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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Judgement And Online Hate

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Hello hello hello! I've had this post ready to publish for quite a few weeks now, but I've been wondering whether or not to post it, I've hovered over the 'publish' button for far too long. I've decided to go for it only after reading my friend Victoria, from InTheFrow's post about how much words can hurt, (sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me is such an old school saying and emotional abuse/abuse via words is just as bad and damaging as physical abuse). The wonderful Victoria talks more eloquently about further things on the subject so please open that up and have a read too. Without her posting that, I wouldn't have ever published this. I guess the real reason I've been so indecisive when writing this post in the first place and then clicking publish is because as the saying goes ‘don’t feed the trolls'. Online 'trolls' absolutely live for attention, they thrive off it and it only makes them feel like they're achieving something. Let's be honest, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, you could censor your whole life and someone will still find something negative to say online. Rather than ‘feeding the trolls’ then, I guess today my post will be all about a darker side of the internet and breaking this down a little. Let’s discuss.
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Throughout my life, I’ve always been judged. I could write a book on it. From the ladies in the street who’d roll their eyes at me because I was wearing a short skirt or the bullies at school who’d be offended that I was wearing a crop top and those who laughed and laughed at me for starting this very blog. From members of my own family, so-called friends and strangers in the street. I get it, people in life judge. I judge, it's human nature. I'm aware of how less I judge now though, after the last few years, so much has happened and I’ve realised you really just cannot and should not ever judge anyone. It's cliche but as the saying goes, never judge someone, you don’t know their story and you certainly don't know what battles they are facing. I’ve been very fortunate that I have built such a wonderful audience, an audience who don’t write nasty comments and actually, quite the opposite: constantly supportive, kind and just understanding, plus they come to my defense. I truly love each and every one of you. I also accept, that of course, not everyone is going to like you. For whatever reason, it's just not the way life works. One of the comments I'm asked most frequently is: how do you deal with internet trolling? My answer has always been, well, it says more about those people than it does about me so it doesn't really bother me but also, I've been fortunate not to get much of it. I guess it's because I'm quite new to regular YouTube uploads (although if you could click here and subscribe it would make my absolute day) and these nasty comments tend to be on YouTube or on sponsored Facebook ads (the latter, I'll definitely stay away from in future haha).

It was only a few weeks ago, when an advert I was invited to take part in went live on Facebook, that the trolling began. Keep in mind, this is a brand I absolutely ADORE. I was so excited and honored to be working on this with them. I'd like to start by saying the kind of people who troll on Facebook are a totally different breed of people, to put it politely. I know people online with bigger followings get this daily and I honestly have no idea how they cope, apart from blocking (but as everyone knows, if you block those people it seems to fuel some of them more, with some continuing to make new accounts, it's absolutely mad). This isn't just about me, as I said, I feel fortunate, this is more on a whole, based on some of the awful comments I've seen written about my peers online. May I add,  wonderful, hardworking people who do not deserve to randomly be attacked day in day out.

Now, I’m not writing this because the trolls have won (they haven’t) I guess I’m writing this to help any of you guys struggling but also show how insignificant strangers opinions are and break down those opinions to show you that it says more about them than it does about you, so if you are the target of online abuse, hit the block button, try not to take it to heart, shut your laptop and go and spend time with real people around you who love you. There is a real life outside of the internet, with fresh air and wonderful people. Whilst the internet can be SO positive, it can be really dark too. You don't need to have millions of followers to be someone who gets abuse online, I think you're open to it just by simply having an account anywhere online. I know it's hard to step away from hate but sometimes you've just gotta close your laptop.

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Let’s go back in time. A number of bloggers/YouTubers discovered an forum online, full of hate. Women (and I’m sure some men too) sit and write the most vile comments, analysing everything about bloggers, (bloggers they don’t know may I add), from their weight, to their home addresses. I wouldn't be human if I said it didn't initially upset me. It upset me at first but then the people behind the forum got exposed and now, it doesn’t hurt me one little bit. I know the kind of people behind those forums, the kind of people who sit at home on a Saturday night tapping away. I looked at every single one of them and I felt bad for them. What made me more sad, is some of the people on there are grown women I've met briefly, with children, who should know better. I don’t hate them, I feel really sorry for them. It’s not a very nice life to lead and I’d happily sit and chat through it over a coffee with any of them, I'd love to really tell them about what I've been through in my life and maybe even help them. Who knows.

It’s true, what Susie says about Sally says more about Susie than it says about Sally. You have to laugh at some of the comments because they are just so hilariously untrue, things like saying I have a sugar daddy because there's no way I can afford to stay in the hotels I stay in, I didn't ever put my boyfriend online (because he never wanted to be online) so I was obviously hiding a 'sponsor' who was paying for everything for me. Little do these people know, I've worked since I was 15 and saved and saved, to ensure that I never have to rely on a man. I've seen so much destruction. Then the people who assumed I'd had botox, used sunbeds and all of this other random stuff. I used to be so nervous to see what these strangers were typing but then I blocked the forum and realised, these are strangers making assumptions about someone they don't even know on a Saturday night when they have children... It's so sad. The people who truly know you, know the real you and don't have to sit there making rumours up or gossiping. You've really got to laugh it off, particularly because it all couldn't be any further from the truth.

I guess maybe we are to blame, for choosing what we put online, we don't always put the down days and I've only touched a tiny surface of what's gone on in my life, but that's because it's too raw and I don't feel like I should have to air everything to the world. I'll do it when I'm ready and if people want to wrongly judge, they can. It's one of those things, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. You really could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the bowl and there'd still be someone who doesn't like peaches. Read: Is social media dangerous? 

Rational Em knows that nasty comments online mean absolutely nothing, usually written by unhappy people with a chip on their shoulder about something and they take it out on you. I know I keep saying it, but I honestly feel sorry for them. I want to sit with a piece of cake and talk them through it.  I really think the world needs more kindness.

Recent comments:

I thought I’d go through some of the more tame recent comments I’ve received recently (as I said, on the whole I am very very lucky to have such wonderful commentors and most of these are from the horrible Facebook ad), so you can read it, I can discuss it and you can tell me, would you say this to your children? or your mother? The worrying thing is, the people writing these comments are usually parents, double my age. Even if a 15 year old school girl was writing this, it would be wrong, but these people on the recent advert are grown adults. How would your employer feel if these messages were sent to them? Everything you put online is traceable and I guess that's the scary thing, police are taking this kind of stuff so seriously now, you might think making a nasty comment is okay but actually, police have full teams dealing with these kinds of people now, people are getting sacked for online trolling and rightly so, just be a nice person and get on with your own life rather than trying to break someone down, someone you don't even know.

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‘You don’t do anything for anyone else’ - ‘You should do a job that helps others’

The above is from a 30 second clip of me. Whilst it isn't really nasty, it's just someone jumping to a conclusion and judging my character, from 30 SECONDS... You’ve got to laugh that someone would jump to this assumption from a 30 second clip. It seems to me that no matter how much good you do in the world, someone is going to judge you from a quick clip and assume you’re a toxic person who does no good. Remember, just because someone puts parts of their life on the internet, it doesn’t mean you have 1. A right to judge them 2. A right to assume you know everything about them. I get it though, it's normal to judge but to think it is bad enough, let alone type some of the things out that people put online. I’ve only touched on the charity work I’ve done very briefly, from fear that if I touch on it too much, people will attack me and say I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. But seriously, those closest to me know I do thousands of pounds worth of fundraising every month for three charities very close to my heart (POTS, Behind Closed Doors for domestic abuse and Mental Health UK). I only really talk about my charity work in the hopes that it’ll inspire others to do similar and also, raise awareness for those charities and people still regularly comment on my videos telling me I should consider giving stuff to charity, I'm already ten steps ahead with that one haha. I do also appreciate that not everyone understands the new wave of social media jobs, which is why I wrote this blog post: blogging as a full time career? 

‘You’re a blonde bimbo’ ‘Hate her’ - These really reminded me of comments from high school, the kind of people who decide they hate you when they don’t even know you and the judgment. Why do people think they can judge your intelligence by how you look? That's very 2010 haha. Someone can love the newest lipstick and say ‘pastels are on point’ but still be intelligent... Let’s forget the fact that I’ve got a degree from one of the UK's top Universities (and North Americas too!), but I’m obviously a bimbo because I wear make up and have blonde hair. Seriously though, some of the most successful and intelligent people in the world don’t even have degrees, so you really cannot judge anyone. I guess this all goes back to the same thing: you just cannot judge anyone. The whole 'hate her' thing, tagging friends on a video and saying you hate someone you don't even know is just a bit bizarre. I did a poll on Instagram recently where I said 'do you like me', it was a joke (obviously) because of course the majority of people who follow me on there don't know me to dislike me/like me. Some people got really offended when they saw I could see their responses, sending me threatening private messages. The online world is madness, I'm telling you!

‘Get your roots done’ ‘Your hair looks crap’ - This comment really made my day. I didn't find it offensive in the slightest, just funny because it makes me laugh so much when people use your appearance as a way to insult you. I personally love my hair colour and particularly on that video, I’d only had it recolored a week before so shows how much the guy who commented knows haha. It’s really worrying when grown men comment on your hair as a way to insult you. You’ve gotta laugh it off. I love my hair. If someone tries to bring you down (particularly a stranger) for your appearance then it's just a poor way to do it.

‘Just giving you feedback like you would in any job’ - This comment was a really interesting one. I was attacked in a comment and called a hypocrite (for talking about feeling forced to get a new camera on a recent vlog). I was told I should take this feedback on board just like anyone else would in any other job. I think some people on YouTube hide abuse or hate with 'constructive feedback' or 'constructive criticism' and say, 'you're an ugly **** but I like your shoes' type comments 'you're a **** hypocrite I'm unsubscribing why don't you just take this on board'.... people seem to think that because people put their lives on the internet, we deserve and ask for ‘feedback’, and yeh, feedback is fine, it helps me ensure you guys are happy and loving the content but let’s be honest shouting ‘hypocrite’ at some, swearing and delivering stuff in such a way isn't feedback and if it was in a traditional job, you'd be on a warning haha.

There are a lot of other comments I could talk about, these are just a few ones that made me laugh/I wanted to use as an example. I can honestly say, no hate I've received online has upset or hurt me, it obviously can stick in your head for a day or so but you've got to just realise who the people are saying this. I don't have time to do that and I'm sure you don't either. They don't know you, they think they know you. It's never lovely people in the community, it'll be a random account with no photo, or some random on Facebook who just has too much time.

None of these are harmful or even hurtful comments, but I recognise some of the hate some people get is absolutely disgusting which is why I think it's great that police take harassment and online abuse so seriously now. No-one should be sat sending hate to a stranger and I am so glad employers are also cracking down on this.

Moral of the story, if you're a person who does this online, focus on yourself, your life, your career, your child, whatever it is, don’t spend time judging. You can hit your own goals, targets. I work tirelessly every day (as I'm sure you do too) to provide for my family in the future and smash my goals. This comes from years of people telling me I can't do stuff and as a victim and survivor of domestic abuse for over 20 years. I use it as a fire in my belly. If you're having a bad day and want to take it out on someone else, please talk to someone first. Read: 10 things you might need to hear today. Don't ruin someone else's day too by randomly attacking a stranger. Sometimes I think you do have to go through some really bad stuff in life to realise you just can't judge anyone and acknowledge that people really are fighting battles you have no idea about. But as a general rule, we all have absolutely no idea what is going on in other peoples lives so be kind, you could make someone's day just by smiling at them.

People on the internet seem to think they have a right to hide behind a screen and type whatever they want, like that person doesn’t have feelings, you've just gotta realise it really does say a lot more about that person than you and just because people put themselves out on the internet it certainly doesn’t mean that they deserve to be abused or asked for it.

The bottomline? These comments and these people commenting, are trivial. There are bad things going on in the world every single day and we should use our energy to tackle those things (ironic as I've had to write this whole post to get to this point). You are entitled to be upset though by online abuse which is why i'm glad to see people like Victoria talking out about it and see the police cracking down on it. 

If you want to do something good, here are a few charities I’ve been helping and they need your time, energy and donations. They're all close to my heart. If we talk out about things, come together more, we can make a difference. - Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS) can be a life altering and debilitating chronic health condition. Simply standing up can be a challenge for people with PoTS as their body is unable to adjust to gravity. PoTS is characterised by orthostatic intolerance (the development of symptoms when upright that are relieved by lying down). Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, palpitations, sweating, nausea, fainting and dizziness and are associated with an increase in heart rate from the lying to upright position of greater than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate of greater than 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing. - Supports women and men across the Leeds district who have, or are, experiencing domestic abuse. We have an Outreach team which works within the Leeds Domestic Violence Service, supporting people assessed as being at medium/high risk and/or needing help with significant practical issues like housing and civil legal proceedings.  - Mental Health UK works across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to improve the lives of people with mental illness, and to support carers. Together our four founding member organisations, Rethink Mental Illness, Support In Mind Scotland, Hafal, and MindWise have worked for over 40 years to provide services, information, and advice to support anyone affected by mental illness.

Dean Eastmond - My incredible friend Dean Eastmond recently passed away. It still doesn't feel real writing that as he was adamant it would never happen and so was I but his friend has set up a wonderful page where donations go towards his chosen charities and his family. 

We are stronger together: 

We all have the power to make someone's day, do some good in the world, so don't be rude or unneccessarily mean to someone you don't know, take a step back, breathe, chat to someone, we all have our own battles going on. We are stronger together. 

Do leave a comment and let me know your opinions on this topic. Thanks for reading guys.

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Lots of love, Em x

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