Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Are People Meaner Online than in Real Life?

I’ve been writing on and reading blogs since Al Gore invented the Internet — or at least for the past several years, anyway.

When it started, I thought the social web (along with the word “blog“) was pretty ridiculous. Now, I’ve come to love this medium for a lot of reasons, particularly how it connects you to the world.

However, this is not all rainbows and sunshine. There is a darker side to blogging.

Photo of an Angry Child

Photo credit: Gerry Thomasen (Creative Commons)

I admire the ethos of many bloggers to be a source of information and inspiration for others (as Andrew Jones says, “be a spring, not a well”). And for the most part, that’s what you get: a lot of nice people sharing a lot of great stuff.

But there is, unfortunately, another contingent to the blogosphere: Some people are mean.

Why people are meaner online

My suspicion is it’s the anonymity of the Internet that causes people to say things online that would make their mothers blush. To run their mouths in ways they’d never do in someone’s home.

Regardless of the reason, I’ve heard so many jabs, slanders, and critiques that you’d think I’d be use to it by now. As you know, I’ve had my fair share of haters. But I’m not used to it.

Even with such experience, the uncouthness of what I read online sometimes surprises me. I wonder: Did you really think about that before posting it?

Bloggers: The best at being bad

You don’t have to look very hard to find a blog blasting just about anyone. If you’re in the public view at all (and I mean, at all), there’s probably a group dedicated to disagreeing with you. Don’t believe me? Google yourself.

As a blogger, I’m embarrassed by how disrespectful my kind can be towards perfect strangers. I don’t care if you are hunting down heretics; you don’t have to be a jerk about it.

Is it idealistic to think that love could win in this arena? That generosity and being an all-around “good guy” can trump shrewdness and arrogance? Well call me naive, but I hope so.

It’s not enough to be right

Contentiousness for the sake of being contentious confuses me. No great wars were fought over the virtue of fighting. No epic debates were waged in defense of argument.

In college, I met an academician who challenged me, a religion major, that philosophy student worth his salt should be able to argue for or against his point. That always bothered me.

No, I thought. That’s not the point of philosophy. It’s not about being right; it’s about finding the truth.

The arguments in which we engage, the conversations we have, and the battles we fight are all a means to an end, not the end itself.

Which raises a question: Do you know what you’re fighting for? Or are you just trying to get noticed? Share in the comments.

Update: Check out my article today on RELEVANT Magazine: The Rise of Confessional Media

*Photo credit: Gerry Thomasen (Creative Commons)

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • The difference between enlightened and educated is being able to argue either side of a philosophical argument (educated) but knowing which side is the truth and becoming passionate about that. Being passionate about either side brings the mean bloggers.
    Of course I get a little angry when the arguments are weak and the blogger’s a braggart. That’s like the worst of both worlds.

    •  Love that distinction, Jonathan.

      • Lori Buckle

         Navya, that was a very wise observation you made, about how haters are usually cynical because they’ve lost something.  I would just add that in my experience it also includes people who are afraid of losing something.  I happen to believe that women should have a greater role in the church, and some of the most negative and intolerant posts I have seen are people who call themselves Christian and yet don’t like what I believe. 

        This also ties in to what people said above, about atheists being  hateful.  Sadly, I’ve had a better relationships with some atheists than some of my fellow Christians.  That breaks my heart because, even if we  disagree with each other, we’re supposed to modeling the love of Christ.  If we act just like the world, then why should the world care about what we have to say?

  • You bring up a great point, Jeff. I think some of the “haters” only do it to intentionally get people riled up.  They like conflict and fighting.  They might not even agree with their own point.  They just like to see people get angry.

     I tend to avoid getting sucked into online debates like this.  I have several friends on facebook who are atheists.  Occasionally they will post things that I completely disagree with.  It happened just the other day and I was tempted to argue (but the friend who posted it loves to argue)   I honestly think I can’t change someone’s mind with a short discussion on facebook.   However, I can stand true to what I believe and continue sharing my story and my testimony.   I think that works better than picking fights. 

    •  I understand what you’re saying, Eileen. I remember beginning a discussion with an atheist on someone else’s blog. After a few exchanges with the person, I recognized he simply wanted a platform to spout some nasty stuff. I withdrew from that discussion promptly after that. I don’t mind engaging in discussions with those who disagree with my perspective. In the right spirit of argument, it  invigorates, provokes, and deepens understanding.

      •  To be fair, people of all belief systems are capable of this.

        • Yup. 

          A friend of my husband’s recently made a distinction between atheists and “anti-theists”–with the latter being the argumentative, intolerant sort. 

          It’s helpful to me to think in those terms. 

        •  Agreed. This just happened to be a memorable exchange. My wife knows a Christian man who lives in our home whom she might describe as obstinate and unwilling to listen and/or change. He often talks a lot and listens a little.

        • PWooldridge

           True.  No one is perfect, but ones who go on in such negative ways are getting their reward in full.

      • R.H.

        Exact same thing happens to me, even if I don’t bring up religion, my avatar is enough.

        • Your avatar does arouse curiosity. But it’s interesting as well.

          • R.H.

            I was in Makkah, Saudi Arabia at the time, in a store trying on shaded sunglasses and taking selfies, I’m now back in Canada and don’t cover my face. But this is the internet, I must hide identity as much as possible or else I might regret it (I’m a pre-service teacher and would hate to be held back in the future for something as trivial as online gossip/controversy/etc).

  • Without doubt, man is the worst mammal on our planet. The saying that one has to be cruel to be kind only re-enforces our egotistical drive to feel superior over all we survey. Why we quantify a smile with the words ” for a ABC type of person, they are not too bad” amazes me! In general terms, as an observer of those that walk among us, I have noticed that membership to this sports team or that religious following or political party or Tiddly Winks society, gives people the feeling of superiority over others. When these others dare question this ‘membership’ there is a distinct chance that someone is going to get mean.

    Could meanest stem from a deep rooted feeling of inadequacy?

  • DonationCan

    I gave up Facebook because of haters. Not personal haters towards me, but just negative people who hate themselves. I grew tired of the negativity.

    Donation-Can.com

    •  I’m almost at that point. Or to start limiting what I view on Facebook. A lot of it seems to be complaints about things they can but are unwilling to change. Whether that be relationships, careers, etc. It’s just draining.

      •  True. That is why I never got a facebook. When it first came out, I was asked to get one, but I didn’t. It has turned into gossip central for the majority.

        I’ll stick with my blog, and I am getting twitter at the end of this week. That’s all I need. The gossip and complaining can stay away from me! haha

      • Jackie Sill

        I did the “limit” thing. I haven’t given up on Facebook, because it has potential for good–so I use it to leave messages to encourage people I don’t have the ability to have in my real life. 
        Also, it’s invaluable for marketing. It’s the best tool I have to sell my blog and hopefully it will help sell my book when it is published. 
        Use the tool to its fullest and you can hide the haters. 🙂 

        •  Agreed that I see most of my traffic from Facebook. Over 50% of the content shared online is shared via Facebook.

        •  And that’s why I haven’t given up on Facebook yet. The marketing value is astronomical. But I’m also finding value in suing Twitter for marketing except the lifespan of the tweet is so short.

  • I’ve only had one person online be thoroughly disgusted with me enough to say that they never wanted to associate with me again…ever! Looking back I can see how I fueled the fire for that kind of communication.
    The only difference between online and off is that the words said can be saved and shared with countless people. Words in real life has been compared to feathers- easy to throw out, nearly impossible to collect back in because the wind carries them away. I need to remember that my words land on people and can unintentionally cause hurt. I also believe that it’s going to get worse and not better. I think there will be a massive divide between builders and destroyers and we’ll have to consciously decide which side we’re on.

  • When you write from the heart, and express what you feel, you’ll naturally attract people with different viewpoints. The stronger your writing is, the more opposition you’ll face. That being said, I think strong verbal discourse is better than being ignored. Unfortunately there are trolls that just love to pick a fight. That’s what filters are for.

  • Love this. So, so, so much. Especially these lines:

    “No great wars were fought over the virtue of fighting. No epic debates were waged in defense of argument.”

  • Lao Tzu said, “What goes around  comes around.”  Scripture says we’ll reap what we sow. So, no pun intended, I leave the mess alone, unless my input changes something.
    My job is to write, and share, and give, and bleed, and love, and care…
    I tailor who I interact with on line, the same way I do in real life. What excites me is that I get to interact with cool folks like you, and Michael Hyatt, Joe Bunting and Leo Babauta. It inspires me and I create better. And That Rocks! This is such an awesome platform for writers. I’m humbled to be in such company.

    •  He did? I thought my dad invented that saying.

      • LOL We all did.  Tao Te Ching Chapter 30

  • Jeff,

    I agree with the idea that people troll online mainly because they have the ability to talk trash from behind a computer, in the comfort of their own homes. If all discussion were face to face, people would be a lot nicer online. 

    For me, I’m about (fighting for) the integrity of “good business”. About the people, serving the people. The types of businesses that inspire customers and change lives. I just love those types of businesses and brands.

  • There’s something about being being a handle and an avatar that can distance a person.

    From my own experience, the writing community I hang around tend to be less sugar and spice. While civility it kept 99% of the time (since no one wants to be kicked off the site), people tend to be more critical and blunt. 

    Whatever this turns out to be good or bad depends on the situation, but I’m working on trying to find a more neutral ground.

    Also, being able to argue both for and against an issue you feel strongly about it a good skill, since it prevents you from being blinded from your own views. But at the same time, arguing one side or another might require a little more irrationality.

  • The act of expressing opinions online doesn’t change who people are; it amplies the character they already have. Everyone has a right to their thoughts and feelings. How they relate them to other people reflects their state of being at the time of delivery. I control how I receive their message.

  •  I find it really disturbing to see the level of nastiness that people show online. Where does it come from? Would these people be quite so vitriolic face to face? Somehow I doubt it. It is a bit like shouting at other drivers from the safety of your car: at a cocoon remove, you feel free to make remarks you’d never have the guts to say to their faces.

  • Yes, online, people are meaner, bolder, more assertive, and smarter than they are in real life, imho.  Online you can put a lot of thought into that insult, sarcastic statement, and google enough intelligent information to make you appear smarter than you are before posting that status update, tweet, or blog post.  And you see the difference if you have the opportunity to talk to that person in real life.

    Derek Sivers talked about that in Anything You Want.  He wrote:   “It’s dehumanizing to have thousands of people passing through our computer screens so we do things we’d never do if those people were sitting next to us.” – love that book.

    It’s a shame, but it’s true.   

    • R.H.

      lovely, well put! =)

  • I like the point you brought up about the academy. In academia, the second your work gets printed, there are legions of people out there ready to pick you apart. Doesn’t matter which why you argue, somebody out there wants to rip you a new one.

    As a religion major myself, I’ve discovered that people rarely want to engage in CONVERSATION with you. They would rather tell you the “truth” based on their opinion. Haters, sometimes, can’t see past their own worldview and feel the Internet is a great platform to share that with everybody.

  • Eh. I’m a pretty nice guy, and I’ve only met a couple of people in my life that don’t like me. So I don’t encounter “meanness” very often, and especially not online. If someone’s a jerk in general, then I avoid their platform – simple enough.

  • I think that anonymity frees a person up to be who they really are… even if they have to mask it all day at work, home, or wherever.  Some people will be outrageously kind, generous, and encouraging, while others will be spiteful, cantankerous, and downright malicious.  

    Removing the accountability of having to view a person’s response, and how it tears them down, makes it easier to take the humanity out of the equation.  It’s like shouting at a video game or television.  

    It’s crazy how much the internet has done to spread empathy and apathy for our fellow man.

    I’m fighting for everyone to live fully in health, happiness, and adventure, and thus leave a great story of their life. 

  • Being “mean” simply to express hatred is not a good thing ever because it weighs an already negative world down with even more sadness. However & this is a big however, a fair number of bloggers have difficulty tolerating even mild disagreement.

    We grow & expand our POV when others respectfully challenge our beliefs & opinions, censoring blog comments to the point where there is no room for real discussion seems pointless to me. My very favorite sites are those with lively ongoing debates.

  • I totally agree with you Jeff ! Anonymity making them showing who they really are. Like taking off their mask when appearing as anonymity. In my  life, I do meet few friends who are cantankerous. They always post something that I don’t agree at all. Sometimes, I wonder do they ever think before they posting it. I grew tired in negatively. So what I can do is just ignore this kind of jerk. 

  • I agree that the internet allows people more room to be “terse” or flat out mean but I also think that one of the problems with comments (or anything read) is that it can sometime obfuscate intent and leaves some things more open to interpretation by the reader.  That can be a problem.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have read something online (like from a client in an email) where it sounded bad or the client sounded annoyed when in reality, the client wasn’t intending to sound like that.

  • SHEWRITES4U

    Ah…”To be or not to be? That is the question.”

  • After a decade of on-line debating, I found it got me nowhere, deepened no relationships (vertical or horizontal), and generally kept me from any goals or focus I had or needed in life.  I literally gave it up for lent this year, along with on-line sports and political radio. 

    I still read quite a bit on-line and enjoy this blog very much, but I don’t enter into serious debate any longer, and by God’s mercy, I hope to stick to this conviction. 

  • Well, I googled T. Neal Tarver and didn’t find a contentious remark. I don’t know if that’s good or not. I’ve heard being insulted is better than being ignored but the latter doesn’t sting as much. Your point though is clear and understood. I know being in the public arena will also bring public scrutiny, some more acerbic than others. I write what I do for a couple of reasons. One, I like to write. Two, I want to influence people toward Jesus Christ. I had the privilege of asking Jerry Jenkins of “Left Behind” fame how he handled the negative criticism. He said the letters of changed lives helped him maintain balance and endure the critical voices.

  • I know what I’m fighting for and toward. But I’m also writing to get noticed – not for myself, but to add value to others (more people than I am able to reach today).

    It it ok to do both? 😉

  • Cindy Keen Reynders

    I think a lot of people just want to get noticed by being contrary, and that really doesn’t impress me.

  • Perkupsue

    Someone sent me this quote a while back and I think it’s a good one to keep in mind.  I’m sorry that I don’t know where it came from so I can’t give proper credit but I want to share it with the “Tribe”….
           “Don’t try to win over the haters, You are Not the Jerk Whisperer!”

  • Susan48

    For every Jacob there’s an Esau – just the way life is.

  • Whether I make a dime or not. Whether I get noticed or not, I want to spread the message that you can chase your dreams and live the abundant life the Lord wants you to have. I won’t shut up until that message is heard! Thanks for the reminder today Jeff!

  • Good blog, Jeff.  It is downright scary to me the things people can say.  Just that it’s a normal thing now for someone who’s in the media spotlight for a reason less than flattering to get death threats is telling about a lot of people in our society.  And I don’t think the anonymity makes people mean, it just allows them an unrestrained avenue to vent that which they would otherwise control.  The good news, I think, is that if you weren’t saying something important, if you weren’t hitting nerves, the so-called haters wouldn’t care.  I’m so unimportant that I never get hate comments or email.  Well, once. I responded and the hate continued so I just deleted it.  Haha!  The power of the delete button.  Keep on keepin’ on, Jeff.  I can’t see how anyone could ever have a bad thing to say about you.  So if they do, chalk it up to pre-coffee grumpies or somebody who’s ticked off about something else and decides to take it out on the the next person they come in contact with–you.   

  • I agree, I was writing a controversial series last winter and had someone attack me on almost every point, but they would only do so under an anonymous profile. It was very frustrating, but it didn’t matter how often I tried to engage in civil conversation, they just posted their anonymous hate messages and never tried to dialog. It was sad, but the worst part was that the comments only showed up when I shared the link to my posts on my personal Facebook page, so I know it was either a friend or family member that was doing it. 🙁

  • Thanks for this Jeff. I’ve tried to use the word “redemptive” in my approach to blog writing and commenting: “Am I helping this person…” Sometimes I think it is appropriate to offer a sharp reality check, provided it’s respectful.  However, I’ve found that once someone attacks me publicly online, my immediate response is to dig in and fight back, so I’ve had to learn how I’m coming across to others when I leave comments. I’ve found that it’s often way better to take disagreements to e-mail where there is no audience and we can write a bit more at length. 

  • Kim Hall

    I had never seen the “be a spring”. Just love that analogy!

    Ditto to what so many others have said: anonymity amplifies character, or lack thereof.

    Years ago I listened to the Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. If memory serves, he concentrated on providing a quality service as the first important step. From that, he said, all your blessings would flow. Focusing primarily on the money is going about it in a backwards fashion.

    I agree with this. If I am true to my God, and living out the gifts He created within me, and serving as He made me, then I will be abundantly blessed, whether spiritually, financially, relationally, etc.

    Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to
    prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

  • It’s attention-getting behaviour. It’s like the little boy who sees a girl he likes and so he pulls her hair.

    “If I write all this stuff about how I hate this blogger, maybe people will notice me!” Unfortunately it works, so they keep getting encouraged.

  • It’s easy to be mean online when you don’t have a pair of eyes staring back at you. You screen serves as an invisible cloak. Nonetheless, there will always be haters once you take a stand on any issue, passion and belief. Once you are clear on what you are fighting for you will get noticed whether you like it or not. 

    It’s good to keep in mind though that a strong differing opinion from yours does not always equate to someone hating on you. It could just simply be a difference of opinion, though a strong one. 
    That being said, “contentiousness for the sake of being contentious” is not cool.   Great post, it gave me pause to think about whether I have used the cloak of the computer screen to affect others negatively. I do hope not. Love you blog Jeff keep the post coming! 

  • Just wanted to send a short note and let you know I enjoyed the article.  I signed up for your RSS and I am looking forward to reading more.  I am a blogger who tries to overlook haters but they affect me more than I would like.  

  • Great perspective Jeff. I think most of us would acknowledge that the anonymity of the Internet allows for people to do a whole slew of things they wouldn’t do “in real life.”

    I’ve had my fair share of trolls since I write about some pretty controversial issues. In one particular instance, when a hater was being especially mean and nasty, I asked them if I were standing in front of them, face-to-face, they would dare say the same things. Needless to say, that silenced their vitriol pretty quickly.

    As for your point about being right, I love it. I always say, I’m not seeking agreement, but clarity. It is a great motto for my writing.

    • Love how you manage the mess, Nicole. Keep up the great work.

  • Nils

    Nice question Jeff.  From “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz…(#3)

    “Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

     Attempting personal attacks usually means the other person is out of rational ammo. Nothing left but emotional blanks. They aren’t the real enemy in this world anyway.

     From my own experience, as I tried to practice this in my life, I found it often caused others’ anger to increase. Usually with less and less effect on me.  I realized after a while that it was mostly a reaction to the shock of discovering their venom wasn’t poisoning the intended target, but themselves. It’s pretty liberating when you get used to it.

      The admonition to “owe no man anything, but to love one another” is tough to do, but worth trying. Doesn’t mean you have to ‘like’ everybody all the time,does it?

     

  • Someone said  “You can have all your facts right and still be wrong”

    I’ve also read  “Even when you are right, real humility allows for room to be  wrong”We live in a broken world.  People desire significance but are not willing to shaped. So they end up on the  big web, shouting to be heard. Sometimes they get noticed but often at the expense of their own vocal cords and the eardrums of others. Hurting people know how to hurt others .

    i am like you Jeff, I still expect some goodness and decency out of people, no matter what. That’s how it should be, I think. The day we loose such expectation, is the day the world really turns on its head. 

    Great thoughts in this post.

    •  I like the truism: “You can’t be right or you can be in relationship.”

    • R.H.

      That was very well articulated, I agree with you, and I didn’t even notice it until you phrased it that way. Way to go! Thanks

  • At one point I didn’t know what I was fighting for. I’d post random junk on Facebook just to get a rise out of people but that’s changed. I’ve found something to fight for.

    That is encouraging others to live a better life through their leadership, relationships, and faith. 

    •  I did the same — randomly trying to get people to notice me. It wasn’t very effective.

  • JSCowan

    Yikes! How do you cope?

  • If you take away law and order, a society will implode. Sadly, I don’t think we have evolved much from the dark ages. You will always have those that prosper in anarchy and chaos. You you just have to watch the news. Online is like the new world. It gets wild there. People are braver than what they would be on the street. See, on the street they would get their head stomped in, but online, they can threaten, ridicule, insult and torment without fear of consequence. 

    True character is also revealed online. Spiderman’s uncle Ben told him with great power comes great responsibility. Similarly, with freedom there is responsibility too. Abusing it by abusing others not only reveal who you are, but in the long run, it will halter freedom. It is sad because the Internet is a great place, or can be a great place. Exchanging ideas and opinions freely are awesome. Having rude people spoil the experience, not so much.

    *Steps down from soapbox*  😉

  • Back in 2005, I ran a political blog. If you think you have haters try political blogging then you will know what haters really are. I broke a huge story and some of the haters posted my kids pictures and what they thought was my home address online. I was contacted by the FBI and they investigated and had to protect the family that lived at the address that was reported as mine. Scared my wife to death, she is just warming up to the idea of me blogging again.

    One day I may get back into political blogging but for now I blog about much happier topics.

    Remember, YOU CAN DELETE comments and you should if they become hateful and threatening. Make sure to keep a copy for the police, FBI, and Secret Service, they are wonderful people and are very professional it you ever have the occasion of meeting them.

    I’m not trying to scare anyone, just be aware, and whatever you do, don’t let haters stop you from pursuing your passions and goals in life. I know what I’m fighting for, I kiss them goodnight everyday.

  • I strongly believe that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  So what ever a person is saying says more about them than it does about me.  That doesn’t make nastiness easy to handle, but it does give me some perspective, it is about them and not me. 

    It also give me pause before I hit ‘send’. I try to ask, what do these words say about my own heart and is there something I need to deal with privately rather than exposing it naked on the social media street corner.  I have to confess that has stopped me from posting more than once.  I’m glad for it too.

  • DeborahLynn27

    There are haters everywhere … best to shift our focus to all that is good and beautiful … there is enough ugly in this world … not something we have to go out find … looking forward to the
    time when the scale is tipped to the beautiful and the ugly is an anomoly. HaHa!!! Yeah!! 

  • sweetpeasanspod

    Of course we can all be passionate about we believe, and spill it out into comment boxes, but let’s remember that we are arguing our point face to face, we are able to communicate fully. That is, we pick up facial expressions, subtle changes, we are able too look into someone’s eyes.  This vital part of communicating is lost in writing, and as we are all aware, some are better able to express themselves than others.  
       Being “mean” well, that’s life.  The “wheat” and the “chaff” and the “sheep” and the “goats” we are all in this together in our universal farmyard. 

    Obviously, if one is “mean” it is usually a “reaction”. You, or someone has pressed the many buttons we call beliefs.   Lets be frank about it …your truth, is your truth, and others are “free” to believe theirs.   If you put your beliefs out publicly, it is fair game. The mean person, may not be mean tomorrow.  Who is?  There are thousands of people working things out as we speak.  Writing in comment pages, invites comment from all quarters.  Labelling them as “haters” starts the adverserial game.  They are what they are.  You are free to delete them, filter them, if you feel that they don’t follow the rules of the game.   If one is apt to get too personal and attack people, well 
    no one will put up with it, however, if they are mean, is the judgement called for.  
       Perception.  Where are they coming from?   If there is no real argument one is apt to judge it on those merits.  
    Some of the most creative people on the planet can be mean.  It is not a permanent condition however.   

    Jeff, if you press buttons, inadvertently well that’s good. It means people are firing up, 
    listening, thinking but “reacting” instantly may not always be the right thing. They are human.  They can be “wallys”  and if they want their fifteen minutes of fame, rest assured they will be off when the game gets too boring for them.  

    All grist to the mill, especially in writing.   Lest we just be preaching to the converted… even the Shakespearean fool,  had much to teach us.

  • I’ve heard a lot of people say you have to be controversial to have a popular blog. I’ve always thought, “Really? Certainly there is enough fighting in this world that my blog does not need to contribute to it…” How far do I want to go just to get noticed? A great question to ask and to remind myself who I am and who I want to be and how that trickles down to small decisions like what kind of response to write on other people’s blogs…..

  • To be honest, I have never seen online bashing (unless it is celebrity stuff). No one has ever sent me hate mail or anything…I would imagine that it does occur frequently though. It is really ridiculous. That is why our Christian blogs need to be a place free from that stuff.

    Great thoughts!

  • People definitely hide behind blog comments and use the anonymity of it all as a wall to protect/disguise themselves. The reverse is also true.

    Some people tread very carefully in their online commenting and feedback, fearful of the perceptions of their peers if they make negative comments and believing it may affect their public profile as a result.

    The downside of this is that I find I get too much positive feedback on my blog and not enough critiquing so it’s hard to tell where to improve my craft.

    • Thanks, Russell. You’re right: Criticism can make us better.

  • Navya

    There is a line between expressing your opinion sensibly and making a sardonic comment and writing outright hateful and hurtful stuff. 
    Haters are usually cynics, they have either lost something or they have been wronged and the negativity creeps into everything they say and do. I know a classmate of mine who, after his girlfriend dumped him, became cynical and constantly posted hurtful comments about women, so much so, that I stopped visiting his Facebook page. I was saddened to see such a nice person turn into someone so sad. Haters may think that they are berating someone by the things they say, but in reality they are the ones who are surrounding themselves with all the negative vibrations and it is a well-known and scientifically proven fact that if you think positive, positive things happen to you and if you think negative, negative things happen to you. It may be easy to destroy someone’s reputation by writing bad things about them. But truth will stand the test of time and when you’ve weathered the storm, all that will remain for everyone to see is the truth and honesty that you want to share with the world. And as someone said in one of the previous comments, if they are writing hateful things only for their fifteen minutes of fame, then they will disappear. We know where they belong. They’ve said their say. It is up to you whether you want to be affected by it. 
    Truth never changes, truth always triumphs. For every hater out there, there are so many others who applaud the good work you’re doing here. Keep it up! 

    •  Well said, Navya. I agree with your assessment of “haters.”

  • MaDonna Maurer

    I read one of your articles a few days/weeks ago and was going to comment something encouraging…but as I read through the comments, and the replies I declined. There was just meanness being thrown around by others, not you. I was afraid of having someone “bash” me. So, I apologize because I didn’t comment…I’m going to go and try to find that article and I’ll leave my comment…it’s not astounding or anything huge, but if more people write their encouragements, then maybe the “hard” comments won’t cut so deep.
    Thanks for the post…

    •  MaDonna, I’m sorry to hear this. You never think about how other comments may prevent people from feeling safe. Thank you for sharing this.

  • asrai

    Someone is always going to disagree. someone is always going to be mean. It’s easier online because you don’ t face the sad face or the angry retort. There is little recourse for stupidity online. I’ve had some nasty messages both mean and just gross online. 

    I had someone call something I wrote “incrediably juvenile” becuase I used YOUR instead of YOU”RE. yay. I always said I hadn’t really made it until people started giving me bad reviews. 

  • Hereiamloulou

    Jeff,

    It’s simple – online gives the weak a pseudo-power.
    The delusional become even more so and think they have the right to be nasty and disgusting.
    They are gutless creatures that find something in their pea brains to think they are correct.
    They think they are superior and they won’t be over powered or found out.
    They would never say these things to ones face – ever – as they are really weak.
    They are not strong – and can not handle competition.  It’s called life.  The competition of living life.

    Delete is a great power that we can possess and ignore the gnats.  Keep on keeping on.

    Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson couldn’t care less about the nay-sayers, the mean or the knockers – they remain positive and great and NEVER take their eye off the ball.

    Great writing as usual – you got it spot on.

    My motto for my life is “stay wonderful, leave the ordinary for the others”.

    regards

    Loulou

  • I’m seeing something really interesting here. 

    Denise’s comment: ”
    Yes, online, people are meaner, bolder, more assertive, and smarter than they are in real life, imho. ”  taken together with Michele’s comment: ”
    The act of expressing opinions online doesn’t change who people are; it amplies the character they already have.” leads me to a conclusion about our online personalities. 
    This medium shelters cowardly meanies, yes. But it also provides a platform for those who are always the listeners, seldom the speakers, to venture forth with their thoughts, no? Remember that quiet girl in  your literature class who never contributed to discussion all semester, until the last week of class, when she raised her hand and offered the most incisive commentary on “The Hollow Men” that anyone, including the professor, had ever heard?Those people get to speak up here, too. I like to find and cultivate them–but it is a bit like searching for four-leaf clovers. 

  • Congrats on the RELEVANT article!
    The whole vitriol of the blogosphere can get a little old to me. I would advise people who want to get into blogging to take some time to just read a bunch of blogs before diving in. That way, they can get a feel for what they like and what they don’t. So often we get so caught up in having a digital megaphone that we forget how unpleasant it is to turn it into a soapbox.

  • YES YES YES people are significantly meaner on the internet. It’s gotten to the point where someone sent me a “hey there’s a typo” email and reiterated three times that he wasn’t trying to be a jerk but he just wanted to help me spell disclosure.

  • If you think it’s bad in blogging, read a news article (MSNBC for instance) and watch people bash the victim or rip apart the ALLEGED perp with no first hand knowledge. It really breaks my heart for the people involved. 

    I also posted about this at my blog, Giving the Gift of Grace.  It uses the THINK before you post principle.  THINK = True, helpful, inspiring, nice, kind.

    Thanks for addressing this. 

  • Great post, and a lot of really thoughtful comments here too. I’ve thought about this before too, and I think it can sometimes just feel like there’s more haters online. A lot of this is because of the same reasons that we can have more positive connections as well – The Internet scales very well. Sadly, I’ve also seen people be just as mean without the veil of anonymity as well.

  • Thanks for this, Jeff. I’m new to blogging, but I’m amazed at some of the nastiness out there in cyberspace. Who knew people were so angry?

  • Thanks for this, Jeff. I’m new to blogging, but I’m amazed at some of the nastiness out there in cyberspace. Who knew people were so angry?

  • Yes, people can be VERY mean online.  I believe it’s because they don’t have to say it to your face.  

  • Cecilia

    There are probably many people out there that would think you (us) are naive for believing that generosity and love will win but I believe we are as many as them. We just need to show up more and be brave enough to stand up for what we believe in.

  • It’s true. With the availability of exposure, disconnect, and optional anonymity of the internet, people can slap you across the face, pat you on the back, and/or say anything they want without having to own up to it or ever face you in person. Personally, I highly value a constructive, mind opening discussion/argument, and I’ve learned every time I pose a statement/argument rather than a question, I am almost always proven wrong or thrown down. A lot of an audience’s response is in how the topic is presented. If you come out in battle armor or stand on a pedestal in shiny clothes, people will take you down. Pride always comes before a fall, while the humble inherit the earth. 

  • JamesPrescott77

    One crucial mistake is when we mistake the online world for the virtual world – the digital space, the online realm, is real – as are our interactions there. That’s the point – people aren’t being meaner in some world that doesn’t exists (if they are being meaner), what they are doing is real and has real implications for others.

    We make a dangerous mistake when we say the online world isn’t real, or call it ‘virtual reality’. It’s simply not true.

  • JamesPrescott77

    One crucial mistake is when we mistake the online world for the virtual world – the digital space, the online realm, is real – as are our interactions there. That’s the point – people aren’t being meaner in some world that doesn’t exists (if they are being meaner), what they are doing is real and has real implications for others.

    We make a dangerous mistake when we say the online world isn’t real, or call it ‘virtual reality’. It’s simply not true.

  • I know that I want all peoples everywhere to connect in respect and supportive compassion for world peace–and I comment accordingly.  The most negative comment I have ever had was from someone stating she did not care for the all caps I chose for one of my post titles!  That is it!  I must have a very powerful guardian angel in cyberspace.

  • Haters aside, every since i started  blogging i realized that other newbie bloggers, leave a blank lifeless comment just to receive traffic on their site. I wish more of my followers were a critique of my work than a common spectator.

  •      I call this the Glass Wall Effect.  I worked in a bank drive through for several years and people will say things when there is a glass wall between you that they will not say face to face.  It was interesting. 

         I see it stemming  from a lack of moral forward thinking, or the belief that there are no consequences for words on a white screen.  But I feel that this is just another aspect of the human condition without Christ.

         Thank you for putting into words whats been in my head.

  • I actually look forward to receiving my first “hate” post — that will mean I’ve actually made it, & said something that stirred someone enough to take the time to tell me so. I likewise look forward to rejection letters — I plan to frame them as proof that I not only completed a project, but went so far as to submit it. Rejection & hate mail aren’t a display of how much you suck. Rather, they are a show of how much you are willing to put yourself out there, work through the pain, & keep getting back up after each fall. Rejection & hate mail are validation that you have lived with no regrets. 

    Andi-Roo
    /// @theworld4realz

    https://www.theworld4realz.com/

    theworldforrealz@gmail.com

  • People are meaner online than they are in real person. Same as people are meaner on email than in real person, and over the phone, than in real person. Those barriers cause people to believe that they can hide behind the mediums communication and get away with it.

  • Tess

    If you cannot say anything good to further the ideal of  ‘love’ and ‘truth’ then do not say it at all. Most people who are mean online are really cowards in real life, and your, mine and their truth might all be different.  They have forgotten the words, treat others as you would be treated.

    There are millions ‘out there’ living really desperate lives, awaiting their chance to judge, critisize and spew their venom on anyone who will listen, as they do not have another outlet to do it, as no ‘live’ person will put up with it.  They actually think that there will be no repercussions to their actions, are not enlightened enough to care what they do, and do not take responsibility for their actions, as they know not what they do.  And remember, while you are fighting for the good, there are those who will want to take you down, into their private hell, as they do not understand your ‘message’ and have lost faith in the world and  the love of the truth.

    Non of us are perfect, they are actually to be pitied, as they are probably living their hell on earth. But it is just another lesson in life of what is and is not. What you want to be or not, that is the question?

    You cannot let them change you, and bring you down to their level, as once you have reached that ‘higher’ spiritual awareness, you cannot go back, and need to enlighten others, which is what you do by raising the questions we all need to anwer and answer truthfully.

    • R.H.

      you are beautiful
      thank you !

  • Aaditrance

    people fight over the internet because they do not care about you, they are never gonna run into you, what you feel afterwards is your problem really. Everyone puts up so much in real life,  that they absolutely have to blow steam over the net, or they will go crazy in the real world which would be more hurtful to them than giving a new hole to an absolute stranger, like how I am gonna do right here: you dumb piece of shit, I wish I could come out of the monitor and hit you with a motherfucking brick. Phew, felt good, to the real world now.

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    Probably because they take advantage of freedom of speech, I did that and I won’t make that mistake again.

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  • Sharon Popolow

    People naturally mean and judgmental components- some more than others. We think very dark and ugly thoughts about others. Thank goodness, we have a conscience that filters these thoughts enough to let them become actions and/or statements more often than not. However, the anonymity of the internet allows that “id” to surface without repurcussion. We can be as mean as we want to without being directly in front of someone’s face saying it (which is tough, and usually left only to the most shameless of us). There were studies on killing another human done. It gets harder to kill the person when there is no space between you and the other- ie pushing a button to drop a bomb was the easiest and pummeling someone with your hands was the hardest. What the internet does is takes away the proximity and visibility of all parties to make verbal bashing and bullying easier.

  • reneeroseh

    I have recently been following the story of Rory and Joey Feek…the country artist who passed away last Friday (March 5, 2016) of terminal cervical cancer). For those who do not know the story, they were a pretty famous country singing duo. Not long after the birth of their daughter, Joey was diagnosed with the disease. Rory, her husband blogged their story up until the end. People magazine came out with an article not long ago and I was incredibly ticked off at some of the horrific comments made. It’s the first I’d seen of anything like this toward them. Tens of thousands were following their story with love and support and until today, I hadn’t seen any hatred. I read how Rory was “narcissistic” for blogging their life and news updates and just wanted to get paid. How Joey shouldn’t have had a baby at 38, because she was too old and should have known she’d have a down syndrome child. I read how macabre Rory was for showing photos of his near death wife and how it was “too much information.” Those were the BEST of the bad comments. Some were too awful to repeat. I was floored. I do not believe these people would have said the same thing to their face, but it’s ok to print it in public. Terrible.

  • TayTay

    Yeah people are very nasty online. I’ve been called a troll (mostly on a forum), people kept throwing insults in my face (calling me childish, a brat, disruptive, rude blah blah blah), and they kept harassing me for about 3 days. It couldn’t be worse than Zamii070. She been harassed by far more people than me. Even worse, they sent her death threats and called her names. WTF is wrong with people these days? I wonder who they are behind that computer screen…

  • rosse

    I understand how nasty people can be, too. It’s terrible. I uploaded a picture of myself to a chat site like many others do, joined a room and said hello. The whole room attacked me with comments about how fat and ugly I am, asking me if I was pregnant (which I am not), and then stating how if I was, it wouldn’t be planned since no one would love me. Really? Cried for about an hour after logging out. Came back to them doing it to someone else. It’s pathetic. Mostly women, but guys too. Not only that, but all the sexual harassment. What’s the point?