written and well handled.

  6. Hi Carly I've been reading your blog for a long time now - and this is first time I've felt compelled to post. I firmly believe in not posting anything that I wouldn't be prepared to say to the person concerned face to face. It is so cowardly! There's nothing wrong with criticism or disagreement - but it should never be personal or nasty. Of course you have to be prepared to take both the positive and negative when you put yourself out there - but it should never stoop to some of the vitriolic comments I have seen posted around the internet.
    PS I used to work on the same floor as you about 3 years ago - and have become a great fan and admirer of your blog, facebook and twitter posts. Keep up the great work!

  7. Great post Carly!! Really well written xx

  8. Love your blog Carly. You are such an inspiration. I love your bravery I love that you do not censor who you are when you blog - you let us see the real you a full multifaceted person with real emotions and responses to life's situations. Ignore the haters, you don't have to respond to them, you don't have anything to prove. If they really had the passion and conviction behind what they were saying, they'd write a blog themselves. They're not interested in engaging discussion, they just want attention - I always have had a suspicion that the hate commenters that are so fiercely vocal online probably can't find people in real life that will patiently let them spew their crap :)


  9. Well written Carly. A little more courtesy and consideration for others, online as well as off, would make the world a better place.

  10. Wonderful post. Love your blog.
    I can't believe people do this. I will never understand what a person gets out of putting another person down, or hurting them with their words.
    I get not everyone gets along, what I don't get is if you don't like a persons blog, why read it? Honestly it baffles me!

  11. Brilliant Carly. I heartily agree with everything you have written.

  12. You show 'em.

    (Also this is the same Georgie @ heartdrops.org, I just moved my blog. xD)

  13. As always Carly your words are written with such beautiful open honesty.Thats why so many of us keep coming back.
    Your warmth and raw honesty are refreshing.
    I have been reading your blog for a long time now and have always admired how you respond to the nasties with such grace.
    Never have you taken yourself down to their level.
    I hope you feel so proud of that fact.
    My parents always said what you have said...if you cant say something nice then don't say anything at all.
    Such a simple kind rule to live by.
    I have commented and supported here and on other blogs and then the anonymous nasties have turned on me.
    I now believe whatever we say to them will not change their way as they have a goal to be negative and don't care if they hurt or discourage anyone.
    They need to find it in themselves to be strong enough to admit what they do is so wrong and want to change.
    I find it better to feel sorry for them as they must have such cold,lonely and empty lives.Why else would they be reading something they hate or disagree with.
    Thankyou for this respectful post and to all the anonymous
    who respond with negative words...it is never too late to become a better person.
    It is so much easier to be kind.You will feel so good when you respond with positive words instead of negative and I hope you find it in your heart to give it a try.
    Keep up the great work Carly.
    You are a wonderful inspiration to so many.xx

  14. Social media although an amazing community and I totally appreciate we cannot all get on and agree because such is life , the hiding behind an anon which I also to an extent understand us not a carte Blanche to be hurtful, bullying and vindictive. Be strong beautiful xxx


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