We all face bullies - but being a public figure means they are all over the internet, hiding behind their screens, and you aren't allowed to engage.
Trolls aren't new - the internet bullies who live to be horrible to other people, using a keyboard because they're way to chicken to take people on face to face...
But a recent celebrity post and a story from a friend started me really thinking about what I can do to make a difference.
Here's the thing: as a published author, I'm a public figure. As a public figure, I'm not allowed to interact with my trolls or my author friend's trolls. It never works out for the public figure, who even if they're in the right, broke a big rule. Do. Not. Engage.
Negative book reviews are a part of life - hey, bring them on! Authors are always looking for reviews. But I've noticed on places like Goodreads that some reviewers, for the sake of wit, humor, and cleverness, will be downright cruel in regards to a story I know the author spent months working on. They don't consider the person behind the pages - or if they do, they're aiming to hurt the author for "wasting their time."
The author didn't force them to read the book, but they get the lashing nevertheless (I've had my own fair share).
The most frustrating part for me is knowing I can't defend my friends. It's not good for me to do as an author, and it would only hurt them as people would assume they put me up to it.
It's just not allowed.
Then I saw an article about Kelly Clarkson being "Mommy-shamed" because she gave her daughter a piece of toast with Nutella on it.
People FREAKED, calling her a horrible mother who must hate her daughter.
So I went to Instagram and checked out the post, and what I noticed made me think of my flock and what we could do to change the world.
There were mean comments, yes, but what I really noticed was how many of Kelly's fans and supporters backed her up. They showed her love.
They said "don't listen to the hate, Kelly. I love Nutella! Your daughter is beautiful!"
They let her know she wasn't alone.
And I thought...hey....we could do that.
Instead of engaging the troll like you might want to when you see them slinging hate or shame on someone you care about, let the person know you're with them.
Instead of fighting with someone on the internet (which never works out), ignore their comment, and spread the swanitude.
See a fat-shamer on your favorite Instagrammer's latest photo?
Let the Instagrammer know how beautiful he/she looks, and that you're with them.
See a Mommy-shamer on your favorite mom-blogger's website?
Tell that mama that she's doing a great job and her kids are so lucky to have her for a mom.
Do it for skinny-shaming, dad-shaming, racism, sexism - all of it. Put the positive out there to DROWN OUT the negative voice.
Love a book? Give it a positive review.
Hate a book? Review it, but remember there's a person behind those pages, and let the world know what you didn't like, but don't do it at the expense of the other person's dignity.
And if you see a mean post and actually agree with it? Well instead of jumping in and joining the Troll Parade, nod in agreement and move on. There's no need to fuel the hate.
Can we do this?
Can we band together and spread the love?
I think we can. I think the swans are just what this world needs to be reminded of something Disney's 2015 Cinderella taught us:
Have courage and be kind.
Be brave enough to say something, and let it be kindness as the result.
So - have you ever been the victim of an internet troll? Are you willing to join me in spreading a bit of love out in the world?
Reply to this email to let me know I'm not alone.
Keep being awesome, swans. I love you all ♥.
Kelsey Kindness Swan