Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What to Do When Readers Attack

Sharing your ideas, artwork and writing with millions of strangers may not seem like your idea of fun, but when you author a book, write an article or a blog post that is exactly what you're doing. You are reaching out from your safe place in front of a computer monitor and sending your thoughts and opinions into a vast highway of information.

I've noticed that many of the authors on Church of Christ Women Authors also have blogs, and I know many more people have told me they would like to write one., has one of the best definitions of what a blog is on the Internet. "A blog is a daily pulpit, a collaborative space, a political soapbox, a breaking-news outlet, and a collection of links." It is a place to share "your own private thoughts, and memos to the world (Blogger)." No matter what you blog about, a blog is your place. You control that little piece of cyberspace, and you are free to create to your heart's desire.

However, it is important to know that with blogging comes critics. Writers are not typically novices when it comes to criticism. Professional writers can face rejection on a daily basis, whether from a copy editor, a newspaper editor or some sort of publishing house. These kinds of critics are generally professional and remark solely on your work. Unfortunately, when it comes to blogging, many critics do not follow that same rule of professionalism.

Your blog's critic may find something you wrote offensive. Fortunately, most of these people simply move one. However, there are some people compelled to make snide comments about your work and in some cases you.

My First Blogging Experience

In 2008 I started my blogging journey, and as a new blogger, I looked upon blogging as a way to collect my poetry in one place, and share my love for imagery that is induced by the written word. While I don't believe myself some great thing or equal in ability to Lord Byron, I wanted to share my ideas with the world. I looked forward to reading the few comments I received every other day or so until "anonymous" came along.

For some reason, unknown to me, one of my poems set this anonymous reader off. While I take criticism of my work relatively well, I don't respond well to personal attacks. Unfortunately, my reader figured this out early on. Soon he was leaving personal attacks on my blog several times a day. Every time he left a comment I answered him politely and expressed my point of view. After three days of this "game," I realized this was not working and something had to be done.

It was the last comment that he left that made my decision about my blogging settings. You see, there is a function that requires users to have their comments approved before they are posted. I use it here on Christian Woman Authors, but at the time I didn't want to use it.  I wanted to give readers free discussion that didn't require a moderator, but after anonymous left a lewd comment about me, my mother and best friend, I realized I had no choice. I recommend this setting on all blogs.

Still, you may have to face attackers.

Facing Attackers

It is important to know when facing attackers whether it is in the blogosphere, or on an Amazon book review, that the commentator is not your friend. Most readers do not know you personally and never will. Always remember that when you see ugly remarks.

Commentators may try to coerce you into believing that they are your friend, or act like they have your best interests at heart, but they don't. Do NOT let their words ruin your day, your desire to continue your blog, or your desire to write.

DON'T give them that power over you!

In the last few years I have had a lot of trolls on my Amazon book pages, many like to call me names or make rude comments about my book Humanism: A Christian's Greatest Enemy. (It's no surprise, because it's a polarizing topic.) No matter what they say, I have learned that it is best for me to ignore it -- even if I think talking to them will help. Sadly, it won't -- that's just not how the Internet works.

I must admit that during that three day anonymous nightmare I cried a lot.  I even had a bad dream about being bitten by a snake (something my reader referred to), and I was not too easy to live with. Looking back, I realize this was not beneficial to anyone, least of all me. (I had several article rewrites I had to do at work, and even had an article rejected by a copy editor, because I was so preoccupied with an anonymous person.)

Don't let your attacking reader ruin your day!

I know attacks are painful, and it is okay to feel upset about it for a minute, but then LET it GO!

You have options! While I don't recommend publishing hateful comments on your blog. You do have the option to publish and answer the comments, or just push delete. That choice is yours.

I have published a question left by a reader on another blog when a woman attacked me for writing religious articles on the Internet. I felt like answering her attack showed my readers why I write articles, and what my beliefs are about women writers. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post about it called, Suffer Not a Woman to Teach. So, there are times you may actually decide to post an attack.

You are the Ruler of Your Blog! It is important to remember that you are the "ruler" of your blog, and you should set the example and the tone.

Never answer an attacker with personal attacks. 

Always be calm and reasonable even when defending yourself. You must be the bigger person. If you find that impossible, your best option is to push delete. You don't want to ruin your credibility because of a disgruntled reader! (This is a good idea on Facebook, too.)

Hopefully, you won't have to face personal attacks on your blog. But, the chances are they will come. It only took 300 page views on my first blog to bring out the trolls. Remember your blog and your book is yours, and don't take personal attacks to heart, because you are the ruler of your work!