A taste of hate

While walking through magical Copenhagen yesterday, I came across some free WiFi and unsurprisingly did a quick check of the trusted email. After scrolling through the usual lot, I encountered three messages (from the same IP address) that had been posted on my blog. I was a little taken aback to say the least. The first was left on my recent post about what I’ve been doing this past half year. The comment read: “This narcissism is suffocating!”. It then appeared the person clicked on a few links, headed over to The Fetch website and finally to its poorly-attended external blog to leave a couple of comments there. Both are included below:

I guess I’ve been lucky as these comments make up less than a handful of negative incidents I’ve experienced online. And compared to all things positive, they’re brilliantly insignificant. So I usually tend to not let things go to heart, especially since I know 99% of the time the commentator has no idea who I actually am and therefore is incapable of a true personal attack. It’s also easy for them to form a judgment of a 2D online profile, charge their emotions and get key happy. It’s harder to criticise someone you may or may not know in person. Therefore, I’m happy to share the comments and my thoughts here as I feel I have nothing to hide and considering the person’s anonymity, communication choices for retort aren’t in abundance!

In light of the “Grow some balls” sign off (and “blows goats” inclusion), I’m taking the person who wrote the comments is male. Unfortunately, I don’t hear many of my female friends and acquaintances say such turn of phrases – but they so should – in a post-feminist fashion! I also take the person isn’t necessary savvy when it comes to home- or business-based connectivity solutions. (Sorry Telstra, but the last time I checked Bigpond wasn’t a competitive ISP!) And finally, I take it they’re Australian and/or based in Australia because of this.

In regards to The Fetch, strategically  yes I’ve leveraged my own name cum “personal brand” for launch and growth. Any level-headed business person would do the same. Especially at seeding stage. When people first went to the landing page to check it out, I wanted transparency to be key, a quick sense of trust established and for people to care. It’s not breakthrough consumer psychology, but interested parties care more about something when they have a higher level of involvement in it. No one has involvement with a brand they’ve never heard of! In terms of the comment moderation follow up – I’ll ignore it as I wasn’t even aware I had it active on The Fetch blog and have never bothered with such things on my personal blog.

But I shall not talk shop anymore so as not to give the misconception what I’m writing is in defence. The commentator was obviously more awry with the fact I wrote the post about what I’ve done of late. I find it alarming and admittedly flattering that someone unbeknown to me, can feel so impassioned and critical upon viewing my words. It seems they were almost threatened by someone daring to write about the results of the projects they’ve worked on in a semi-public forum. Plus, mind you, this blog is appropriately titled “Kate Kendall” so if you do stumble here you are likely to be reading something about or by “Kate Kendall”.

As a brief aside, someone once asked me if I did search optimisation on my own name (after seeing it pop up here and there) so naturally, I then laughed about it and myself in a blog post. You see, things don’t have to be taken so seriously. I actually love being ‘taken the mickey out of‘ – especially when done from a place of love. And contrary to the poster’s opinion, I don’t “have tickets on myself”, I just know what it’s like to stand back quietly without dues for an extended period and have chosen to speak up. I’ve also learnt you can play the popularity game and go on pleasing everyone, only to end up displeasing yourself. If you’re entrepreneurial, it’s natural you’ll put yourself and “name” on the line.

Anyway, I’m always about the learnings…

So without further ado, I would like to propose in neat bullet points of course, actions to do after being negged on the internet!

  • Feel hurt for 10 seconds before whinging to a friend (it’s the Pom way!)
  • Try to look up the IP address to see if you can find some contact details to discuss the commenter’s remark in depth directly (they’ll love this one!). If you can be bothered – do some more digging so you can give them a call!
  • Feel free to delete trolling or spiteful comments from your personal or professional blog. I’m all for free speech but if somewhere is your space – you can choose the vibe you want in it. Ideally, I don’t want this place to drop to the level of YouTube
  • Be comfortable with the real life/digital divide. As much as we’d like to believe, we will never be our online profiles and this is a fantastic thing
  • Don’t dwell on it and let it stop you working towards the bigger picture
  • Use creative aikido. As my half-Japanese friend Eddie Harran highlights: “In aikido, there are no attacks, only defensive moves. One of its mantra is that if someone is coming at you with an attack, you use the momentum of that attack and your budo techniques and transform it into an positive one.”
  • Toughen up – after all it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll! (Not too lame?)
What else do you suggest and have you ever had a similar experience?

Yours truly (with only constructive criticism),

KK

18 thoughts on “A taste of hate

  1. About the question of whether to moderate or not, I remember something Tim Ferris said once, something along the lines, “My blog is like my living room. If you choose to insult me in my living room, good for you but I’m going to kick you out.”

    I’d say your right you don’t owe strangers more than your average run-of-the-mill courtesy.

  2. oh wait this blog is also powered by Kate Kendall… damn it I read a tweet by @katekendall about this blog post…

    i’ve managed to get by without too many personal attacks by blog comments, usually only when i pick on a Google or Apple product do i get the hate mail…

  3. What great transparency in this post. There are many people who will probably remain silent but who will also learn from both your half year update and this experience. They will be better for it.

    Learning to adapt to criticism that is not always constructive is a really difficult, but critical life skill. It happens for bloggers (and politicians) in a very public way, but it happens for all senior leaders, whether in corporate, non-profit, academia or civil service. There is a point for these leaders where one goes from being staff and part of the whinging around the water-cooler to some form of “senior management”. When that happens, the reality that not everyone is going to like you, your style, and especially your decisions is unavoidable. True leaders learn to rise above it and interpret what feedback actually points to an underlying problem and what feedback is just spiteful.

    Remember that you are where you are because there are people who support you. Don’t be afraid to lean on them for perspective – and this goes beyond family and friends to mentors and leaders in your field.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. I take a bit of a different approach. Having had a very similar experience of a rush of vitriol from the 1 IP, I decided to approve all the comments, but not to reply or approve any comments that defended me or engaged with them. It stopped pretty quickly, I guess that kind of hate isn’t fun anymore when you don’t get a reaction – which is what those kinds of comments are all about.

  5. I can’t believe someone would have the gall to tell you to grow some balls and do it in a way that he is completely anonymous and safe behind his little computer. Hypocrisy at its finest.

    Props to you for using your overwhelmingly positive personal brand to further new initiatives that benefit the greater Melbourne (and Sydney) communities.

    And by the way, what is a personal blog for, other than discuss your exploits?

  6. I’ve met a few loonies too. In hindsight I’m glad I’ve not tried to delete comments. I do regret attempting to talk things through with them though, as none proved smart enough to be worth all the effort and extra stress. In my case they were “radicalized vehicular cyclists” waging holy wars upon all who would wear the wrong brand of short socks :)
    It seems other commenters here have reached similar conclusions

  7. Awesome post Kate. I love the part about personal attacks not being personal if they don’t know you, and it’s so true. Our egos are quite happy to react to negative comments and it’s hard to get perspective. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and process through this!

    Harper – interesting approach. I’d be concerned that those who’s comments weren’t approved felt ignored, but that’s my issue :)

    I have had my share of trolls, not so much an attack at me, more my content, and I find these people are quite easy to silence through reasoned responses. Where they attack, there’s usually an obvious loop hole in their argument.

    Of course, in this instance, Mr Youhave Gottobe Kidding hasn’t made anything even closely resembling a contribution that might have a loophole. It’s pure venom. I do wonder what’s happened to him in his life for him to feel the need to communicate in this way with strangers.

    • Yes, I did consider that possibility too, but soon realized most were regular readers or friends jumping in to defend me, so it was a calculated. I have worked a lot in education, and one of the things we teach kids to do in response to an online bully (which is what these commenters are) is to not engage at all – don’t reply. It doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt though!

      • Ah, yes, of course. I neglected to consider that my writings are attacked mostly by people who don’t think for themselves, not bullies. Bullies do need a different approach, for sure.

  8. My social network is defined by who I allow in, and who I don’t! I block with gay abandon anyone who doesnt share my value systems, and keep my community feeling safe & secure.
    Let ‘em troll on their own site I say!

    Keep the IP addy – it will pop up again under a different name with maybe more info ;)

  9. Congratulations Kate. Handled with dignity and aplomb. No need to get into a slinging match with those that choose to waste their time anonymously trolling and trying to bring you down.

    You have much to be proud of and report back to your supporters. Well done.

  10. I once got a hateful comment on a post of mine from a friend and fellow travel blogger. I’d written a friendly, critical piece about something I’d come across on his website and wrote a response. After a bit of cordial online conversation, things got ugly and he ended up writing a hateful comment. Then asked me to please remove it because he regretted it.

    It was definitely a learning experience for me and I appreciate you sharing what happened to you.

  11. I’m glad that you’re self aware enough to take a step back first. It’s not an easy thing to sift through the levels of reaction that lead from the initial registering of stimuli to the eventual reaction. If such vitriol can be hurled at you, then it’s clear that they haven’t got a handle on their own thoughts!

  12. Pingback: Being Strategic About Trolling « Andrew James Whalan

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