One day into publishing my first blog post this certainly was not the message I was expecting from one of my friends. Congratulations sure, brave – well she left me a little shocked and wondering why I was being brave.
“The online world is nasty, get ready for the backlash.”
Backlash? Even more shocked and taken aback I wondered what I could possibly write that would evoke a backlash.
In the three years of my blog being online there has been very little backlash. Constructive conversations yes, but no backlash. And I am grateful.
Yet my words have trickled into the online freelance space and well I’m not sure if it has been backlash that I have received, but it certainly has not been constructive conversation. Being told that I am raising murderers, I am raising disrespectful boys, I contradict myself and that I need to step back and take a good hard look at my parenting – all have come my way.
I have a fairly thick skin and quickly read the emails or the comments and move on. I respect that these comments are more about the person writing them than they are about me.
Yet, online backlash is very real to some and the situations so severe that even a thick skin cannot protect you from the negativity. It is these situations that often make we wonder – where do we draw the line?
Our sense of entitlement these days seems to override our sense of respect. And while I respect our right to disagree and promote healthy conversation, when our words are hurtful and do nothing to promote healthy conversation I have to ask – should these words be said at all?
Our online space seems to be dominated with negativity, more so than anything else. We contribute to a running dialogue of mothers against mothers, friends against friends and ego against ego. Once upon a time our life choices were simply that – our life choices. Now our choices are a gauntlet for taking down the choices of others.
Only last week I read about a mother who was berated and attacked over cupcakes. Cupcakes she baked for her little girl to take to kindergarten. Delicious, fluffy, oh so yummy cupcakes – we really have lost our sense of reality if cupcakes are poisoning us against each other.
It seems that this online negativity hides behind the cloak and dagger of exactly that – being online. It is just a comment on social media – get over it – it doesn’t matter.
But it does matter, especially to the person on the receiving end of those words. Words always matter. Whether they are spoken or they are written down. I even believe that words we say in the quiet of our hearts matter.
I wonder if we were to take some of these mudslinging attacks from the online space and have the same conversation in real life, face to face, would they play out in the same way. Would we even have some of these conversations at all?
If the avalanche of negativity continues online will we see ourselves heading towards a future where liability and compensation are something that are battled over in a legal arena – simply because of something someone said online. Where will we draw the line?
Do our online words matter?
Have you experienced online negativity?
Is our right to an opinion more important than anything else?
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Firths The Compensation Lawyers. Their team of lawyers are compensation specialists and have recovered over $1 billion in compensation for tens of thousands of Australians. All opinions expressed are my own.