Know how you hear actors talk about fame? They say, ‘I only wanted to act. I didn’t want all this fame stuff.’ And we think, poor baby, right? All those millions, travel, stuff. It’s a real bummer. We feel like saying, ‘Shut up and be grateful!’ but I never do, especially when I see these celebs fighting for the privacy of their children.
I’m in no way famous. But as an author, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the dark side of having your name out there.
I wrote my first book. Then my second. Then my most successful, my bestselling third book Broken Pieces. I started a social media/branding/marketing business (using my 20+ years of marketing plus my creative side = fun for me), and I love it. I love every minute of writing, connecting with readers and other authors, networking, working with amazing clients, occasional travel to writing conferences, writing regularly for the Huffington Post, San Francisco Book Review, Self Publisher’s Monthly, BookPromotion.com, my own two websites, a weekly radio show with AudioWorld’s Bennet Pomerantz, and even more I can’t name because I’ll scare myself at my to do list!
I do all this because I love sharing the tips I’ve learned with other authors, and if they can’t afford to pay me, I can provide at least provide great, free resources to help them.
I’m thrilled that I’m able to make a living for me and my family on my writing and business. I’m still in awe that people say they love my work and that I have fans. How is that even possible? I’m truly humbled by it all.
And then…come the haters. The bullies. The stalkers. The negative people who are, for whatever reason, upset about how I live my life or how I do business. I see this happen to my author friends all the time, too and I think…why? What is in it for the detractors?
Last week, Bennet and I were honored to chat with Jay Donovan (owner of Techsurgeons) who specializes in helping people in bullying and stalker type situations, along with being a tech genius. You can listen to the show here (it’s only 30 minutes) and it gives really good insight into why people bully, the types of bullies (narcissists, psychopaths, etc) and how best to handle, particularly online.
Here’s what I learned: while it’s best to ignore a bully and not engage them directly, Jay does suggest letting others know that you are being bullied. There’s no reason to protect the bully, in other words. As someone who believe strongly in The Four Agreements, particularly to not take anything personally — I believe that what people say about us says far more about them than us.
Bullies typically have huge egos and very high self-esteem — as if we live in their kingdom and must obey their rules. Their favorite M.O. is spreading unfounded or unsupported rumors online.
What to do: whatever it is that you’ve always done. This latest person had an issue with something she assumed I’ve done on Twitter (something that I didn’t actually do), but rather than engage with her in a case of ‘she said, she said,’ I addressed it once on my Facebook wall so my friends and followers would know if they heard about it what the real situation is, and that was it. I wasn’t even going to write about it here, but others encouraged me to at least discuss the situation because so many others are dealing with it.
Remember, we cannot control what others say or do. It’s on us to be who we are and offer no explanation #AuthenticityRocks
Stalkers are different. They tend to have more psychopathic tendencies — they don’t care that someone is freaked out by them because that is their goal — their emotional value system is completely missing. Stalkers generally have low self-esteem and if their connection to their victim ends, they feel as if their identity has been stolen from them and they’ll do whatever they can to get it back.
In my own experience with stalkers, law enforcement advises NO CONTACT. Do not engage them in any way, block them at every turn, fix your privacy settings online to as strict as possible, and never give out your real home address — have a PO Box for any mail having to do with your online life. Or hire someone like Jay to help you.
As for how these situations have affected me? I’ve become far less trusting — something that I’ve struggled with anyway for most of my life due to childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a neighbor. Though that is a completely separate issue, I’ve been burned more than once for trusting that someone online is as ‘normal’ as they initially seem.
If you find yourself asking the typical, ‘Why me?’ question in the face of these situations, look closely at your actions. Did you do something that set somebody off? Perhaps, though I avoid flame wars at all cost. Sometimes, we never know if a single tweet or statement can set someone off. While I don’t believe in self-censorship, I also don’t believe in flaming others. As adults, it’s on us to take responsibility for what we have done to contribute to difficult situations.
However, we are never, ever, ever responsible for someone else’s actions or behavior. It’s not our fault that someone as an issue with us. We don’t owe anybody an explanation for our life choices, especially some stranger we neither know or respect.
There’s definitely a dark side to being online and if we’re not careful, we can be pulled into it. Don’t. Walk away. Surround yourself with support and help. Handle it privately (block people, remove yourself from groups, fix your privacy settings, etc.), and then keep doing your thing. I’m not into inspirational stuff (I feel we all have to find our own inspiration, and a trite saying rarely helps), but I do believe we should trust ourselves.
Above all, remember that if someone is trash talking, hating, or bullying you, they are teaching you a lesson in how NOT to be #RiseAbove.
‘They can’t succeed in taking my inner peace from me. They can say all they wanna say about me. I’m gonna carry on.’~ Christina Aguilera (Keep On Singin’ My Song)
(There’s a line between someone hating on you and actually libeling and bullying. Take action: StopBullying.gov has tons of great info!)