Blogland is such a wonderful place when everything runs smoothly. Bloggers blog, we read each other's posts, followers, commenters, lurkers and all those lovely people that skip in and skip out of our daily posts bring with them opinions, ideas and sometimes just plain simple encouragement when encouragement is most needed.
BUT, and yes that is a great big BUT, it has a dark side. Every day for the past month I have had to spend five minutes skimming through tons of Spam, deleting it and clearing things away before getting down to the business of writing a post. I could leave it to build up and have a mammoth all in one go deleting session, but every now and then in amongst all the negative dross, comments asking my readers to link back to sites where their computers would be at risk, links to sites where they would be offered viagra and other things that if they actually wanted they could find for themselves from much more legitimate places, there is a delightful comment from a new reader that I simply won't let be lost somewhere out there in cyberspace.
And there is an even darker side, there is bullying, it goes on .... nasty people leaving comments anonymously thinking they are safe to do so, thinking that hiding behind the magic word 'Anonymous' means they can't be traced, can't be brought to task and can't be outed. NOTHING you delete from your computer is EVER truly deleted. If complaints are brought and legal action taken you CAN and you WILL be found.
And then there is the darkest side of all .... false accusations of bullying with no proof, just insidious hints that lead back to a person that is completely innocent of any wrongdoing, save that of standing up for their own opinions, rights and families. Now THAT is the darkest side of all. Innocent commenters and readers are drawn into the libel, because make no mistake that is what it is, and malicious rumours spread, making this once joyous interesting place a darker more menacing one.
Ella Woodward on her Deliciously Ella blog post today has hit the nail on the head, talking about the negative side of social media. It has made many bloggers take a break in the last few months, some are reappearing now after a well deserved break, but others are gone for good, fed up with the negative comments and hurtful remarks. In this country it seems so many like to help a person climb a ladder of success only to immediately join in with those who want nothing more than to topple them right back down again.
We have a level of power as Bloggers, we can delete comments that we feel are hurtful or negative, we can block some individuals from reading our blogs, we can alter our settings to stop spam or anonymous comments appearing unannounced at the bottom of our posts. If all that is not enough we can choose to go private or to simply stop when the going gets too tough.
I usually try to nip things in the bud if some nasty anonymous comment appears by answering back with a jokey remark. I hold my hands up to occasionally deleting a comment that has total negative connotations, but extremely rarely. I feel that people should have a voice, but I have always lived by the saying that 'if you have nothing nice to say you should say nothing at all', it has stood me in good stead and will hopefully continue to do so.
Like Suky the Pug at the top of this post, only if you can look someone fully and truthfully in the eyes and tell it as it is ... should you tell it at all.