Who are these people?
They can range from professionals such as doctors, teachers, business owners and principals, to the mommy bloggers that are simply trying to help others have a good day and offer parenting tips that may assist them in making life easier — or giving a good recipe.
Most were raised with the old cliché “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all” however it seems that when it come to cyberspace – all bets are off.
Fact is, many people that have been in business or have had a career for any length of time will never please everyone. Does that give someone a right to defame, slander, insult or send cyber-bullets online?
Initially when I first released my book, co-authored by one of our country’s leading Internet attorney, the late John Dozier, Jr., I was asked by people to speak about this issue – and how I survived it. For those that are victims of this – they know the difficulties we go through — the isolation, feeling fearful, not knowing who to trust, not to mention now I am risking my story on the world-wide-web and I literally picked up more trolls from my vindication.
I think some trolls believed my victory was a chill to the first amendment – on the contrary – it was a statement that the first amendment doesn’t condone defamation.
With that I was hesitant but I agreed to talk shows and after every appearance I was bombarded with so many messages and emails. I soon realized adult bullying and cyberbullying is an epidemic – I was far from the only person that this happens to.
In reality, I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to fight back legally and was introduced to Michael Fertik at Reputation.com (formerly ReputationDefender) shortly after my legal victory in 2006.
Here we are today, almost 7 years later, and people now understand that your online reputation is critical to almost everything you want to do in your life. Maintaining it is a priority – always! Reputation.com is a perfect example of this too – I am still their client today, back in 2006, they had a handful of employees – today they are probably one of the largest reputation management companies (definitely the pioneer) – not to mention there are many companies today to choose from. Years ago, I don’t think this type of business even existed.
Today I talk to parents about being the role model – lead by example online (of course off-line too). I am blown away by what some parents post on Facebook or send out on Twitter. Do they think their kids are not watching?
When parents cyber-gossip, do they assume their children are not reading their comments, Tweets and viewing their photos? Let’s face it, parents will monitor their kid’s social media and kid’s in turn, will snoop on their parents.
I like to use another analogy. If a teen driver is watching their parent text and drive, the parent will usually give the reason that they are a more experienced driver. To a teenager, with a mind that is not mature enough to comprehend this, they will most likely believe they are a good “enough” drive to send a quick text or read a quick text too.
Back to the beginning of this post, I want to address all the people that email me and contact me. I try to answer all the emails I receive. I am grateful my story has given you hope – and I wish I could do more for some of you. The most important piece of advice I give always is never to engage with these those that are making your life ugly.
It is not as easy as it sounds. It also means asking your friends and family not to defend you online- because no matter what anyone says, you will never convince an Internet troll they are wrong about you. Sadly the more you engage with them, the more they are winning.
We hear so much about teens and cyber bullying – it is simply tragic. I am not diminishing the importance of that topic, however I do wish the media would turn to the many adults that are losing their careers, jobs, businesses, friends, family, relationships, and I can only imagine how many adult suicides are committed over postings online (cyber bullying or stalking) – or even a Catfish situation. We just don’t hear about it like we do with the kids. Again, I am not diminishing the fact the kids are so important to hear about – but let’s get the full story so we can see that this is such a epidemic that we need laws in place – especially the CDA of 1996 to finally be caught to the wild web of today.
Let’s remember there are many adults that are being targeted, and as school is opening we will actually see parent bullying. Whether it is about a child not making a cheer-leading team or competitive PTA/O moms, adults need to remember — Kindness counts and our kids are watching us — online and off. If you are gossiping in your kitchen, chances are good your teen will be taking it to the web. Keep your conversations constructive. Always find the positive even in negative situations. Make it a habit to find a SMILE each day.
Are you a victim of e-venge? Read Google Bomb. I think you will find that you are not alone and also some great tips and resources.