Everyone has something they love to do. Whether it be music, art or other things, there's always going to be the chance that someone is going to troll your work. There is such thing as constructive criticism, which is to help the creator improve, but flaming is outright attacking with the intent to tear someone down. Cyber bullying is a very real thing. Much like real life bullying, it often doesn't get reported and it just continues on, only it's done from behind a screen and people think they can't be stopped. I want to share my personal story with cyber bullying and raise awareness for it.
I experienced it when I first started writing on Fanfiction.net. I had written multiple stories since joining and at the time, I hadn't gotten any bad reviews. But then came the first blow. It was in a guest review and my heart broke. I can't give you any examples as they've long been deleted and the one that I was not able to take down has been removed, but I can share some of what was said.
The first one basically attacked me, saying I was a horrible writer, I made the reader sick and that I should stop writing.
Several others followed this same basic message, each new one punching another hole in my heart and self esteem. It got so bad that I started to fear getting guest reviews. I could delete the reviews but I couldn't delete their words or the pain from my mind. I cried and wanted to quit. It felt like there was this group of them all working together to attack me. Some even made it to the last chapter before telling me what they thought. I didn't understand. If they didn't like the story, then why read it all the way through? Why attack me?
I nearly did stop writing and even talking to friends didn't help. They told me to suck it up and that everyone had a right to their own opinion, that I should take what they say and use it to improve. How was I supposed to absorb such hurtful messages aimed at me that offered no helpful ideas at all to the story? I felt hurt even more. These people were attacking me directly and I was expected to take what they said to heart and improve? How? How was I supposed to improve?
I felt unprotected because I couldn't turn the reviews off. I was able to at one point but then the system changed so we had to allow guest reviews. I felt this was a bad idea because this was just giving people free reign to torment and abuse without fear of being kicked off the site. I'd wake up every morning dreading that I'd have a guest review and the hateful cycle would start all over again.
I was so ready to just quit the first time. But a couple of friends convinced me to stay so I did. I stood up for myself once and the abuse stopped. That is until it came back full force, even worse than before. I was ready to quit the site and move onto another one. But then I realized I'd be letting the bullies win. I didn't want them to win. So I stood up for myself again and this time they left me alone.
I stopped getting hate reviews and I decided to rewrite a story from the beginning that was already 60 chapters long. But it was quite worth it and I'm happy with the new start.
I did get one hate review that was over the top. I deleted the review and this person came back, creating an account so I couldn't remove the review again. This person turned right around and praised another author for doing the exact thing they accused me of. It was mind boggling but the review is gone and no longer staining my story.
I still get the occasional hate review, but now I just laugh at them. It just amazes me now the length someone will go to make someone else feel bad. Thankfully it doesn't bother me anymore.
Many people don't realize just how badly people can feel when someone is attacked in this manner. I've seen many a good writer leave because of all the hate aimed their way. It's irritating to think that people feel like they can get away with it just because they're hiding behind a computer screen and a guest review.
Cyber bullying affects real people and ruins lives. It nearly ruined mine.
They just need to stop because it only reflects badly on them. There's a thing called constructive criticism. They honestly need to learn that if they can't offer something helpful, they shouldn't speak at all and certainly not to abuse.
One writer, I didn't know personally almost committed suicide the bullying got so bad.
The hate and abuse just tears away at one's self esteem, making us feel worthless and talent-less. That's not what the site is for. It's for writers to share their works and to improve.
Not many report or talk about the cyberbullying. I myself didn't tell anyone in my family until very recently, but doing so made me feel much better.
To anyone who has experienced something similar, you aren't alone. Don't listen to them. Words can hurt but the bullies do not have power over you unless you give it to them. Don't give them that power. Talk to people and just keep writing.
Hardly anyone is an instant success when they first start out. When we write with all our hearts and souls and share it, we're putting a part of ourselves out there, making ourselves vulnerable. But I keep writing because it's what I love to do. I know I make readers happy and that makes me happy. Don't write for others, write for yourself. If people feel the need to be jerks and hate on you, that's their problem. Who knows? If you keep writing and working to improve, maybe someday you'll become a bestselling author. But you won't ever know if you let bullies get you down. If this happens: SPEAK UP! Don't let them get away with this. This is not the sort of thing to be brushed under the rug. It needs to be addressed. Help spread awareness of this.