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Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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My Surprising Reaction To Bullies


I was painfully shy growing up.

I'm still introverted, but you can't realistically claim to be totally shy when you write stuff for a living and genuinely want people to read it. I love that part of writing - hearing people's reactions, taking part in conversations, sharing ideas.

Okay, that might be a little lofty for a humorist. Maybe it's more like "taking part in inappropriate giggling" and "sharing potty training horror stories." Same concept, though.

However, the introverted part of me remains cautious. I'm not a boat rocker, and I don't care for confrontation. Naively, perhaps, in spite of overabundant porn and Nigerian cash scams, I still want the Internet to feel like a safe place. Luckily, my sense of humor seems to attract like-minded, sweet people with a hint of snark and an appreciation for occasional boob references.

These are my people.

Thank you for that, by the way.

I'd managed to avoid any run-ins with trolls. Those online bullies post inflammatory comments just to... what? I'm not sure. Be mean? Get an emotional reaction? Whatever the reason, I can tell you I was a little afraid of them. Confrontation is still confrontation, even if met through the glass of a computer screen. After all, that screen is the only thing separating the trolls from my thin skin.

But I knew it was only a matter of time.

Not long ago, I was excited to see one of my jokes retweeted by @HuffPostParents. Within minutes of reaching a larger audience, my words were met with overwhelming support and humor - and one (I thought) unnecessarily venomous response.

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Yikes!

Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, right? And everyone's entitled to post their opinion on the Internet.

But is everyone allowed to launch a personal attack against someone else's marriage and parenting based on one 140-character quip? Can you say whatever you want, as long as you follow up with, "Just sayin'"?

I tried to be as nice as possible, within the parameters of civility she had set.

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And then I realized something that surprised me: my feelings weren't hurt. Maybe she was being a bully intentionally, maybe she was having a bad day, or maybe she just had trouble more kindly expressing her opinion within the confines of 140 characters, but I found I truly didn't care.

I still didn't care when she continued to tweet to me, and instead of being upset or cringing from the confrontation, I continued to respond with as much kindness as I could muster.

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As I decided against congratulating this woman for being the very first person on the entire Internet that I ever had to block, my 8-year-old daughter came in and asked why I was laughing.

She knew I had posted her funny one-liner on Twitter (she was joking, by the way, when she said that - she does know I occasionally lift a finger around here), so I told her quite simply that, in addition to a lot of really nice reactions, a bully had replied to it. She was as surprised as I was.

And I was happy to report to her that I'd responded the same way I'd always taught her to respond to bullies - with kindness. And when that didn't work, with silence. And, the best surprise - with my shy head held high.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


40 comments:

  1. Amy at Funny is FamilyAugust 26, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    Because it was so ridiculous, it was probably easier to dismiss, and your responses were maybe funnier than your original tweet. Trolls annoy me though, because as a reader, nasty comments impact my enjoyment of the original joke. Which is probably exactly why trolls do that. "If I can't laugh and be happy, neither can you."



    Joke's on her! We'll laugh at anything!

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  2. You handled it perfectly. To be honest, I'm glad I'll never be "big" or "famous" because people like that just confuse me (I've yet to have a real "hater.") The things that upset people boggle my mind and the fact that they need to tell everyone that they disagree a million times over in a non-constructive way is just...weird. And trolly. Well done! :)

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  3. Truth! Thanks for the support, and you make a good point about the joke being ruined for others. This is where the inability to let funny die comes in handy. ;)

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  4. Thanks, Abby! I really don't get it, either. I mean, I feel the urge to make snide comments sometimes too, but I restrain myself and only direct them at my husband. ("There she goes again, being a bad wife!" Just kidding - again) (Or am I?) (Yes, I'm kidding.)

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  5. I do take it all personally. Isn't that crazy, but I think Amy's right. It was so nutty it was easy to dismiss. Also, YOUR LAZY and IM KNOT.

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  6. I NO UR, BUTT WUT EM EYE?!? Yeah, it's hard not to take it personally, but actually it being so over the top probably did help. If only she'd also called me ugly and told me my mother wears combat boots, but alas, there were only 140 characters available.

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  7. Good for you for responding the way you did. Clearly this person was a crack smokin whore.

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  8. Ha! Yes, what you said (but notice *I* didn't say it). ;)

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  9. I'm optimistic in that you are a well-established writer and haven't gotten more trolly messages! I always worry about it, especially with the number of people you can easily reach on Twitter. I tend to go the opposite way and get really mean, snarky, inappropriately funny, and then I find myself with a real-life stalker out for revenge (cringes). So, I'm super inspired by the way you handled it! Haha! And yeah, it helps that the person was either... crazy or just didn't understand the humor. I'll pray for her soul, because I have no idea how anyone could get through parenting/marriage/life without that sense of humor!

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  10. Well, I think I haven't gotten more trolly messages because I rarely cross any lines, although this just goes to show that people can get worked up over *anything* - so really, I'm starting to wonder if it's really worth putting effort into trying *not* to offend people. Somebody's going to find a gripe no matter what, apparently! But yeah, I can't imagine making it through life without being able to find the funny in it, or at least being able to ignore the stuff you don't think is funny. **shrugs**

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  11. Obviously that person was having a bad day and just could not see the humor in your tweet.
    I tend to take things personally and really shouldn't. So if it were me I would have been mad and said nothing out of fear that I'd piss someone off.

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  12. As expected, you handled it beautifully!!

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  13. Everyone doesn't have to agree with us, but why do they have to be so mean? Where have all the senses of humor gone? (Totally singing that last line in my head to the tune of "Where have all the cowboys gone"?)

    YOUR one classy, lazy motha! (See, compliments can be grammatically incorrect too, if that is the issue holding everyone back.) Ellen

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  14. Someday we'll meet in person, fishducky. Get ready for a gigantic hug. :)

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  15. I thought I'd do the same thing. Or that I respond with something that I regretted later. It sure does help to just assume they're having a bad day - no sense getting worked up over thinking someone else is just a flat-out jerk. ;)

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  16. Thats rite, Ellen. U can say nice things if your so inclined, to! I guess some people just aren't inclined, though. Le sigh. But you're so right - I'm not asking everyone to agree with me, and I certainly don't expect everyone to think I'm funny. It would be nice, however, if we could expect each other to be decent human beings. Thanks for sharing the post - YOUR the best!

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  17. Good for you! Way to be the bigger person. I, on the other hand, got really ticked off at her reaction. Thank you for setting a good example by responding kindly. I couldn't help but be sarcastic. I haven't had anything that harsh, only minor slaps on the wrist - I can't even remember what for. Or even funnier, are the people that don't find my tweets funny at all, but are happy to correct any inaccuracies. My most popular tweet has to do with being vegan and eating Smarties. In England, Smarties have chocolate in them - so a number of people have "corrected" me on my joke reminding me that chocolate contains milk. I've had to come back with how they are just sugar in the US. So silly.

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  18. EFF THAT EFFING EFFER. I'm gonna kick her illiterate ass. (That's as clean as I can be..)

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  19. I'm going to have you take over my Twitter threads from now on. :)

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  20. You're so incredibly sweet and supportive! It's always the people who just don't get it *and* feel a need to make themselves feel better by responding when they really don't need to who make me scratch my head. And by "scratch my head," I mean punch stuff. HAHAHA not really. Except yes, really.

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  21. First of all, you shy?! Ok, maybe just not around Leah and I. Secondly, give me that #$&@! Name, I'll track her down and kick her a@@! Isn't that what friends are for? She obviously lacks a sense of humor or maybe she lacks a sex life and that's why she's so hateful. Either way we should pitty her. :) love and miss you!

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  22. Wow, you showed some major stones in handling that - I on the other hand would be still thinking about the 1000 possible responses I would have wanted to say. Maybe I should try your kindness angle when it happens again - after reading my shit no one would expect kindness!

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  23. I think you might be on to something there with the sense of humor, K! And thanks, I've always been able to count on you to offer to kick an a$$ when it needed to be done. ;)

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  24. Ha! That would seriously throw them for a loop, wouldn't it?!?

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  25. There we go - this is the moment I fall in love with you. You're stuck with me now. Good stuff!

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  26. Loved this!!! Don't you feel grown up and mature and...whole, for realizing tolls don't have to knock you down if you don't let them? Great attitude.

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  27. SocialButterflyMomAugust 27, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    Damm. Should of gotten too this sooner. now I can't make any grammer jokes

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  28. FINALLY! I've been waiting for you to declare your love - thank goodness it's finally mutual. ;)

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  29. WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustionAugust 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    You + are = you're
    It + is = it's


    That would have been my response. Which is why I'm an asshole.

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  30. Someone did point out her errors, which she made multiple times in multiple tweets, to which she replied something defensive like, "Oh, I guess you never make typos." It took a lot of restraint to not send the definition of a typo.

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  31. Thank you! That was incredibly well said, and I agree completely - it does feel pretty good!

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  32. I am so impressed Robyn! (And, note to self: 1. Kindness. 2. Silence.)

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  33. You, of all people, don't need to take note. You are the epitome of class and restraint and the master of the well-timed boob reference. BOOBIES! See? I still need to work on my timing.

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  34. wow. Good job. I always feel like I am too tempted to get dragged down into it. (A recovering aggressive girl)... great example of the right way to deal with them!!

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  35. Thanks, AJ - it's sooooo tempting to keep jabbing, isn't it?!?

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  36. I find it strange but some people just don't get humor. I like to ignore those ppl. They tend to be dumb.

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  37. I'm sure there are plenty of things I don't understand but are supposed to be funny, but I try to just move along without saying anything, lest I prove exactly how dumb I am by opening my mouth.

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  38. Well I think you're awesome. Just sayin'

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Thank you for commenting - you're awesome! I mean, even if you're a jerk, at least it means you read my blog. RIGHT?!?