Tonight is a lazy night for me. I didn't close at the store so I've been finishing a few knitting projects (Karma's Poncho is done, yarn ends sewn in, steamed and in the bag, yeah!), having tea and a scone, watching You've Got Mail (because for all my snark I'm also pretty sappy), and occasionally perusing TweetDeck. Oh, we're having a summer storm here, too.
I got totally distracted by series of tweets from BiblioBrat, mjmbecky, and thestorysiren regarding some wing-nut who has Kristi pegged for harrassment (of course, I had to go read all the comments and put in my own two cents). Kristi has been removing some of the more heinous comments from the "crazy person" - who is posting more garbage using the defensive "we" rather than the singular personal pronoun - but the gist of Anonymous/Lena's rant is that Kristi needs to quit hogging the YA books, leave them to the teen bloggers, and just not review YA because Kisti is "old" (Kristi is younger than I am, FYI). In short, the crazy is demonstrating that he/she/they/it has the IQ of a troll and behaves like one, too. The same type of comment-flaming ensued on Tricia's Book Blog this week over the fact that Tricia hit the jackpot and was offered a free bookshelf to test out and review on her blog, lucky her (I have to be slightly jealous of Tricia in a good way because it is a pretty nice bookshelf). And, come to think of it, there was also a crazy person flaming The Yarn Harlot only a few weeks ago; flaming Stephanie is about like self-immolation because we Harlot-ites are militant in our defense of her (and we carry pointy, sharpened needles with us....everywhere).
Either there are multiple flamers running around in cyberspace or one sick individual.
So as I sat knitting the collar for a baby cardie (last piece!) and watching You've Got Mail I was thinking about the inherent community that goes along with reading/loving books and knitting. Those us who love books and love to talk about books - meaning we have blogs and book clubs and various bookish friends in the 21st century - have a very supportive community with all the other bibliophiles out there; we exchange reviews, encouragement, memes, and our love of the written word. Even if we don't agree on a point or have different reading tastes we don't denigrate one another; I don't think I've seen any serious book bloggers get obnoxious with one another (I've not been really active in the blogosphere long, so this could just be a case of not looking in the right places). The same goes for knitters. We all love and admire one another's handiwork, ask about where we got the yarn, support our LYS, and happily troop off to fiber festivals. Look at the Sock Summit that just wrapped up in Portland - if that doesn't say "community" then I don't know what does.
Cyberbullies seem to feed off that community energy; attack one in the community, the community responds with support, and the bully is somehow validated in its sick existence. The more the community backs the bully's victim, the more attention is afforded to the bully. It's a sick cycle and one that is nearly impossible to break. The web affords a cyberbully some veneer of anonymity since one can fake an online ID/persona, at least until the IP address is revealed and then "back-hacked into the Stone Age" (I love Penelope on Criminal Minds). Would ignoring the cyberbully work? It seems responding politely or vehemently only causes more flaming so perhaps pretending the bully doesn't exist will help (and turning on the comment moderation/requiring commenters to have an OpenID or Blogger account). However, remaining silent seems to tacitly agree with a bullying commenter so speaking out against the negativity seems to be the better option.
There isn't a really good way to solve the problem - the best we can do right now is call the cyberbully out and support the bully's target. So keep on blogging, knitting, reading, whatever floats your boat because the community will support you.