WARNING: this is a no-edit zone…
Q. Vicki, I made the mistake of Googling my name on a web site and came across some really catty, negative remarks about a blog post I wrote and posted on my web site. My first reaction, which they say is usually the right one, was to fire off a heated rebuttal. If I’m going to be slammed and my reputation tattered, then it shouldn’t be by people using a blind medium to vent their own frustrations, don’t you think? What do you think? I’m waiting to hear from you to hit “send.”
A. First, I’m sorry this happened to you. If it helps, know you’re not alone. We all get smacked unfairly at times. Both on and off the Internet. That the net is public and it isn’t a forum where bad things are said and disappear forever but hang around forever is one of its drawbacks. Unfortunately, some people hide behind the web and say things they wouldn’t consider saying to your face. I don’t know why.
Maybe life’s been beating them up and they’re striking back somewhere they feel safe. Maybe no one in their lives care what they think, so they have to come on like an authority with the subtly of a Mack truck to believe they’ve been heard. Maybe doing these nasty posts makes them feel important or powerful, though I have to wonder why tattering someone else’s reputation in a public forum (or a private one) would make anyone feel anything but remorseful for their actions. One never lifts oneself by tearing someone else down–obviously, that’s a life’s lesson not yet learned.
The reason could be any or all of those things or something else entirely. What I do know is that if you respond, regardless of what you say, they’re going to get defensive and come on like gangbusters to justify themselves and their negative comments. Why? Because when confronted, that’s what rude people do.
I know you’re upset by this, but my best advice is to ignore it. If you respond–again, regardless of what you say–then, as my mom used to say–you’re letting them drag you into the proverbial gutter with them. Take the high road instead. You’ll be far more content and serene.
In all situations, dignity and grace are valuable assets, but usually they’re assets uncalled on for action unless you’re under fire. It’s easy to conduct yourself with dignity and grace when you’re not under attack, you know? It’s when you are under attack that your character is tested and when dignity and grace give you the opportunity to make choices that make a difference. Those differences are perhaps not to the person(s) being nasty, though they can be, but they are significant differences to you. And let’s face it, what you think of you and what you say and do is far more important than what some faceless stranger thinks. You live in you!
That said, If these comments impact your ability to earn a living, then you have no choice but to take action. In that case, I would not recommend direct contact, but would recommend you deal with this under the guidance of an attorney. S/he can request the offending comments be removed, or if the individual(s) refuse, then take legal recourse.
If these comments are just bad taste ranting, I wouldn’t invest the energy required to respond. Fair-minded people are wise enough to see them for what they are. Rather than being upset and/or angry, instead remember that old-wise saying about a day spent in anger is a day where that person masters you. Do they deserve the privilege? Really?
I know this response lacks the immediate gratification of telling the so-and-sos a thing or two. I know this response doesn’t have a swift release-valve that will give you that satisfied glow of setting the record straight. But if your ability to earn a living isn’t impacted and you can forget it exists without having done either, you’ll have starved the fire by not feeding it fuel, you won’t get an additional stream of nasty remarks and then be stuck in a verbal battle no one wins, and you won’t have to worry if in your fiery rebuttal you crossed the line and now have to feel guilty or upset with yourself for giving in to the loss of control. In other words, you have nothing to regret.
And while it might seem small, something else has happened that has huge implications. At some point and time, the individual(s) who were cavalier with your reputation will learn that what you do to others you have done to yourself. They’ll end up smacked. It’s inescapable universal law. That will give them the opportunity to experience being on the receiving end of this kind of thing and perhaps they’ll learn to make wiser choices about their actions toward other people. Maybe they’ll gain a little compassion. Even a little humanity.
In the mean time, your dignity and grace remain intact, and you are stronger for having resisted the urge to jump in that gutter. Instead of having to crawl out of it, you can breeze along on your merry way.
I hope this helps,