s.e.smith has an important and powerful post up at Tiger Beatdown regarding our collective habit of silence about the hate mail bloggers receive. Bolded sentences below are my emphasis.
It’s concerted, focused, and deliberate, the effort to silence people, especially women, but not always, as I can attest, and particularly feminists, though again, not always, as I can attest, online. The readers, the consumers, the fans, may not always notice it because people are silent about it. Because this is the strategy that has been adopted, to not feed the trolls, to grin and bear it, to shut up, to put your best foot forward and rise above it. To open your email, take note of the morning’s contents, and then quickly shuttle them to the appropriate files for future reference or forwarding to the authorities. To check on the server, fix what needs fixing, and move on with your day. To skim the comments to see what needs to be deleted, to know that when you write a post like this one, you will have to delete a lot of heinous and ugly comments, because you want to protect your readers from the sheer, naked, hate that people carry for you. To weigh, carefully, the decision to approve a comment not because there’s a problem with the content, but because you worry that the reader may be stalked by someone who will tell her that she should die for having an opinion. And when it happens to people for the first time, they think they are alone, because they don’t realise how widespread and insidious it is.
All of the bloggers at Tiger Beatdown have received threats, not just in email but in comments, on Twitter, and in other media, and the site itself has been subject to hacking attempts as well. It’s grinding and relentless and we’re told collectively, as a community, to stay silent about it, but I’m not sure that’s the right answer, to remain silent in the face of silencing campaigns designed and calculated to drive us from not just the Internet, but public spaces in general. To compress us into small boxes somewhere and leave us there, to underscore that our kind are not wanted here, there, or anywhere.
Here at HaT we’ve had our threats. We’ve had our cyber-stalkers. We’ve had folks participating here who have later turned out to be not who they said they were. People who write in the same styles as some of those fake personas have written to some of us and included details of our offline lives which we have not revealed online. We are far from alone in experiencing this – I don’t know another female/feminist blogger who has not received at least some hate mail and often far worse. If it’s happening to you, I regretfully welcome you to a club you never expected to join which has a huge and growing membership.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
It’s something I regularly get asked about in person at blogmeets because we are one of the feminist blogs which has addressed this with some frequency, by publicising it when other bloggers do commit the rare event of writing about it and by writing a few things ourselves. It’s one of the reasons that I wrote this post – How I minimise the online abuse I receive – earlier this year.
The technology that gives cyberbullies a virtual bullhorn to swamp you with hate is a two-edged blade: you can use exactly the same technology to block out the bullhorn, to filter their interruptions and interferences, so that you can literally no longer see nor hear them (or at least the worst of them). Once you’ve put an effective barrier between their harassment and yourself, they won’t get a reaction from you, they’ll realise they’re having no effect, and eventually they’ll get bored and move on.
So here is an assortment of technical tips & tricks whereby bloggers can cut down the volume and the repetition coming from this cyberbullying cadre of keyboard jockeys, making the harassment little more than a tiny hiss of background noise instead of an overwhelming flood of spite.
Some bloggers prefer to keep more stuff on the record than I do, as evidence of the harassment. I prefer to just block as much as possible so that I simply don’t even see it. Whichever way handling the threats and hate works best for you is the way you should do it for you. If anybody has any new tips/tricks for blocking undesirable contacts, please do feel free to share.