Be Loud

I’ve had a few follow-up discussions on the fandom/bullying issue with friends, and keep bumping into what most of us acknowledge is the core of the problem: we know that ignoring bullies is best, we know that what they want is attention. But somehow, not saying anything winds up only giving them an open field in which to wreck mayhem.

And that led me back to thinking about something I’ve known for a long time now: love, and positive emotions, may be more powerful than hate/negative ones, but hate is usually louder.

If I’m looking at reviews of coffee pots on Amazon, I don’t always remember to factor in that people are far more likely to write a review complaining about something than they are to write glowing praise. You buy a toaster and it works, doing exactly what you wanted it to do, you don’t necessarily trot over to Amazon to say so. But boy howdy, if it doesn’t work, you’re right there, telling the world. And yet, 25 negative reviews out of 300 positive ones is enough to have me rethinking the purchase. For whatever reason, the negative carries more weight, and drowns out the positive.

We see the same thing  at Bonesology far more often than we like. People will be responding positively to an episode, talking about what they enjoyed, and someone will pop up and say, ‘I didn’t like it because X,’ and suddenly the thread is dominated by what people were disappointed by.

Just to be clear, the people who didn’t like it have the right to say so. We all respond differently to things, and true dialogue requires expression of all views.  And unhappy people should be correct when they say, ‘my not liking it shouldn’t affect those who did.’

But somehow, that’s not how it works. I’ve never forgotten the two people who sent me private messages after the Bones season six finale saying they were taking a break from the board for a while because while they were over-the-moon happy with the pregnancy, a very loud, very vocal, very angry protester who hated it was spoiling it for them.

This is why we attempt to walk a line between allowing negative responses, and in trying to prevent people from dwelling on them – that ability of a single unhappy person to drag down an entire thread.

So what does this have to do with trolls and bullying?

Just this: I think the same thing comes into play here. If a troll is active, or someone is being bullied, and no one responds out of a fear of giving the troll the attention they want, they still win because the field is left open and all anyone then sees is the hate.

And if you’re the person who’s being bullied, even if you tell yourself that silence from others doesn’t mean agreement…it’s easy for the idea that maybe they do agree to grow louder in your head. (“Maybe I am alone here. Maybe everyone does agree that I’m worthless.”)

It makes me wonder if the best approach is somehow to drown out the bullies and trolls with kindness and/or positive comments for the victim – without interacting with the troll directly.  If I’m the one who’s being harassed, no, I’m not going to dignify the attack with a response. But if someone else is being attacked, I’m going to let the victim know I’m in their corner. I’m going to interact with them, encourage them, whatever. Just flood them with kindness and the reassurance that the bully isn’t speaking for everyone.

It seems like the more people stand with a victim of bullying and say, ‘you’re not alone, the bully doesn’t define you,’ the less power the bully has. But we have to take the time to reach out to those who are being victimized.

Love is more powerful than hate, but hate is often louder.

Be loud.

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5 thoughts on “Be Loud

    • I hope so. I’m committed to doing what I can, and I think it has to begin with individuals doing so – but it does appear to be an uphill battle. With ice. (Notes the woman from a currently-cold climate.)

  1. I agree with everything you said here. Very much so.

    The problem is, and please don’t take offense, is that YOU are often a bully. Even if you don’t realize it. I know that probably doesn’t feel good to hear, but know that people have been made to feel small or bad because of things you’ve done. The number of posters who’ve left Bonesology upset far out numbers those who’ve left out because they stopped liking Bones. I remember a new poster on the boards earlier this year who left after they found out that you and several other we’re talking about them on twitter. I’m sorry friend, but that’s cyberbullying.

    Personally, I’m even scared to say who I am right now because I know there will be backlash at bonesology, so I’ve chosen to go anonymous. I don’t want to be banned or spoken about in private messages.

    But I must ‘be loud’, too.

    I really enjoy discussing Bones with you and more often than not agree with your insight. However, I also ache everytime you go after fellow fans or call them trolls because they see things in there own way.

    I have a lot if hope for 2015 in the Bones fandom and in that hope is that you take some time for self reflection.

    Best wishes and the happiest of New Years

    • Well, you’re definitely being loud. Since the point of my post was being loud with kindness, you sort of missed that part, but it’s a lesson for me.

      I’ve debated whether or not to respond, since, that, too, was the point of my post, but as you opted for a public airing of your opinion about both me and Bonesology, I think a public response is in order.

      First, as I said in my earlier post on bullying – I’m human. I get frustrated. As a result, I’ve said things in the past that I’m not particularly proud of. When warranted and/or appropriate, I’ve apologized, including publicly, or tried to; I’ve also tried to be more careful in what I say.

      If someone I’ve offended chooses to reject my sincere apology, that is completely their right.

      But I can’t do more than that. I’m not going to quit the fandom or social media because people are determined to hate me forevermore, and no, I won’t spend my life in a tailspin of remorse because someone I disagreed with over a TV show won’t forgive me for how I responded. I get that some people would like for me to do so, but it’s simply not going to happen.

      I recommend that people who hate me that much stop reading anything I write, be it here, the forum, or on Twitter. Unfollow/mute options are marvelous things.

      I’m not going to comment on what happened last spring, as I’m not stupid enough to walk into that trap you’ve set. I can be slow where others’ motivations are concerned, but I do learn.

      Second, you see only part of the picture in respect to the forum. Have people voluntarily left because they don’t like our rules or philosophy? Absolutely. Do they say hateful things about us? Some of them, yes. None of this is news to anyone.

      But in four years, we’ve only actually banned three people, all for repeated violations of the rules. While those individuals no doubt have a different view of events, not one of them was banned for attacking the mods. Not one of them.

      Read into that what you will, but it’s possible you don’t know us, what we want, or how we operate, as well as you think you do.

      You’re also unaware of the number of people who regularly thank us for how we run the site. You’re welcome to choose not to believe that. It doesn’t alter reality.

      We know that some people want us to allow anyone to say anything on the board, no matter how disrespectful or repeatedly negative. It’s not going to happen, because what people miss is that the board is, first and foremost, for *us*.

      We created Bonesology because we wanted a place to hang out and discuss a show we love, with people who are generally happy with it. We want fans who feel the same way we do to join us there, yes, but still – it’s for us.

      We’re not obligated to provide (and pay for) a site so that people who have radically different views than we do can spoil our fun. I’m sorry if people choose to be offended by that.

      You wished that I would engage in self-reflection, and I can promise you I have. What I’m taking away from your comments is a reminder that yes, I need to be careful about what I say (since even a post calling for kindness can elicit an incredibly condescending attack essentially saying that I’m a horrible person) and a sincere awareness that it truly is hard to combat bullying when people use the term itself as a weapon.

      I’m committed to trying to be a better person, walking a line between kindness and honesty; I’m not afraid to apologize to people I’ve hurt or offended – whether they accept it or not.

      I will undoubtedly fail at points. But I’d rather be me than you.

  2. This is lovely and so very well said.

    I think we’ve ALL said something on social media and the like that we regret, and I adore that you pushed a positive, loving message, rather than a condescending, judgmental message. Because that kind of statement would be missing your point.

    Everyone has a different perspective on everything these days, but I think we can all agree that bullying, especially in the extreme form the original post was inspired by, needs to stop. And we all can have a part in that.

    Well done, my friend.

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