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4.29.2015

IN BERLIN . . . (A POST ABOUT HATERS)


I didn't get to spend much time in Berlin. Considering I went to Europe in the first place because of Berlin, it seems especially silly, but I landed on Friday and flew out on Saturday, and in between cabs to the airport I only had time for dinner with a favorite expat of mine from New York City, to speak at a conference on surviving vulnerability with your heart intact in this crazy age of the Internet, and to meet an impressively good group of strong, artistic, enthusiastic women and men who managed to pull the impossible and give me a second (or third? fifth?) wind for this blogging shedoodle. I had a box of my books with me and we sold out in under 10 minutes. It was the kind of bleary-eyed experience that feels almost surreal. Probably because I was kiiiiiind of exhausted? But so, so so so happy. I felt happy because of the Internet in Berlin. Like a dream, that's for sure. ;)

It's different world over there on the Euro-net. (I just invented that word.) I joked that it was like time travel over there, but it's true! It's still 2005 over there in their neck of the bloggy woods, and I am so excited to see how everything unfolds for them. I have a sneaking suspicion they might correct for a few of the left turns we took over here as we found our way through. I sure hope so.

My topic was haters. Big fat quotation marks there. "Haaaaaaa-terrrrrs."

I spoke on haters, and now, I'm going to write about them. If you'll pardon some blunt honesty here for a minute. It's long, and it's after the jump. And just a quick note-this is not about artistic critique or less-than-glowing book reviews. Those of course are valid and valuable and I consider myself lucky to have that opportunity. This is about bullying, cruelty, personal insults, and shame mongering. it's about H-A-T-E. Okay. Onward.  


So, my laptop is still broken. This is pertinent information, I promise. So it's broken and I ordered a replacement, and now I am waiting for it. It should be my turn to get a laptop in the mail somewhere around June. Apparently MacBooks are the new cronut. Until then my old laptop is just sad and broken, and I can only ever see the bottom left quadrant of anything at any given time, so whenever I edit photos and with every line that I type, right at the middle point there's this big slice of glitchy pixelated weirdness that I have to work around. It is, like, the biggest metaphor of my life right now, this giant slice down the center of my laptop, because for the last little while it's been making it real hard for me to see the Internet clearly. I'm poking my head around things over here, trying to get a handle on stuff, figuring out how to make things work. Figuring out if things are worth making work in the first place, and if not, what's next? That kind of thing. And I'm waiting on my answer still. It'll come to me one of these days.

So yes. Sometimes it's hard to see around the haters. 

But see, I don't believe in that word though, "haters." I don't. I don't buy it. I have not yet in my lifetime met a single individual who was only capable of hate, and I have a hard time believing that anybody should be disregarded completely just because their words happen to hurt (though, they probably should be), and I also don't believe that anybody, no matter how mean or cruel they may be, is doing anything purely out of "hate." 

But I do believe in weakness. And I do believe in anger. 

I do believe in irritation. I also believe in spite.  

I believe in frustration, too. And sadness. Misguided disappointment. 

I believe in bad decisions. 

And I understand catharsis.

But I don't believe in this "us vs them" bullshit. It's not "Bloggers" vs "Readers," we are all, all of us, "humans." Same team. Duh. If you've been looking at the other people online like they're something to be beaten, well. I think you might be the problem here.

Don't get me wrong, it's super easy to draw the distinction, to make that separation, to classify ourselves as one thing or the other, but we are all exactly the same. Not one of us is innocent of what the other is guilty. We all put out, and we all take in. I've done it. I've read blogs that make me roll my eyes, and I've gone there again with no other reason than to see what they're up to so I can roll my eyes again. It's human nature. I was just talking to my father-in-law about this last night, about how frustrated he is with Facebook because it turns out he is completely against the politics of a lot of his friends but he just can't seem to turn away, even when what he reads makes him red-in-the-face kind of angry and can ruin his whole day. I don't know if he's ever engaged with these "thems" in his life; I do know my sister once engaged with a "them" over a religious disagreement--our aunt--and that both of them walked away feeling completely crappy, swearing they'd never do it again. Anyway, it's there. It happens. We're all in the thick of it. 

But it's this "us vs them" idea, I think, that's feeding this beast, giving an urgency to these opinions that otherwise we'd all know for sure we were not supposed to share. 

"Surely I can't be the only one that thinks this!?" 

That's where it starts. 

"I can't be the only one who thinks this. Who out there agrees with me?!" 

We all do this--not just with the negative things, more often with the good things. I mean, I do it err damn day on this blog! This is how we find our connections, this is how we find our people. It's the "Me, Too" phenomenon. And it's amazing! And you know what, ain't nothing wrong with it if it happens sarcastically. I mean, sometimes *I* attempt this sarcastically, and I always regret when I attempt it sarcastically, and one of these days I will stop attempting things sarcastically, but probably immediately thereafter I will die, because then I will have finally become a perfect person and it will be like unto those characters on Lost who have wrapped up their issues and then suddenly get exploded. (The teacher--remember that one?)

The "Me Too" phenomenon. The problem starts when the "Me Too's" are over things that manners would suggest we should keep to ourselves. The dark side of our thoughts. The "if you can't say something nice" thoughts. That's still a thing, right? Manners? Kindness? Oh good.

"Oh my gosh, I can't believe she did that! I can't wait to see what everyone's saying about it." 

That's what's next. 

Sometimes, we let it get to this stage:

"Here's what *I* think, and I don't care if it's hurtful. I don't care if it's hurtful, and I don't care if it's truthful, it's just what I think, and it's not my fault I think it, it's hers. It's her fault for sharing it. That's on her for even being it in the first place." 

Hatersville, party of us. We wipe our hands clean, right? That's how we get here. We hold no responsibility over our opinions of others' behaviors; that's on them. They don't like what I say? Well then they don't have to do what irritates me. I just can't with her anymore. She is such a c-u-n-t. Her husband must be so sick of her. Someone needs to take her off her damn pedestal. Me. Maybe it should be me that takes her off her damn pedestal.

Last year at Halloween I went to a bookstore and picked up a few Gothic Victorian Halloween-y type classics. Frankenstein, Dracula, a collection of Edgar Allen Poe, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, you get the drift. Jekyll & Hyde was slimmest of the bunch, so obviously I read that one first. You know, a warm up. Sometimes literary pursuits can be jarring to my system. ;) While reading one day, while Huck played at the playground and the world smelled of fireplaces, I had myself an intense emotional discovery.

So now we are going to talk about Jekyll & Hyde. 

Not the restaurant in Times Square, though that place is pretty rad, too.

The way it goes is this. Dr Jekyll is this really great dude. Beloved in his community, he's tall, strong, handsome, broad shouldered, kind. He loves doing good, he loves being good. He is a good, good man. But he also loves sinning. As do we all. He loves reveling in lasciviousness (I love that word). But as much as he loves to go out and sin and carouse all night long, he hates the guilt of it even more. So he devises a way where he can split these two parts of his self into two separate selves, two distinct men, so that he never needs to feel the ramifications of what the other has engaged in. When Jekyll is Jekyll he is good, and when Jekyll is Hyde he is bad. Period. And never the twain shall meet. Once this potion he's created wears off, Hyde resumes his life as his stronger self Dr Jekyll, and Dr Jekyll feels not a single speck of guilt over any of Hyde's decisions. Mission accomplished! 

The story is told from the perspective of a third character, a good friend of Jekyll's, and he describes the first time he sees this Mr Hyde person. Hyde is stooped over; hunched. Gnarled and crooked and deformed, with the face of evil itself. Uncoordinated and weak. 

Over time, as Jekyll spends more evenings out in the skin of Mr Hyde, something starts to change in Dr Jekyll's demeanor. His hair starts to gray, to thin, his muscles start shrink. Age catches up with him quicker, he hobbles a little bit more, his footing becomes unsteady, he needs to rest more frequently. Meanwhile, Hyde is filling out. His posture is straighter, his muscles stronger, his coordination smoother, until one day when the potion wears off and he doesn't revert to Jekyll. Jekyll is no longer his default state, because Hyde has become too strong. His Hyde has eclipsed his Jekyll, and he now needs the potion not to become sinful, but to resume his business and social engagements as the kinder Dr Jekyll.  

I think about this all. the. time. I have assailed myself and this story upon all of my friends. We talk about it at length at our house. I made it the foundation of my presentation at The Hive. 

The thing of it is, we are all filled with the complications of duality. We all feel love, and we all feel hate. We all pass judgement, we all grant forgiveness. We all have engaged, in one form or another, in taunting, teasing, bullying, or criticizing. Many of us have done it online. Once, maybe twice. Maybe accidentally. Some of us do it for sport. 

But what happens when those muscles of cruelty grow too strong? What happens when we shut down our laptops and that cruelty comes with us, no longer trapped between the keys and glowing screen? 

I understand the nature of blogging. Of publishing, of acting, of doing anything in a public arena, really. I understand it. That doesn't mean I am okay with  it. I am not okay with it. And that doesn't mean I've always been able to cope with it. Full stop, I am very new at knowing how to cope with it. In the past, I've done a bad job of it. Like last Christmas. Last Christmas it broke me. In the middle of a lot of online scrutiny, and in the beginning stages of writing this book that I just knew was going to be torn to pieces by those who truly wanted me to suffer, I broke. I broke down. Guys, I was 89 pounds fully clothed that Christmas. I made my aunt cry at my sister's wedding. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't go a full hour without having some kind of panic attack over something ridiculous, the PMDD that was only sort of a pain before all this had suddenly become completely untenable. I literally could not function once the hormonal element hit at the end of my cycle. I was a hollow version of myself. It was bad. I saw doctors, I saw therapists, I saw psychiatrists, I saw specialists. It took a lot of work. I am glad for it though, and I am now a hilariously strong person because of it. I stared into the eye of the most frightened parts of myself and the  most awful people on the Internet, and I decided to become brave. I decided to believe that what they were doing in those forums was not "entertainment," not "critique," and not "justified." I decided to face reality and stop trying to find the good in those that perpetrated it. I had to believe that I was worth more than that, and that none of their garbage about me was true.

And you guys, I am. I now know I am worth way more than that. (And you are, too.) 

What goes on online in certain parts of the Internet is truly, heartbreakingly disgusting. It is wrong

There are a lot of people who want me to hurt. They want me to know, they need me to know, that they are unhappy with me, that I let them down, that I am not what the kinder people among us might say that I am. That I am nothing

I finally realize that has nothing to do with me whatsoever.

Now, I don't like to let people down, just like I don't like to be around people who can't deal with their own emotions and be kind to others anyway. But I want to let all those out there for whom I've proved a disappointment to know this: My failure does not make your cruelty okay.

To those out there who've tried in the past to ruin my career. To those out there who've emailed past sponsors to get my partnerships cancelled (sponsors who all emailed me in return going, like, who ARE these nutballs?), to those who've lobbed hateful words my way, who've left harsh, degrading reviews of me on Amazon--of ME--to you I say this: 

Don't Hyde yourselves, girls! Stand up a little taller! Exercise your muscles of kindness! Become women of substance! Don't let the stooped-over monster of resentment and envy grow so strong that it overpowers the rest of you! Don't let that future sneak up on you, take control of your final selves! Of the Internet's final self! Take control! Make cognitive choices that will lead you where you really want to be. You are the only one who can do that for yourself. Taking me down is highly counter-intuitive!!!

Also. Fuck you.

Sometimes I catch wind of the feeding frenzy that goes on in certain places online any time I do something asinine (often). It doesn't make me angry. It doesn't make me frightened. It doesn't hurt my feelings. It sometimes makes me defensive, and I do wish that it didn't (maybe someday it won't).  It does make me sad. Deeply sad. For all of us. Sadness for those that wrote it, sadness for those that read it. Sadness because it has to feel awful to be in that place where you need to have that kind of sustenance, the kind of sustenance that tears others down in order to make strong. I would so much rather be on this end of that hatred than the other. Carrying that around all day? Guys, this side of things is a much sunnier place to be. 

Story time. 

Once upon a time, I went on GOMI. I did, it was part of my cognitive therapy "homework" if you will. I made myself an account (and I gave myself a horribly inappropriate, darkly-not funny screen name) and I went on and I answered some questions. I defended myself. I apologized for the things that I needed to apologize for (duh, there's plenty--I ain't perfect). And do you know what happened? It changed in there. Suddenly people were kind. They were writing nice things about me. They were rooting for me! I got a ton of nice emails from GOMI users, all of them basically saying, "I read your forum, they be crazy in there." This change lasted a few days, until some of the longer-term users got in there and started harassing everyone who was being nice until eventually all the kindness went away. They said, "Start a SOMI for this! This doesn't belong here!" and then when someone did start up a SOMI for me, those same users went in and bombarded it with gifs until everyone in there gave up, too. 

It was hysterical

That did it. It was a tipping point, and I stopped feeling any curiosity at all about what anybody might have to say about me over there. I had proven my point.

I had won. 

Guys, kindness can win. Even if hatred is louder. 

At The Hive I shared a few things that I want other bloggers to know about online cruelty. They're things I want readers to know, too. Things I think everyone on the Internet should know. They are:

1. It's not normal. We weren't created to withstand this. We shouldn't expect it, we shouldn't stand for it. Nobody should. What you would do if you overheard your child being talked about in this way? Would you think he deserved it? It is not normal you guys. Those who would argue that you're "putting yourself out there," we ALL put ourselves out there. Come on. Imagine someone coming up to you on the street and slugging you in the face. "Your fault, dude. You came outside." Guys, cut that out. Your mom is on Facebook.

2. It's not true. Whatever mistakes you make, whatever nuggets of truth are at the heart of the insult, it's not true. It's not real. You are not the sum total of your parts, the world is not black and white, nobody is all this or all that, it's not real. One person will find your nose highly unattractive and insult you on the Internet for it, another will come up to you after a conference presentation has ended to tell you he thinks you're the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, and then single out your nose as the reason (not kidding). One reader will email to tell you that you've helped her stop cutting herself, that you've given her a glimpse of a future where she can imagine herself being happy, and that you've changed the whole world for her. Another will write that you are hateful and stupid and worth being boycotted. Come on. So take it from me. All those hateful words? They're not true. I promise.

3. It won't ruin you. Noise is not power. Sponsors don't rescind offers. Friends don't turn against you. Family doesn't stop being proud of you. Nobody reads that stuff and thinks "geez I was wrong, she IS terrible!" What they do think, is "what a bunch of nutjobs." I got an email the week my book was published from a blogger who'd also had a book published, and who had similarly been torn to pieces online because of it. "It'll be okay," she said. "It won't ruin you." She told me she'd gotten a similar email from another blogger who'd published a book and had also been torn to bits with a similar message. "It'll be okay. It won't ruin you," she'd said. It was like being the caboose of a long train of encouragement. So let me be the one pass that on right now.

Guys. It'll be okay. It won't ruin you. You still have every reason to feel proud of your accomplishments. It feels like the end of the world, but it isn't. You feel completely alone, but you aren't. You still hold promise. They may try to take good things from you, but your life is not something they can hold. Stay strong. Keep your chin high. Keep on keepin' on.  

Fist bumps, kids.

167 comments:

  1. We are all flawed and that's what makes us beautiful. Well said, lady.

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  2. I had such a conflicted relationship with blogs until I got pregnant and lonely and depressed, and then had a baby and was lonely and depressed, and learned everything I needed to know about raising a baby (except, you know, actually raising a baby) and felt less alone and more connected and more informed and like millions of other women were feeling exactly the way I felt on a daily basis and I would argue, possibly, that these silly "mom blogs" were the only thing that really got me through the day. The only thing I am still very conflicted about is the use of bloggers' kids. I still don't know if I should even be posting pics of my baby on instagram or fb. Is it my right? What about her privacy? I dunno. Just something that I wish bloggers would address more and actually engage in a discussion about. But either way, your blog really has carried me through a lot, and on top of that, its just darn entertaining, so thanks!

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  3. Seriously love this. I've been blogging in some small way or another for almost 15 years, and even with only a few hundred readers, it's insane what people will say about you and then pass it off with the "This is just my opinion, and if it upsets you then that's your fault" line. And then not only do you feel like crap because of whatever they said, but then you feel like extra crap for feeling like you shouldn't be affected by it. You are lovely, and one of the best parts about your writing is that unlike a lot of other bloggers, you don't hide the mistakes and unsureness that come with everyone's life. And you should never have to apologize for or defend that, ever ever.

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  4. Fist bump natalie! Fist bump

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  5. Fist bump natalie! Fist bump

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  6. That needed to be said. Those words needed to be written. Thank you for saying them, for being you, for standing up, keeping going, telling the story. In the universal lies the particular and while these words are yor particular the sentiment is utterly universal.

    Thanks Natalie.

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  7. <3 <3 <3 this. is. truth. I'm really grateful that you wrote this all out, that you braved the racing-heart feelings of getting things off your chest in a constructive way, which can be so, so hard, but is sooooooo good to do. You done good, kid.

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  8. I could say SO many things but instead I'll just say I loved this and thank you and you're my favorite blogger and I plan to keep reading as long as you keep writing.

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  9. I've known you on the internet's for a long time. I've voyeuristically watched you through the years. I've always been a fan. You got this. Good job.

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  10. You are strong and beautiful and a kind heart. You are a friend-in-my-head to an infinite number of women and it will always amaze and sadden me that anyone takes the time to rebut your life with anything but love!

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  11. Beautifully written, thanks for this!

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  12. Yes. YES. This needed to be said. I have never understood why people read blogs just to tear the blogger apart. It's so MEAN and not good for anyone. It just doesnt make anyone feel good to let their worst self out. Thank you for your bravery in addressing it. You are probably scared right now, but you did the right thing. You were brave and you tried to do it as kindly as you could. Way to go!

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  13. I accidentally stumbled onto that horrible site and it made me sick at my stomach. Thanks for being a badass and taking pride in what you do.

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  14. I saw Rachel's comment (thanks, girl!) and it just summed up my feelings so perfectly: I plan to keep reading as long as you keep writing.
    Fist bump, high five, and a gold star for your keen sense of when to let those 4 letter words come out to play.

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  15. You are so brave and good and strong! Love to you.

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  16. Keep shining in the wilderness you wonderful human you!

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  17. Great Post Natalie! More power to you and your hater rants!
    The Pepper Express

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  18. πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ» Bravo!

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  19. I'm so glad you found the strength to overcome all the negativity thrown at you (btw I had no idea, who are these people?!?).
    Also, love the way you broke down Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, totally want to go read it now.

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  20. You rock and I love you for this.

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  21. This is, hands down, my favorite post that you've ever written. Rock on! (PS--that Jekyll and Hyde analogy? Too perfect.)

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  22. Natalie, I am truly in awe at how strong you are. Thank you for sharing all this!! Love from Austria!

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  23. Wow! So well said. I actually applauded out loud in my kitchen at the F.U. You just keep doing you. You do it well.

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  24. YES!!! A big fuck you to meanness and a big clap on the back to you for coming out the other side of it loving and feeling sorry for those meanies while not forgetting how kick-ass you are. As someone who's recently had a come-to-not-Jesus, too, when it comes to the church, I really appreciate that you are being you and refusing to back down on that. It's heartening. Thank you.

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  25. Yes yes and yes. I strongly believe that this sort of behaviour should be made illegal very soon. Let's face it, if you were gay or of an ethnic minority, it already would be classed as a hate crime. The fact that you're a middle class white lady with a husband somehow makes it OK? I personally don't think so. Huge respect to you for finding the strength to hold your head high and carry on. As long as you keep writing I shall keep reading. Fist bumps lady x

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  26. Natalie, this was beautiful and lovely. You are so strong and inspire me every time I read you. For every girl who wants to put you down, there are 20 women who care so much about you. I can't describe how many times my best friend and I text each other to be excited about something for you.

    I hope you'll keep writing for a very long time. You're a star.

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  27. outstanding. your writing is just stunning.

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  28. I think that you are a good writer. But honestly - and I do get what you are saying above - if this is what blogging has done to you, I truly think that you should give it up & find something else. I hear what you're saying and, I really do NOT mean this unkindly, you don't sound as though you've won....you sound as though the damage that's been done might never leave you, that it's changed you. You as though blogging is your life - when really it should only be a part of your life. If comments from strangers you'll never meet has done this to you, why would you continue....nothing, surely, is worth that?

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    1. PS No one else appears to be commenting on the "89 pounds" but that's not something you can get over or fix overnight & here we are just about 4 months later. Put yourself as a person, mother & wife first - blogging/writing should not/does not reduce you to 89 pounds.

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    2. I don't think criticizing someone for being affected by something is really a helpful thing to do. but I will say that I've been having that conversation for the last year or longer, and ending my career as "blogger" so to speak is DEFINITELY on the table. but maybe if you're on a mission to avoid being affected by anything, and if it's someone's fault for being affected negatively by something, you might be up against a bit of a struggle to see or do anything with your life. right?

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    4. It doesn't sound like Simone was actually criticizing you. I dunno, I work in theater, where criticism is par for course, and there's just no escaping it in creative professions (and many others too - imagine what Gloria Steinem or Hillary Clinton's day is like!) Sometimes it's helpful, sometimes it's mean, but for better or for worse, it's there. Hope you're well and happy though!

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    5. well put Jaime. nobody escapes criticism. That is the coin of life.

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    7. I know that this is from forever ago but I'm rereading through some old posts on a slow Friday (and I love this one) and I just have to respond to this:

      "...tere's just no escaping it in creative professions (and many others too - imagine what Gloria Steinem or Hillary Clinton's day is like!) Sometimes it's helpful, sometimes it's mean, but for better or for worse, it's there."

      This is total bullshit and part of the problem. "Too bad, so sad, don't get in the ring if you can't take it." is an inexcusable mentality because that's what encourages this kind of bullying (to bloggers, to political candidates, etc). As if it's somehow okay because they knew it was coming. "Didn't want to get raped? Why'd she wear that dress then?"
      Meanness is never okay. We cannot accept it as a given part of being in the public eye.

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  29. Natalie - you're so right! Trolls, haterz, whatever you want to call them, are angry and misguided and all of that, but it's not about the target, it's about the speaker. The hater really hates him/herself. And to drown out what he/she knows is really self-hatred, he/she has to keep yelling louder and louder. It's awful. I wish people wouldn't do it, and it makes me sad that people who seem as sweet as you do have to deal with it. Check out Episode # 545 of This American Life - there's an act about a Jezebel writer who ended up having a conversation with her biggest troll. For someone who has to deal with that sort of thing, I highly recommend.

    I like what you said about hatred being loud. I'm sure that a tiny percentage of your readership are these hateful trolls, but (at least for a while) they were making the most noise. Please don't listen to them. I've been reading your blog for a few years now, and I've never commented, but I've always loved it. Keep it up, you're doing great!

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  30. Oyy, GOMI is the weirdest place. It's horrible and scary and also...so interesting? It's like an alternate-reality type of place. Sociologists and anthropologists need to study it and the type of people that interact on that site--this blank forum that make people "brave" because all they need is a gravatar and sarcastic user name. Good on you for taking the high road and not looking back. There are better and brighter tomorrows waiting for those who don't give in to that kind of gossip and vitriol. Onward to spring and sunshine and all good things!

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  31. Ok I just spent 5 minutes on GOMI and it was the most depressing (and slightly creepy?) 5 minutes of my life. Like, these people are for real? Did they just read the same post I did? They still don't get it? BITCHES is all I have to say about that. (Also - find a hobby, bitches.)

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  32. I want to just give you a big high five and possibly buy you a cronut for the mass effort that would have taken (emotionally and time wise to write that all down).

    Megan || www.ohheyblog.com

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  34. I have to admit, I discovered your blog through GOMI. I very occasionally look at it when I am bored at work. There was something on there about your blog, and maybe I checked your thread, and I just wondered "who could be deserving of such a beating?" that I had to see for myself. I've been a reader of your blog ever since. Reading that site makes me actually feel bad about myself. Congratulations for standing up for yourself and others.

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    1. I feel the same way about GOMI. It makes me feel bad about myself for reading it.

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  35. Thank you for writing this and good job to you for standing up and speaking out! I've enjoyed reading your blog for the past four years, since I had the "me too phenomenon." You are exactly right with what you said here. It's not normal, it's not okay and it's not true. Whatever it is/was... It is SO not true. You are lovely. So glad you said, Fuck.You. Seriously! Good for you!

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  36. Amazing words, Natalie. Fist bumps!

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  37. Amazing words, Natalie. Fist bumps!

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  38. I am so, so, so, so sorry that there are people out there in the world who want to do nothing but tear others down, and for what? Jealousy usually. They're jealous they don't live your life, or according to what I've just seen during a 5 minutes stint on GOMI (ugh, I can't believe they're getting ad views from me), they're jealous if someone else doesn't have to work and they do; they're jealous if someone is getting married somewhere fancy, apparently; they're jealous that someone can afford to buy clothes that aren't just from F21. Jealous, jealous, jealous. And they let that jealousy and hate spew over and turn them into an ugly version of who they should be. You are so right: If you can't say something nice, just GTFO the internet yourself and don't say anything at all. You are so much above this ugliness.

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  39. on the same wave like you girl! but what is for you an honest critique? I mean something that tells you the goods, the bads and how can you improve? I think is closer to that. Because if there is all praises and praises means that the work was almost perfect. And there is that case. But I think that most humans are far from that. There is the thing about accepting critiques. We all like to be praised, but feel offended the moment someone points out our mistakes, weaknesses, and so. And on this thing I disagree with you, the moment you put something outside your door better to be ready to get opinions at minimum. it is like being a new mom.You get a lot of not wanted advice, lot of directions and opinions. Of course it depends on us to filter the ones that allow us to growth. I say this with good vibes (insert bob Marley music if you want). I agree that there are haters, people who will direct attacks toward the person rather than the product (book, blog, album, etc etc). the thing is how we deal with a critique we dont like it and still are able to see it that was not directed to a personal level. For one instance, bear with me on this one. I dislike Adam Sandler movies. I cannot believe the dude is still doing that, though I understand he needs to pay the bills. The fact that I can say his movies score zero in acting, zero in scrip, zero in cinematography and go on, that doesnt mean I am attacking the dude, but it is his product. I judge him based on his product and what he shows. And now for your case. I bough your book. I read the reviews on amazon before buying it. I noticed that there are some of them that could be considered haters or disrespectful. But overall there were two lines: the ones written by the core fans that are blinded by the love like a mother is for a son (i have a son too) and i bet that ones make you feel flattered ( I would feel the same) and the ones who were expecting more from you and gave suggestions and made good points. in terms of critiques there is so much to learn, we all are on this believe me. i got a paper rejected and it felt bad. and I am taking it as a learning process. critiques are hard to take. our ego is there after all. our heart too when attackers/haters bump us.

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    1. thank you, Carla! I can definitely appreciate a good, fair critique of my work, and don't hesitate at all to take notes and make improvements when I can. i'm always happy with fair, appropriate critique. but I don't agree with your analogy to new moms. I don't think it's acceptable to get unwanted advice, just like I don't think it's acceptable to get unwanted catcalls on the street, just like I don't think it's acceptable to harrass people online and pretend it falls in the category of "artistic critique." but I definitely agree with you on all your other points, and I appreciate you taking the time to leave such a thoughtful note!

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    2. Critique can generally fall into two categories- constructive criticism or just plan old mean and nasty criticism. It's all about the delivery. You can say the same thing, but one way can inspire the person to change and the other way can make a person defensive. From this post, I gathered that you (Nat) weren't suggesting people don't give feedback, but more addressing the way it is done (or at least that's what I thought you were implying)

      That said and done, I think some of the things that have been said to you on the internet Nat are just plain mean and nasty, whichever way it is said.

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    3. Unwanted new mom advice: "hey new mom, you should put socks on your baby. It's only 80 degrees out and his feet might be cold."

      Mean new mom advice: "hey new mom, you should keep that child indoors. Your baby is ugly."

      I think those are the types of comments that she hears. One is okay, the other is being mean to be mean.

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  40. You are. awesome. Best post I've ever read.

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  41. "Don't Hyde yourselves, girls". Perfect! So well put. Thanks for that.

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  42. Beautiful and insightful. Keep on keeping on Natalie! And also, please come to SF! πŸ’œ

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    1. Yes Yes Yes! I second this lady, you are amazing and this post was beautifully-perfectly-imperfect. Hope you get a chance to come to SF!!!

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  43. My heart breaks for you, Natalie. So much hurt in this world and it's sad the energy that is used by so many to just spread the hurt around. Rooting for you!

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  44. Beautiful. I really hope you don't quit blogging because of them. Then they win. On your instagram you said, "I won't let internet bullying win. who's with me?". And I'm with you!!! Quit it if you need to of course, there's only so much one person can take and your health and well being are most important in all of this. But I would really miss your little space on the internet!

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  45. You're the shit, Natalie. Love this post. Love your blog. Love your book. I sure hope you don't quit blogging because of these fools.

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  46. I read you on and off, Natalie, though I've never commented before, and I really respect a lot of what you say here. But it all rings a little hollow and/or bitter when you follow "Taking me down is highly counter-intuitive!!!" and precede "Guys, kindness can win. Even if hatred is louder." with "And also: Fuck. You." I know the haterz won't ruin you - or anyone - but stuff like that makes me wonder if you really do want to keep on keeping on or if you're just not quitting because you think that continuing to blog shows the haterz that you're stronger than they are. I hope you do keep blogging if it does make you happy, but I also want to say there's no shame in stopping if it doesn't.

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    1. thanks Betsy. I won't blog forever, it's true. I have an end point in mind, more so now than ever. the funny thing is--it wouldn't stop either way. that trash will go on. I've seen bloggers shut down due to criticism and I've seen that criticism keep on rolling even without new content. it isn't about me. in that regard i'm fairly powerless. fun, right? I always enjoy hearing the finer details of what I do that people think rings hollow to them. if I could have written "fuck you" in blinking red letters, or had it written in the sky, it still wouldn't encapsulate how little I think of those who'd spew hateful, unfair and unprovoked garbage about others online and fool themselves into thinking it's at all warranted, or part of some artistic process. I believe there is a major distinction between fair criticism and blatant bullying, and I feel pretty confident in my ability to differentiate between the two. thanks for your support and for your thoughtful comment!

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    2. I completely agree, Natalie. There is a huge difference between the two.

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  47. "don't let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace." - dalai lama

    something i remind myself daily!

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  48. Bravo, Natalie! Stay strong. Stay true to your true self. xo

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  49. Love, love, LOVE! Atta girl, Natalie. You inspire me every day.

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  50. I have a bumper sticker that says "Be Kind." Your kindness and real-ness has always shone through here. I love to read your blog.

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  51. you are wonderful. thank you for posting this, it is inspired.

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  52. Thank you for this! You always write such beautiful words, but this is extra encouraging and a good reminder... and not just for internet etiquette, but for life in general. :)

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  54. Oh my gracious I adore your blog more each post. I can hear you roar and I love it! You've really come into something great here, you're a total inspiration for how to get through things and grow in life. I think this crap is perpetuated through our 'reality TV culture' .. Idk ..people are crazy these days! Anyway thanks for sharing your journey as always! Xo

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  55. The thing that always puzzles me about this topic is the sycophant/critic dynamic. If someone criticizes a blogger (any blogger, not just you) then it's 'bullying' and those people are horrible evil and so on but when I scroll through comments I read a lot of just outrageously sycophant comments just gushing about how great you are and how you can do no wrong. I feel kind of sorry for bloggers who have to live between these two extremes because it must be confusing if you are basing your opinion of yourself on outside feedback.

    Blogging is a lot like acting or being an artist in that there is a high level of criticism/rejection and a lot of that is personal. You write about your life so people are going to attack that. On the other hand you have a following that just loves you to death. That dichotomy is enough to mess with anyone's head. It's not healthy, which might be why all bloggers start to get a little weird after being around for a long time. The whole thing is exasperating your emotional/psychological problems.

    Why not quit and find a job in the tangible world? People will always criticize you but at work they do it to your face. I've never had a job where no one ever talked about me or said mean things, that's just a part of life. People are shitty sometimes. The point is to surround yourself with enough support that you can weather the storm. I really think the online world screws with people's heads, everyone either loves you or hates you. I've been reading this blog for years, and I have really enjoyed it but if something is having that drastic of an effect on your health maybe it's time to find something else.

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    1. This wasn't a post about simple criticism, this was a post about bullying.

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    2. I think some people truly don't understand the difference. The internet has blurred a lot of lines, and the line between "critique" and "being an asshole" is unclear to some.

      Critique: commenting on the work, or disagreeing with an opinion, without disparaging the worth or value of the person who did the work or had the opinion
      Bullying: attacking who someone is

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    3. Ah, ok, I'm going to disagree with you. I'm not entirely sure the word 'bullying' applies to adults. Bullying implies a power imbalance but once you are an adult unless you find yourself in an extreme situation like say, you have become a victim of human trafficking, or you are an illegal immigrant or maybe living in extreme poverty there is no power imbalance. You can always quit your job, especially if you have partner who is working.

      This is the definition of bullying-
      use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.

      Adults who choose to put themselves in the public arena need to stop using the word 'bullying' when people criticize them. Having bad reviews on Amazon is NOT the same thing as being a 15 year old transgender kid who HAS to go to school and HAS no choice but to be around peers who are socially isolating/physically abusing that person. You see, it is just not the same situation. And when an adult steels the word 'bully' to try and garner sympathy it dilutes the meaning of the word.

      So I totally understand that having people say critical mean things on the internet must be a difficult thing to deal with and it must be terrible especially if it affects her health. I was just pointing out that in the end, it's her choice. She can always quit if she wants to. And honestly, I think she will. One person can not change society, you can't stop people criticizing bloggers, especially if an individual is inconsistent. The only things an individual can control are their own actions. What job is worth your health anyway?

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    4. LOVE your take on bullying here, Sara.

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    5. You can thank Merriam-Webster. I am a sociologist who writes/edits a lot of paper for journals, using words correctly is important.

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  56. Natalie, this post was so many things. Eloquent, funny, smart, thought provoking, insightful and possibly one of the best posts I've read on here. Wow, I sat here thinking 'this lady is so strong and so intelligent and wears her heart so perfectly on her sleeve'. You're just lovely Natalie Jean and I will be sad to see this blog go but I will be all the better for having followed you and your life's adventures through the years.

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  57. well here is my opinion as harsh and strong and as much as others might disagree!! In this world there is NO place for haters, if someone does not like your blog WHY would they comment, why would someone take a minute of their day to say something nasty!! why why why?? well it is plain and simple because they are jealous!! end off!! no if's or but's, they are JEALOUS!!! I have read many many blogs and often daily think, wtf! is this person for real, but you know what I just stop reading it, it would not cross my mind to post something nasty, there is too much hatred in this world and people who try to bring you down with such spiteful comments make my blood boil!!! (yes it makes me that mad)!! :) I have read your blog now for many years and I for one would be very very sad if you stopped, I have yet to read a blog that had me enticed from the start, it is so real, fun, interesting and the rest. I think you are a wonderful person Natxx hugs from Irelandxxx

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  58. Good Lord Ms. Natalie Jean, you hit the nail on the head as always! This was a truly inspiring read on a morning that I really needed it. So thanks for that!!!

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  59. I know there have been ridiculous, unfounded things said about you as a person, and your looks. For those this blog post is completely relevant, people hate for the same reasons people bully in middle school, because they're angry at the world and feel like they can lift themselves up by putting others down. I'm so glad you can see that for what it is, and move on.

    With that said, there are other criticisms that may have a grain of truth...They may not be put forth in a kind, caring way (although some are) but they aren't necessarily groundless either. And to dismiss everything said about you that isn't 100% positive can keep you from growing as a blogger, author and person. I just went to look at Amazon reviews, and although there were a handful of 1 star reviews that seemed to have been written just to cut you down, there were others with real substance. You don't have to agree with what they say, but I don't know if they should be dismissed outright as just having been written to tear you down, these were people who paid money for a book and were hoping for more. If you let those comments sit inside you for awhile (not about you personally but about what you've put forth in writing) you may be able to take something useful from it all. Or you may not, but at least you'll have given yourself a chance to grow, rather than dismissing every comment/review as being from people with agendas.

    It's the same with that whole Anne Frank fiasco on Instagram, many who wrote I think were personally offended, and whether they were justified or not (I personally thought it was all blown WAY out of proportion), I don't believe their posts came from hatred, I think they came from insult. And even though I think they went too far in their judgments, it would be wrong to outright dismiss them, because there were lessons there.

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    1. I agree with you to a point, except for where you throw out the idea that someone is calling for dismissal of all negative points of view. it's so interesting to me how quickly things become black and white in this topic. of course i'm not opposed to reality and to calling things for what they are. we all judge movies, blogs, people's actions, etc etc. I understand that and that's all gravy. in my experience, no one is completely against "anything negative" and only choosing to believe the nice things people say. nobody. maybe Pollyanna. (what's so wrong with that though, anyway? what is so wrong with choosing to believe we're good and great and awesome? think about that for a minute. what's the harm in it??) and no one I've ever met would argue that anyone should be that way. it feels like some people consider themselves the "reality police." when people jump to say "but criticism has its place!" about a BLOG of all things, it always strikes me as maybe missing the point, if not a little bit punitive. "too many good things are being said, and she's not perfect, and she needs to know she's not hot shit." of course not all fair judgments and criticisms come from a place of opposition, but too many do. like I said, i'm not unable to see the distinction. also, I want to see your qualifications. i'm not going to get a job writing movie reviews because i'm not qualified. let's start a program for legitimate blog critique maybe! otherwise it's hot air and people's opinions, and definitely not something anybody needs to bow down to as the end all be all of artistic truth. would you expect to go to a grocery store and critique an employee's job performance based on what YOU think a grocery employee should be doing? clearly you don't know their job requirements, or what specifically they've been asked to do, so we all know that'd be silly of us and not our place. so this argument, while I understand it, I think needs to take a step back. it's unfounded to think every criticism, even the fair ones, are necessary in society. what a weird world this is becoming. is it a result of "consumerism" and the monetization of blogs? do people honestly think they own me? or my words? that I owe them something because they've participate in a commercial enterprise in which we are all playing parts? am *i* the consumer good here? does nobody else think that's a little fucked up? is that what we want? to buy the rights to people and the right to say what everrrrrr we want to about them, or to them? sorry this has become a rant not at all having to do with your comment! hah. but, come on.

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    2. I also hope that I have demonstrated in the past and always my willingness and ability to own up to mistakes, take to heart the opinions of my readers, and try to grow as a human. I mean, I give myself a solid B+ on this one. and I think society here has gotten way out of hand with the idea that we all deserve to parent and weigh in on each other like this. (i'm speaking more about my experiences as a blogger and less as my experiences as the writer of a book, in case I should clarify. i am not experienced enough to speak on that and also, i feel the review and critique of a book or piece work is an entirely different situation all together from the critique of a human being, which is what i'm referring to in this post.)

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    3. (Caveat, I don't really know what's been said and what your post is in response to, I really only know what you've referred to here and in previous posts, and it sounds like things have gone far beyond that...So this is a very general comment pertaining to anyone in the public eye.)

      I hear you, and definitely agree for the most part. Bloggers owe absolutely nothing to their readers, and if they choose to only write sponsored posts (not referring to you, just some Randomblogger), or want to write every day about what they ate for lunch, that's completely their prerogative. And ridiculous for a reader to get angry at what they've chosen to write and make personal attacks because of it. Readers may be disappointed, or regret having wasted their time reading, but that's completely on them.

      I think all I was saying is that if the disappointment leads enough people to say, "I'm so frigging bored reading Randomblogger's endless posts on peanut butter sandwiches!" then maybe those comments should be considered. Not taken as gospel because much of it may be bs, just listened to, taking whatever resonates inside of you and leaving the rest.

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  60. Hi Natalie! I really appreciate your honesty, and I am so sorry that you have to deal with so much hatred. Unfortunately once we put ourselves out there on the net and write all about what's real all the haters come out! I found out about GOMI though a comment someone posted on your blog letting you know that you are talked about on that site so naturally I was curious. I was so sick to my stomach when I read a few posts about some of my fave bloggers including you!

    I want you to know that you are loved by so many. After writing a review on my blog about your book there have been many who have read that post. I see the stats, but there have been no negative comments. I'm not a big deal on the net anyway, but I did have an experience when I first moved to Jersey.

    We'd only been in Jersey for two years, and five years ago I received an anon private message on FB. It was a fake account, but i found it in my spam. I couldn't believe what was written. Unfortunately it was from a young women in our ward. It's so sad, but my eldest daughter (who is almost 20 now) recognized the lingo. One thing I've learned from this is that whenever someone leaves a comment so hateful, and post it as anon, or even creates a fake account they are scared, and jealous. Jealous because they don't like different. They are afraid of different. Jealous because we are talented, and have cute kids, and our kids are talented as well! My family and I discussed this, and that didn't stop us from our belief in God, attending church. I did write a positive post about it without calling this family out, but the end result was positive, and this young girl got a mouthful from her family (being that her grandpa was bishop at the time) I felt better. It was childish, and ridiculous! The family and I are cordial at church, but that's as far as it goes.

    Anyway...

    I'm glad to read that you will be okay, and continue to be strong. Those that comment any negativity towards anyone is always a reflection of them. It's unfortunate, but in the end there is karma, and judgement day. You just keep doing what you love...writing, being a mom, because you're really good at it!

    take care,

    xo

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  62. Keeping doing you, Natalie! You're amazing!

    This post reminded me of the This American Life show "If you don't have anything nice to say". If you haven't already heard it I definitely recommend checking out at least the first 20 mins. The first act is about confronting internet haters and its amazing. There were (spoiler alert) happy tears galore. Haters gonna hate and most of the time, it's not personal. I agree that deep down no one is all hate. We just need to keep finding ways to bring out our Dr. Hydes!

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/545/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say-say-it-in-all-caps

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  63. Why don't you take a break from blogging? Take time for you, comments shouldn't get to you, and those reviews on amazon should be taken as positive criticism, all "public people" face them!
    Miss your mommy/son posts!

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    1. I really like blogging. why don't others stop being aggressively insulting for a bit? ;) xo

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  64. This was a really well-written and thought out post. I rolled my eyes at the title, because I don't think that continually addressing/defending against criticism makes for good blogging, but there were some new insights in this post that made it a worthwhile read, for me. I want to add one thought: as a former frequent GOMI reader, I definitely experienced the Mr. Hyde-ing of my thoughts, and I didn't even post or agree with most of what I read there! Negativity breeds negativity, even for the most passive of participants. I'm sorry for what you've experienced, and that it's such a weird thing that it must be hard to even explain to people why it impacts you so much. I'm glad you don't care anymore. And, from one rebel Mormon to another, I love all the fucks you're throwing out in the comments.

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  65. "I would so much rather be on this end of that hatred than the other." It took me a long time to learn this as well but once I did the freedom from giving zero fucks was and still is exhilarating. Also, anyone above this that said "comments shouldn't get to you" is full of shit. OF COURSE comments get to you. You're human, as you so beautifully articulated. But once you fully realize the comments aren't about you but about the issues that person is dealing with and taking out on you you'll be free.

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  66. I enjoy reading your blog and I think you are good at what you do. I think it's shameful how you are treated, and I admire your bravery in continuing to share bits of your life online. I would miss reading your blog if you quit. However, when I read this post, I can't help wishing that you would take a break from blogging and start a new adventure. It doesn't sound to me like blogging is making you happy, I worry about how all the internet bullying will affect your son and husband (as well as yourself), and I hope you don't feel like you have to keep on blogging to show the haters that they haven't gotten to you. Frankly, I think you're a smart, talented, interesting woman who could do any number of things, and sometimes we can all benefit from a career change.

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  67. Natalie, I think your Jekyll and Hyde analogy is perfect. I personally found GOMI a good few years ago. For me, I saw it as more of a gossip site than a snark site at first. It sounds silly, but I'd always been fascinated by Love Taza's story of how she met her husband, like two mormons just randomly happened to bump into each other somewhere in NYC and fall in love? I loved her blog and was just fascinated to know more, so I googled it to see if I could find an old post where she talked about it in more depth, and there was GOMI and they explained there is a LDS temple on that corner that they met. And then your thread was people saying that you were a SOMI for them, and someone else had met another blogger in real life and said they were really nice. People I know in real life don't read blogs, and for me it was kind of like that feeling when you've seen a really awesome TV show and you want to talk about it the next day with your friends, or you find a celebrity that you love and you google them to find out more about them. That's what drew me to GOMI and what kept me going back - the really nasty stuff seemed few and far between, and I just liked to find out little bits of extra gossip about all my favourite bloggers. But, I feel like over time the snark there has just become worse and worse and nastier and nastier to the point where now it seems almost evil. When people started calling another bloggers newborn baby ugly (I mean, WTAF?) I was just over it and had to stop reading there. And then I checked in again just randomly one day waiting for my tyres to be changed and PP was just spewing vitriol at women who are upset when they experience infertility. I'm so glad I've stopped reading there, no one needs to purposely include so much negativity in their life and now I genuinely feel bad/ashamed that I ever used to read there. Even if I wasn't actively participating, I was a consumer.

    Sorry for the wall of text! I'd be sorry if you ever did stop blogging but I think your health and happiness has got to come first and you know what's best for you and your family. Here's hoping that one day Alice finds happiness and decides to shut that place down forever.

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    1. Just wanted to say this perfectly sums up why I started reading GOMI in the first place too! Not for Love Taza specifically as I've never really read her, but for that thing of gossip and how you might go to a site about tv shows or celebrities. Same for a friend of mine. And both of us have stopped reading for the same reason as you. It just seemed to get nastier and nastier until I felt like it was a bunch of high school bitches in a gang I didn't want to be around. Also we also felt that the anti-parent language in general there from PP and the majority of the commentators was getting to be offensive.

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    1. Jordan, have you read the things people say about this blog? To quote an anonymous GOMI person, "Yeah, there's no way she's divorcing that submissive red headed paycheck she calls a husband" what about that is appropriate? That type of "criticism" is what makes up 90% of that site and those people should be ashamed of themselves and that site should be shut down. The irony of people in those forums telling other people to get off the internet is comical.

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    2. It's easy to argue that someone is being oversensitive when you don't know the details - I think it's a good idea to assume that if the behavior that Natalie is talking about was severe enough to cause real mental health issues, it's probably not mild critique or disagreement. I will always be floored by people's inability to give others the benefit of the doubt.

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  69. I had no clue how bad this was. I had no clue what GOMI was until I looked it up and seriously, wtf? It broke my heart to read about your Christmas experience but I am so glad you came out on the other side of this.I appreciate your heart and bravery. Someone might take this next sentence as me kissing your ass, but I'm not, this is what I say to my loved ones when they are going through a rough time. If you never did a single thing in life again and just existed, that would be okay and you would still be loved. You deserve to be here and you deserve love and your life is not measured by the beliefs of others. I hope you keep blogging. As a neurotic girl that wears her heart on her sleeve, it's reassuring to see and hear about your experience. xo-Laura

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  70. wouldn't it be neat to have a whole world that's glowing and positive? I do. I don't see how a free for all gets us close to a happy, safe existence, and I will happily say that being a dick to someone, even if it's deserved, ain't cool. i plan to raise my son that way. please dear god let others plan to raise their kids that way, too.

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    1. Whatever happened to "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all"? Do people not watch Bambi anymore?

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  71. I just want to say how interesting the whole Blogging phenomenon is. It's such a young thing still, and this is an interesting dialogue about it that I've been pondering for awhile now. I think bloggers and readers alike are still trying to navigate the whole 'industry' properly.....just really unique and new. Thanks for putting words to the 'opinion' thoughts I've been having lately.

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  72. I have read your blog for years but never commented before. For a long time I loved what you wrote here. But over the last couple of years, there have been some things you've said or done that I strongly disagree with. That's fine, you're entitled to do and say what you like and there are some aspects of your blog I still like, hence why I still read. However, people are allowed to dislike some of the things you say and do, and express that opinion. Not every dissenting voice is a personal attack.
    I looked at your thread on GOMI a while ago and saw that, when it was first created around 3 years ago, people were overwhelmingly positive and were fans of your blog. There were a few exceptions, but they were rare. But gradually, over time, former fans began to dislike some of the things you'd said and done, just as I had. I fully agree that there is no place for comments about anyone's appearance, relationship, children etc. When I look at GOMI from time to time, there are some comments like that. But there are also a lot of what I would class as genuine, fair criticisms - over-exposure of children, hypocrisy over sponsored posts, inappropriate jokes, mocking those less fortunate etc. And I can't class that as bullying, or describe it as evil or cruel. I don't think the people making these comments are "the most awful people on the internet." Not when there are truly sexist, homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic, violent people preaching true hate. Perhaps that was just an example of your typical hyperbolic style of writing, but it comes across as rather naive. A few weeks ago here in the UK, there was a rumour going round that a female TV presenter was going to replace a long-running male presenter who'd been sacked. Within hours, she'd been bombarded with hundreds of death and rape threats directly to her own Twitter account. Even that is far from being the worse thing on the internet - people are posting pictures of themselves beheading innocent charity workers and others are praising them for it. So that remark, though it may have been hyperbole, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
    Now, I'm not saying that just because some people have it worse than you, it's okay for people to make comments about your nose or boycott your book; it isn't. But by discussing it on GOMI, it's not a personal attack on you. They're keeping it off your blog and your IG comments and in their own space. A space that you don't have to read, and that you don't need to know exists unless you deliberately seek it out. For example, I had a run-in with one of the students I work with today and it's quite possible that he's going to chat to his friends tonight and call me a bitch and maybe a fat cow or whatever. But I'll never know about it because I don't plan on finding out. If he said that to my face, that would be unnecessarily disrespectful and to me, that's the equivalent of commenting on your personal IG, Twitter, blog or wherever.
    Regarding the difference between flat-out criticism ("Ugh, I hate these F21 posts") and constructive criticism ("I wish she'd focus on ethical sponsorships as this is something she's said she's passionate about in the past and it's something I really want to know more about"), I suppose there isn't much of the latter on GOMI because people on there aren't directly communicating with you, even if you do happen to read it. It's the difference between me saying to my husband "God, my boss was a ruthless bastard today" and saying to him "Maybe you need to be a little more positive with the team because I think morale is getting low." I have rarely seen outright criticism like the above on your blog or IG comments (the online equivalent of saying it to your face).

    Anyway, I'm not really sure what my overall point is, this was much longer than I intended and seems like a series of disjointed points now. I hope it makes sense to you and you can see what I'm saying.

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    1. Holy shit, that was longer than I realised. Sorry for the wall o'text, everyone.

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    2. hi Abbie! thank you for this comment, it's very kind and thoughtful. I do disagree with you. of course people have the right to talk about me and of course it's not always an attack, and this post is not directed at those, but at the truly hideous stuff that, I don't care the amount or volume or comparison to other events, are still blatantly wrong. but if we want to extend this down the food chain a bit, I have to say that legal, fair, or not, I think the entire idea of GOMI and other forums like it is wrong. I don't think blogs can be compared to television shows. I don't think the two equate. id be horrified to find out my son or daughter found pleasure in discussing other people's lives like that, even if they put themselves out there to be critiqued. just like I think bullfighting or sea world is barbaric. but that's just my opinion. I think there is distinction between blog entertainment and other types of entertainment and I think the ethics are different. criticizing a blog the way you'd criticize a television show, fairly or not, doesn't work, I don't think. anyway this is a whole different issue from what I was writing to address in my original essay, but I do appreciate the thoughtful discussion!

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    3. Thanks for taking the time to read my comment and for the quick reply. I think it's great that you are having a dialogue about this.

      As I said, the fact that there are worse things happening on the internet doesn't make it okay to insult you, but as you said people making unpleasant comments on GOMI are "the most awful people on the internet" I was just pointing out that I found that phrase troubling. Call them awful, call them very super extra awful, but they're not the most awful by any stretch.

      I'm not really sure I understand the comparison to bullfighting or Sea World as those poor animals have no choice in what they do, whereas we do have a choice, as humans living in the free world. I work with hundreds of teenagers every day and find it amazing and rewarding most of the time, but am spoken to rudely or disrespectfully very often. But I have a choice about what job I do, and I can stop doing it if I decide the bad outweighs the good. Same with you and blogging - you have thousands of fans who love everything you do and maybe a few dozen people who don't. You could decide to stop blogging, but why would you when the good strongly outweighs the bad?

      I don't think the concept of GOMI in itself is wrong. Ultimately, those people would dislike your blog whether GOMI existed or not. At least with GOMI around, all the people who want to make negative comments are handily confined to one place rather than making their comments on your blog or IG (which, as I said above, is definitely unacceptable).

      I don't have children but I can imagine if I did I wouldn't be happy if they were making personal comments about people on or offline. But I absolutely teach my students to be critical thinkers and not take anything in the media (which blogs are a part of) at face value. And so if they were voicing genuine criticisms on a site like GOMI, I'd be proud that they were thinking for themselves. From what I've seen on your GOMI thread, I'd say it's 30% ridiculous and personal insults and 70% "fair" criticism, but not always said in the nicest possible way (although, as said before, it's not written with the intention of you reading it). To be fair, I haven't seen the whole thing, I have just looked at it sometimes when you've said or done something that I've disagreed with and I've thought "Hmm, is it just me or is that a little off?" Never signed up or contributed to it though. Obviously the definition of what's "fair" criticism is totally subjective but I suppose it's the difference between personally insulting someone and simply disliking the things they do or say.

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    4. Second everything Abbie says here! Very well put.

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  73. Thank you for posting this, we've been awfully worried about you. Everyone with a career in the creative field, which you are a part of, opens themselves up for feedback. This isn't always going to be glowing. What we should be encouraging is constructive feedback, versus the non-helpful and cruel commentary people are throwing at you now.

    Don't quit blogging, you'll let the haters win. Also, I'd stay away from GOMI and let the haters hate on their own turf.

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    1. that's so sweet of you, thank you!! you don't need to worry about me. I have a good head on my shoulders and don't direct my internet in that direction. I do worry for our kids and the future of life online, and I think we all should expect better for ourselves, but I also know that everyone's opinions have equal say here in America ;). haha

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  74. Hiya Natalie, I love your blog a lot (and then, by extension, you, right? because I think a big point of your post is seeing the human behind the words!) I'm so sorry for the awful experience you've been through and it made me think of Monica Lewinsky's TED talk, have you seen it? It's right on topic and I found it inspiring to hear from her and how she's rebuilding her life. Anyway, it's here if you want to take a look: http://www.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame/transcript?language=en

    Keep on, keepin on! I can't wait to read your book and I've always appreciated your thoughtfulness here.

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  75. Hi Natalie! Think you might enjoy this Monica Lewinsky TED Talk about public shaming and cyber-bullying. She shares a strong and powerful message about having compassion and empathy in the face of an online culture of humiliation. http://www.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame
    You're fighting a good fight here with your talk at HIVE and this post and all the other things that you do to cultivate kindness on the Internet! Fist bumps.
    Just noticed Kate's post above. This TED talk is awesome!

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  76. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this topic. I think there is opposition in all things, and most things aren't so black & white. Personally, GOMI has been really helpful to me. I am able to weed out the bullies and disregard (mostly laugh at, and pray for) the haters. But I do get a lot out of it. In my weak and impressionable younger years, I would let blogs weaken my satisfaction in myself and my life. Blogs are soooo aspirational, so untouchable at times. They made me feel like my life wasn't good enough. Why wasn't I perfect like her? Why am I not travelling all the time? Why am I not eating crap food and staying waif thin? Why am I not this stylish? Why can't my marriage look like that? Why can't my apartment look like that? These feelings took over my life and made me feel depressed----sort of a converse experience to yours. GOMI made you feel horrible; it took over your life. For me, it saved me...it made me see past "the curtain," if you will and realize that not everything is as it seems. It taught me that blogs are highly curated and staged. Yours happens to be one of the REALEST. I cherish your blog for that reason. CHERISH, I TELL YOU.

    So I want to be 100% with you on this, but I really see the positive side to GOMI. There are so many millennials who suffer because of blogs. I think there is more responsibility to be had on both sides of the spectrum...bloggers need to get real and offer up the not-so-saccharine parts of life, and fangirls need to recognize that self worth and comparison are a toxic pairing of ingredients.

    GOMI helped me see past the parts of blogs that make you and I roll our eyes. The fakery, the egoism, the staged lives. I choose to not comment or engage in the discussion, but reading does help me maintain a baseline of reality. I needed that because I was weak, blogging was so new, and I stumbled across blogs at a particularly difficult point in my life.

    I think GOMI would cease to be a thriving community if bloggers weren't so defensive and self-curating....if they didn't take themselves so seriously...if they shared something deeper, more personal, and more meaningful. Of course, that's the beauty of blogging, isn't it? They get to share what they want, how they want. I don't want that to go away either. See? Opposition in all things.

    There is no excuse for hate. There is no excuse for bullying.

    I think this is all happening because there is SUCH a disparity, or blurred space, between what's substantive and real, and what's purely aspirational and staged. There seems to be little balance between gushing fangirl comments and the wide spectrum of (evil to helpful) critique. It's just all so confusing.

    I would advise not adding to the toxicity by saying such things as "F-you" to those little poops. But hey, I'm not you, and I don't know what I'd do having walked in your shoes. I choose not to judge. I choose to try to read blogs with clarity. GOMI helps with that.

    Maybe there's a way for bloggers and readers to come to some sort of clarity point. I wish more blogs felt real. We need real. Meaningful human connections...that's what blogging used to be about.

    Keep being brave & being strong. xoxo

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    1. I completely understand that feeling you're describing. I've been there, I've felt it. ironically, hah, that's why I started blogging. I just think, as glad as I am that you found support for your feelings, I just wish it didn't sound so much like the textbook definition of taking others down in order to feel better. you know? I believe, really and truly, that if you started a blog of all the beautiful things in your life, that you'd have just as many beautiful, boast-worthy things to write about as any one else! of course, you'd be criticized for it. bummer. but I want more for all of us than just "peeking behind the curtain" to prove that others aren't as great as we think they think they are. I want us all to realize all the greatness we have, too! and find that beauty in ourselves! I mean, doesn't that sound so much more fun?

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    2. I actually do have a blog! It is so hard to balance being vulnerable and protecting myself, being "real" and being picky about the artistic side of expression (which can come off as "staged"),... and I have to say, I do have a fricken rad life. :) I actually live in Portland and have some mutual friends w/ you and your sisters!

      Thank you for replying. It helped me experience a lightbulb moment. CONTENTION. It all comes down to CONTENTION. Eff contention. It makes oceans out of droplets and drowns us. But in a world of opposition in all things, isn't there inherent contention? How do we avoid it? Man, this has opened a serious philosophical/spiritual thinktank.

      I just wish there was a way to fill in the holes in a manner that is 100% positive and loving. GOMI might have helped me, but in a twisted way.

      I really think your next book should be about THAT.

      Do these GOMIers not realize that if they ran an anonymous blog, their fellow forum comrades would rip them apart, too?

      So many thoughts...I wish I could chat about this with you over a beverage at Powells.


      MAD respect to you, Natalie.

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  77. Just had another thought. I think this is SUCH tricky territory because you have made your life your work. Which is sooo awesome on so many levels. Who wouldn't want to live their life doing fun things/wearing fun things and getting PAID to do it? Um...rad!

    But here's the thing. Bloggers blur personal and professional this way. In ANY profession, clients and employers are allowed to critique your professional output. Readers are both your employers AND your clients, so we are doubly allowed to critique your work.

    But...when your work IS your personal life...people get an open pass to critique your personal life.

    Whether that feels/is wrong....that is logical. It is a:b as c:d.

    Very tricky indeed.

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    1. totally, right? I haven't made my life my profession. I've made my sphere of influence, and my writing, my profession. I I think that's an important distinction. I don't earn money for breathing. ;)

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    2. "Sphere of influence..." even tricker! Where are the boundaries? Where does it end or begin? You write about your life. People envy your life. People feel like they are even a part of your life. And they are, in a way.

      When GOMIers say blogging isn't hard, they fail to recognize those complexities.

      You don't earn money for breathing---but wouldn't that be something!

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  78. Natalie, I've been reading your blog for a long time and as I recently had a baby, I've been re-reading your posts on motherhood - often in the middle of the night while nursing! I'm so grateful for all you've shared, thank you.

    I'm so sad to read of the bullying you've experienced. Like some others here, I became aware of GOMI by accident when doing a Google search for your blog a while ago. I only scanned a few comments before clicking out, fast. I live in London and had never heard of the site and remember being a bit confused about it was I'd stumbled into. I was, quite honestly, stunned by the content and immediately put in mind of the terrible bullying I experienced at school. They're memories I don't often visit - they are still far too painful! Those times did lasting damage. Girls full of resentment and jealousy because I excelled at school. Alongside all the other standard bullying behaviour - nasty name calling, vicious comments and rumours, isolating and ignoring games, you know the kind of thing - they got together a petition to request that I be removed from my class and taught separately, so that they might 'have a chance of coming first' in exams. It wasn't just the bullies who caused the harm - it was also the intervention of one senior teacher who, in trying to resolve the bullying campaign 'fairly,' suggested that perhaps I could be 'more sensitive' to the fact that my excelling across subjects was making these girls feel jealous. Perhaps I could answer fewer questions, contribute less? I was a shy and quiet child, already lacking confidence. The message I received, aged just 11, was that I needed to make myself smaller, less visible, that my very existing was intolerable to other people. The bullying had been so malicious and sustained that I already felt terrible about myself and I was really vulnerable to this idea that maybe I could and should do something to make it possible for other people to cope with their envy. It's left its mark. I have held myself back, kept my head below the parapet, declined promotions, avoided competitive situations and in general, underachieved for years, on some deep level avoiding any chance of being bullied like that again. (I think having a baby may have brought big changes to all of this, as I have discovered a new strength and confidence - but that's another story!)
    Anyway, I've been thinking about you and all of this stuff today. I know you already have a good perspective on all this but, for what it's worth, I wanted to say to you - and myself! - that you are not responsible for other people feeling inadequate, you do not need to hide your light so that they feel okay about themselves. Raise your hand in class, make your contribution, stand proud. Don't take in the hatred, don't let it undermine all you've worked for and achieved. Blog for as long and as much as you want to. Don't let them dictate the terms. Don't sabotage yourself on their behalf. Enjoy your huge creativity, your readership, your beautiful family and your beautiful life.
    This is so much less than I wanted to say but I am still very much sleep deprived.
    Go well
    Martha x

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    1. I love your comment Martha! It's tricky business learning to stand tall in our own light. I wish as a society we were better at raising each other up.

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  79. Hmmm...

    I left you a review on Amazon. I said that I was expecting more from your book and felt let down. You are just such a talented writer, I was expecting a book full of personal essays, and I was bummed that there weren't more of them. I think you addressed this is your ham sandwich/Reuben metaphor. I was expecting a Reuben. That's what I said in my review. I don't think that makes me an evil, spiteful, hateful, awful person. I think anytime you write a book you should expect constructive criticism and people are allowed to have an opinion about the product you put forth, especially when they paid money for it. It doesn't mean anyone hates you, or hates your work... It's just a review of the book, not an effort to sabotage anyone. I was being 100% honest in saying I hope your next book will be a little less "how-to" and a little more Reuben. I don't think that warrants a "fuck you", but perhaps you do.

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  80. You know, Natalie. I found your blog when I had a MAJOR craving to visit New York. Back in 2010...you filled in me that void of overstepped on concrete streets, noisy breezes, and carefully sketched out architecture until I could see it for myself.

    I don't think ive ever stopped to thank you for that.

    Thank you.

    I would go on GOMI every once in a while and would find myself reading those things about you...I started to believe it. (ha, a crazy thing). Why crazy? Because it's true...if youre not careful, it will seep you, it will take you mercilessly without any permission, except the permission you already gave and that is why we have to be oh so careful. I stopped reading those forums a long time ago...I started meditating and reading Buddhist blogs and realized you cannot open the door for hate without it invading your home and I did not want an invaded home..an invaded soul.

    So thank you. Thank you for that and for that Jeckyll & Hyde recap, because I've never read the book and I finally now know how it ends. :)

    Stef

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  81. I also think some of the criticism of your book is the result of the way it was marketed to your readers. For whatever reason, most of us had the impression you were writing a Reuben. That's the impression I got when you were going through the writing process, and when the book came out and you alluded to it on your blog. I think if you had marketed it as a fun guide to your lifestyle, and your personal style, readers would have felt differently about the final product & would have known better what to expect.

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    1. I also think you should be able to understand some of the disappointment based on the fact that some of the personal essays we DO get in the book are just republished blog posts most of us have already read here for free. I mean, as a reader, that's a bit of a bummer, right?

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  82. I mean, sure, a world without criticism would be fun, if totally impractical, especially in areas where the stakes are higher. I don't want people training to be doctors to be exempt from criticism when they mess up. I don't think healthy living bloggers who promote eating and exercise disorders shouldn't be called out anywhere on the internet.

    Regarding your response to Brittany above, aren't you doing some of the same things in this post? Encouraging people to "peek behind the curtain" of GOMI? You suggest those women lack substance, harbor monsters of envy, and are fundamentally unkind. You encourage them to take personal control and responsibility and assume that they are not yet the people they want to be. Not to mention the "fuck you." What you are offering there is CRITICISM (constructive criticism, even!)--the very thing, apparently, that you don't want people to offer you. Are you not then "taking them down," by your own definition? I have to say, those things you say about them are the EXACT same types of things they say about you and your writing--that your posts lack substance, that you should take control, that you don't yet seem to be the person you want to be given how much your blog persona has changed over the last year or so.

    If you want to take 'em down, have at it, girl! But please don't pretend like you're doing something totally different.

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    1. She is being bullied and is standing up for herself not going on the attack.

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    2. I'm not saying what she should or shouldn't do. I'm just saying that in her post it sounds like she is putting others down in order to make herself feel better, which is totally fine except that in her comments here and on instagram, she's suggesting that it should never be okay to tell people off or offer criticism, even if it is deserved. Yet her post is all about telling people off--in a very personal way, moreover! I thought it was sort of awesome, I'm just confused about why it's fine for her to tell them off for offending her, but if readers suggest (either here or on GOMI) that she has said something offensive, that is very, very wrong and hateful.

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    3. I'm also just feeling weird about this whole thing. I mean, I bought her book, but didn't love it. Like others, I was expecting a bit...more. However, I like(d) her writing and thought I would buy a future book of hers. I wrote a review saying more or less that on the website of the local bookseller from whom I purchased the book. I know Natalie only referenced the amazon reviews in her post, but mine looked very similar to some of the ones there (not a personal attack, but not glowing either). I'm a little surprised she found those reviews unnecessarily critical and deserving of a "fuck you." I mean, in some ways that's very much an attack on those who bought the book. That's cool if that's how she feels, but I think I'm within my rights to evaluate something I bought without automatically being labeled a hater and told that I lack substance as a person because I think constructive criticism has a place in the world. Like I said, I'm not saying what Natalie should or shouldn't do or say about GOMI, I just don't think it's fair to preach "No Criticism, Ever!" on the tails of a blog post that was in and of itself very critical.

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    4. Well said, Jacey.

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    5. She's said multiple times the post had nothing to do with her book reviews...read the post before commenting please

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  83. People are rude. And some people delight in being cruel. I love the Jekkyl and Hyde analogy(now I need to read that book). And regardless of what people think of your book/blog/life there is no reason to be an ass. I've been reading through the comments and no matter how much you make off of blogging or book writing- it does not make you a "thing" to be torn apart- and that's the point I think people are missing. I think you've been very gracious, navigating this messy life with all its flaws. And for me, you've been an encouragement and inspiration- not because you're perfect, but BECAUSE you are perfectly flawed- and you're embracing the beauty in that. Sending lots of love and positive thoughts to you<3
    ~Hannah

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  85. I agree with many things you said and think most logical people would agree there is too much cruelty and bullying on the internet. But a post about kindness that includes an "F-you" toward others just doesn't ring true to me.

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  86. Natalie,

    Really liked this post. That being said, a few weeks ago you blocked me on insta for what I thought was a respectful comment re: other commentators response to the Anne Frank-gate apology post. I was saddened and confused by this response, and only visited GOMI after being blocked to see what was causing you to be so reactionary. I'm sorry that people there are so cruel about your personal life. I'm disappointed I don't get to see your insta posts anymore but understand you gotta do what you gotta do to stay in a good mental space.

    -Sarah

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  87. I feel like whenever this topic comes up, a bunch of people rush into say "not all criticism!" Kind of like when someone talks about misogyny and people rush to comment "not all men" hate women/are rapists, etc. And when people start mentioning things like hey, "black lives matter" and people rush into remind us that #alllivesmatter or #whitepeoplemattertoo.

    The thing is, that's obvious, we all know that not all men hate women, and that all lives matter. What we are saying is that there is a consistent problem in society about race and gender. What I think Natalie is saying is that consistently justifying meanness to protect those who constructively criticize is unnecessary. No one thinks constructive criticism is bad. I do think harassing someone consistently and trying to jeopardize their career is bad. I'm guilty of some long-term GOMI lurking myself, and while the people there consistently insist that they keep their commentary on the site, it is pretty obvious that isn't true. The blog admin may delete the comments suggesting people boycott or leave mean comments on a blogger's site, but that doesn't mean those people aren't doing it. That goes far beyond criticism, or even snark.

    Most of the commentary currently on GOMI prior to this post involves speculation on when Natalie will get divorced, why her hair looks the way it does, and why her clothes are ugly. There is some constructive criticism, some of which I have actually agreed with, but most of it is just being mean because that's what one does in that space. The "constructive criticisms" pop up every few posts so people can feel righteous again before commenting on the state of a stranger's marriage or mothering. We shouldn't accept that as socially decent. Do they have a right to say those things? Yes. But it doesn't mean it IS right.

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  89. Amazing post. I honestly find it so difficult to get my head around the fact that people go to such lengths to be nasty to one another. I mean, contacting sponsors - what did they think they would say?! It's bizarre, if anything.
    I'm glad you seem to have made it through your struggles, and you sound very positive about the future which is great! :)
    Ceri x

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  91. I think this whole discussion is really interesting. (1) I used to read GOMI a lot back in the day BC there was a couple blogs I liked that just got BORING and it was fun to chat about it with others BC no one I know IRL reads blogs. Also my work involves a lot of time on the internet and researching new media. And then I had a kid and was off the internet for 4 months and when I went back GOMi just seemed eww and awful and I totally get the Hyde allusion. I just have zero time for that sort of negativity anymore with a kiddo. The internet is too sad of a place by half. (2) And I get your point about maybe we should move away from the free for all online and certify people for criticism like we used to. But MAN then only the powerful (and privileged) end up meting out the criticism. So instead we have this mess. And the internet is just a really awful place. I mean that as someone who studies it for a living. Like the WORST things are said and distributed. And YET some great things have came out. Like blogs for instance. I mean, wouldn't it have been cool if we could have read the thoughts of a housewife of 300 years ago. Like from a anthropological perspective? And future generations will. Not just the stories of the elite women with access to the materials and time to write (although, that is still happening too)? I mean the archival possibilities for future generations. And I am one of those religious sentimental fools that think every story matters. Which frankly is another thing that turned me off GOMI. Some people on there think that isn't true. Call me a Pollyanna but everyone is a special snowflake with value. So in essence online there is a little good which partly makes up for the mostly bad. Read the top comments on the HONY FB page. That always makes me feel better about humanity. (3) Every single person has to decide whose opinion matters. And here I want to pause and say what in the actual fuck to anyone who thinks giving advice, any advice to a stranger is OK. I have literally stared down strangers and said that it is none of their damn business. Sometimes I think people are out of their damn minds. You know whose opinion matters? My spouse, my parents, my supervisors, my closest friends and that it it. The end. The world would be a better place if we all just agreed to behave this way. But this is personal criticism. (4) Professional criticism is a whole other matter. And I think you do a fair job of noting that, although other people seem to have missed it. If I think your writing is boring or your sponsorships poorly executed than I am criticizing what you do for a living. I have too much respect for the work of writing as a profession and how bloggimg has elevated confessionary writting and the way it has raised the female voice to think personal attacks are OK. But, criticism of the actual content? I think that is par for the course. And frankly I don't get from you that you think this sort of criticism on GOMI or otherwise is bullying. Also, this was hella long. Sorry.

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  92. Why don`t you extend the same generosity you`re giving yourself - "I`m just human!", "I make mistakes!" - to the people criticizing you? Haven`t YOU made many inappropriate and offensive comments before? About fat women photobombing your picture, about Anne Frank, about Renee Zellwager`s face? Haven`t you publicly hinted that another mommy blogger was a bitch to you? Haven`t you just told a bunch of people to go fuck themselves? Wow. Your passive aggressiveness on this post is blatant, because you`re a bully yourself. You can be mean. I see no humility in you. I never participated in GOMI (though I do read it there), I never post online comments, but this... You - out of many other bloggers whom I may consider vapid, vain, or just plain not talented - is the one that comes across as the meanest. I don`t know who you`re trying to fool with the whole kindness schtick. The stuff you`ve said and done were bad. And sure, everyone makes mistakes, you bet - but they THINK about it, and LEARN from it. A trip to Paris doesn`t change anyone, doesn`t make anyone a better person. Reflection does. Self-awareness. Pain. You don`t think before you post. And when you do post and "apologize", it only shows you're embarrassed, not repented. What matters to you is not what you actually are, but rather how people will see you. I agree with whoever said that you've changed, and I don't believe for a second that you feel any compassion towards your haters - what you want is to win. You don't want intelligent discussion - you want to win. You don't want kindness online - you want to win. And you may feel like you have, good for you, but you'll never win until you think it through and realize that YOU may be the one who needs to change. It`s not your *personality* that needs change, though - it's the inner you. Morals, ethics, priorities. If you want kindness, start being kind yourself. Don't be sarcastic, don't hint about other people online, don't make insensitive jokes - it hurts other people too.

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    1. Wow, Natalie must have really wronged you in some deep and personal way? I mean, for you to respond with something like this. Everything you wrote sounds like it's coming from a woman scorned. Jeez!
      Almost everything you wrote is drowning in hatred and meanness. And it's done is such an accusatory way that I doubt your making your point, but instead just justifying and proving hers.

      "you`re a bully"
      "I see no humility in you"
      using words/description like "vapid, vain, or just plain not talented"
      "I don`t know who you`re trying to fool with the whole kindness schtick"
      "but they THINK about it, and LEARN from it" - what exactly makes you think she didn't? you don't live her life or read her thoughts.
      "A trip to Paris doesn`t change anyone, doesn`t make anyone a better person" -Actually, I think it very well could. Maybe you should take a trip and see if it changes you.
      "What matters to you is not what you actually are, but rather how people will see you" - again, how are you so sure? how is this even accurate or credible? it really is just accusations that you are coming up with based on???
      "It`s not your *personality* that needs change, though - it's the inner you" - again, if your comment did anything at all, it was prove her exact point. Some people are just mean. UNNECESSARILY mean.

      I find it really surprising how you could read her post and then go ahead and open it up your comment with "Why don`t you extend the same generosity you`re giving yourself - "I`m just human!", "I make mistakes!" - to the people criticizing you? " AND THEN continue for 14 lines to display such a horrible side of yourself.

      Take care, my love. That savors strongly of bitterness.

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  93. I can't stand contention. And though others say you are being a "blatant bully" or "not repented" or "the meanest" or whatever . . . I see someone fighting, with fierce gusto, for L-O-V-E, love. I've had my own share (not as a blogger, but in the vicissitudes of life) of bullying, disrespect, and cruelty. Do I advocate for love? Yes. But sometimes you have to hand it back to the perpetrator with a fistful of power. I see you doing this here. I don't think you're a blatant bitch, I think you are standing up for your Self (with a capital S) and that shit is AWESOME! Everyone should stand up for themselves. When I read the critisism thrown your way, I cringe. They are not advocating or standing up for themselves, they are being rude and victimizing you (and me and a million others) as a lesser. Did I just call them rude? Yes. Does that mean I hate them and I'm the meanest bully ever? No. I'm sad for the very literal hate thrown around. This world, the internet, should be full of Self love and advocating. To each their own. But, for the love of God, NO MORE BULLYING! You've made blogging mistakes that have offended people, but then there are others who are doing the offending and hating on purpose. People are saying "you've changed, Natalie", but hey! You're entitled to change. Keep ebbing and flowing and listening to that big, sensitive, lovey, heart of yours. It'll always tell you what is best for YOU and yours. That's what matters most. And you know that.
    I love you long time and I hope if you ever leave the blogosphere that you'll keep writing and pursuing your passions and then sharing them with me. HAHA! Snail mail maybe? Great! ;) XO! I see you. And I hear you.

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  94. This essay kicked ass, Natalie. I must admit I've stumbled onto GOMI once or twice. Who would want to sit around and comment regularly on a forum where you only talk about blogs you hate (or envy)? You're a terrific writer and an awesome blogger, one of my favs! Hugs from VA.

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  95. Dear Natalie,

    Though I often stop by your blog and enjoy it mightily (your latest reflections on your time in Europe were lovely, transporting, and downright fun to read), I rarely comment (sorry about that...)

    This was an absolutely wonderful call to arms against the forces of petty meanness that sometimes seem to threaten the world of online personal writing (i.e., blogging). My mission statement is that I should always strive to seek the good and the beautiful. You help me do that, and you encourage many others to do it as well. We all appreciate it!

    Yours,

    Madeline

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  98. Fist bump. Respect. I'm sorry you went through all that. It would be nice if people behaved online like they would in person. Do what you gotta do. Take care, look after yourself. Fist bump.

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  99. I'm really glad you tacked that "eff you" at the end of your message to the haters.

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  100. Aaaaand...I'm crying. So well-written. So fantastically real and strong and encouraging. I remember seeing photos of you at Christmas last year and saying to a friend, "She's going through something...and it's rough" and saying prayers for you--this mom-blogger stranger that I had come to root for and think of as a 'friend'(?)

    You're really doing it. You're making it and I (for what it's worth, as a stranger/friend) am so proud of you.

    I have to admit: I came for the super cute pictures of your crazy rad kid, but I have stuck around for posts about your granny goose and sentences like, "Don't Hyde yourselves, girls." You are hilarious and inspiring and 100% human...and I, for one, am grateful for that.

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  101. Beautiful thoughts. Beautiful writing.

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  102. That was AWESOME! Thank you. I've held back for a long time because of haters and I'm trying not to now, to write my truth. And you should know that the words that you put out here, the ones that seem most true, the most passionate, are beautiful and inspire me.

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  103. Hey Natalie!
    I really enjoy reading your blog. I love your posts about home decor, F21, and internet finds of the week. I feel like even if it's been a journey with this blog regarding the haters, the blog reflects that you have been able to stay true to yourself. Sometimes it feels like some other bloggers are only shoving products down their readers' throats while making their lives seem sterile. While I know that you have sponsors and do posts that feature products, you have a mix of prices that reflect a wide range of readers. It's refreshing knowing that as a reader, even if your taste changes, you haven't lost YOU on your blog.

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  104. "Keep on keeping' on"..I like that, Natalie. I really like that. Just hits me right in the core. Fist bump to you, my friend. and more power!

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  105. My only (very belated) response to this post and this entire comment thread is the ultimate last word on the matter (in my opinion) from Theodore Roosevelt:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    Critic. Man in the arena. Keep being the latter. Case closed.
    xx

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  106. All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner!'
    capital one career

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