Trolling … the buzz word of the moment. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it and a view on whether it’s part of the territory or if it is wrong. I experience it most days, but is there a difference between trolling and opinion?
Now gossip is part of life and we all do it.
We all pass judgement on people, whether it be about Carol across the road and her late night visitors, or what we think about Kim KW and her latest body quest. Most of the time it’s not done maliciously, but at what point does it become trolling?
As influencers (I seriously hate that word but for the purpose of this post it works), we put ourselves online. We share aspects of our lives and we are happy to reap any rewards that come from that. I don’t have kids, but I do see the mummy bloggers on Instagram and damn that shit can be lucrative! Pop a kid out, share photos and watch as the prams, toys, even holidays come rolling in. Some have made their family their career and are paid handsomely for it … regardless of whether they declare those ads or not. We have these picture perfect families all over the internet and it’s only natural that people are going to have their opinions on this.
Then there’s the beauty and fashion influencers.
We see these amazing press trips, designer clothes and endless PR ‘gifts’ and there are times we might feel envious or even frustrated that brands we love spend so much money on influencers. I’m small fry in the blogging world but I get some amazing products sent to me and I can imagine that this must piss some people off, especially if they’re not part of this industry and don’t fully understand how it works. I get that. I really get that.
We have chosen to put our lives online and even if it’s just a tiny part of our lives, it’s natural that people are going to have opinions. I’ve made the mistake of sharing way too much about myself – things that no-one ever needed to know about and I’m still paying the price for that. I have no-one to blame for that but myself. I’ve also been a pretty crappy person at times and have been mean to people who didn’t deserve it or felt the need to make every opinion I had public. I did that … no-one made me and I’ve deserved a LOT of the backlash that I’ve had.
However, there has to be a line.
A line between having an opinion about somebody or about a situation and getting nasty, personal and abusive. There are websites set up purely for people to bash influencers and this is where it gets a bit icky for me. I fully accept that as influencers we should be held accountable for our actions and I’ve no issue with that. I’ve got no issue with people wanting to pass comment on the bad things that I have done. I don’t even care that things from 2 years ago are still being used against me, and that people can’t see (or don’t know about) steps I have taken to make things better. I put it out there in the first place so I have to expect consequences and opinions.
I do have an issue though when the comments go beyond things I have done and start involving my family. People take little snippets of information and weave themselves a whole story. They don’t even care that they’re actually wrong, but these ‘opinions’ are then out there on the internet for others to read. I’ve seen comments criticising people’s children (even their unborn children), speculating on someone’s sexuality, their finances … that’s when it gets too far.
These people who think they’re innocently having a discussion about a YouTuber or blogger would not like it if the shoe was on the other foot. Imagine standing at the school gates and hearing all the other mums loudly discussing whether your husband is having an affair, how badly behaved your children are, what a state your house is … it would hurt.
Sometimes, this gossiping or trolling can come across as jealously but I don’t think that is always the case.
We can’t always say someone is jealous just because they don’t like us. There’s lot of people I know that I don’t like, but it doesn’t mean that I am jealous of them. We also have to accept that not everyone will agree with what we say or do. What we can’t do as influencers is immediately put every criticism or difference of opinion down to jealously … or trolling. If I post a selfie and someone tells me that they prefer it when I wear a nude lipstick as opposed to a red one, that’s not trolling. When they say I look like a man or have too many chins (which I’m more than aware of), that’s just mean and there’s no need for it. If you show a picture of your bedroom and someone suggests a way in which they think your furniture could be arranged better, that’s not trolling, it’s opinion and there’s a huge difference.
We can’t expect to share our lives, rake in the brand deals (I wish), and, in some cases (not mine), earn a bloody good living without expecting feedback. There is absolutely nothing wrong with people having a different view to us and it’s from these differing views that we can learn things about ourselves, life, the world … Imagine how bland the world would be if we all agreed and had the same opinion. Variety is the spice of life after all. We also can’t put every slightly mean comment down as trolling or bullying. Nobody makes us go read these threads about ourselves. I wish that I’d never been told about mine as I’m that person who if you say don’t look … well I go and look. You do need a thick skin in this business and if you can’t handle people mocking you, or being mean about you, then sweetie the internet is not the place for you.
What we shouldn’t have to deal with is people trying to find out our home address, our families, the schools children go to … that’s crossing the line. An influencer is consistently not declaring their ads, then hell yes report them to the ASA, but one email is enough – you don’t need to email them 5 times a day. I don’t even get ads and I think I’m actually grateful for that. Someone buying their followers? Call them out if you want, but don’t turn it into a witch hunt as half the time the brands don’t even care.
I struggle to understand why people follow influencers who they don’t like … just hit unfollow and leave them to it. Life is too short to have a feed full of people who annoy you. I’m not saying we should only ever expect positive comments as I don’t think that’s good for us either … some egos are big enough as it is, but there is no need for the purely hateful comments either.