Trolls and Adversity

This evening I spent a large chunk of time surfing through a variety of websites, perusing my feed reader and Googling stories for Green week this week. My perusing led me down a rabbit trail that, honestly, I’ve wanted to talk about but events of recent days now compell me to talk about.

Internet fame is a touchy thing. Some people call internet fame “being an a-lister”. This kind of fame belongs to a subjective selection of blogs that meet certain unexplained criteria for prominence.

Everyone has their own criteria, it seems. Sometimes it’s traffic. Sometime it’s the community. Other times it’s the noticeability of people. I’ve often been called an a-lister and I’d imagine it would be for the latter reason.

On Friday, the big story was how Profy writers Cyndy Aleo-Carriera, Leslie Poston and Triston McIntyre walked out for reasons that all seem to lead back to Profy cutting pay and upping posting requirements.

Chaos ensued as Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins wrote a piece on Mashable “breaking the news.” It was neutral in the fashion that the Los Angeles Times is neutral about the war in Iraq. In other words, it was veiled neutrality. Though I doubt the story was malicious, it caused controversy and accusations of shoddy journalism to be bandied around by those involved.

In a conversation with one of the Profy writers over the weekend, I commented in my laissez-faire sort of way, “Welcome to the big time. Everyone gives a-listers a hard time until they feel the same heat.”

Though the writer acknowledged that it was fine and expected, it still was surprising.

Ironically, one of the Profy writers, Cyndy, had a guest post on Louis Gray’s blog titles Everyone Wants to be Internet Famous referencing this chilling, yet amazing New York Times story from Friday about trolls on the internet.

I encourage everyone to read the Times piece and not simply close your eyes because you don’t like what you see. Sun Tzu said Know Your Enemy. There’s important nuggets in the post such as Fortuny’s Green Hair Theory.

The takeaway from the story is if you don’t let trolls get to you, and you don’t care what they say, eventually they go away. I’ve recently had my own experience with trolls and this is exactly the approach I’ve taken. I also half expect to become a target of this trolling group for even shining a light on it.

At the end of the day, the take away is that those who enjoy prominence on the internet do it with a certain sacrifice that they knowingly make, Kathy Sierra, for as much as I love her, had a naiveté to her that invited the harassment and then reacted exactly as the trolling intended. Vanessa Fox took the opposite approach, however, and when she realized that people were looking for nude pictures of her, decided to own the day by registering vanessafoxnude.com as her personal domain.

I’d add to Steve Hodson’s points of becoming internet famous by saying, expect you will be targeted. Embrace being targeted. People will hate success and use your success to undermine you. You can’t do anything about them, but you can do something about yourself.

How do you cope with attacks and flames? Do you ignore and hope they go away? Do you fight fire with fire? In the case of the Profy writers, they were not A-list but suddenly they were noticed in a somewhat negative way. If you’re a Profy writer, how do you handle that?

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