Beat back bullies with Respondology!
One thing that has caused me more strife than any other challenge in my life has been online bullying. Trolls have found every possible way to reach me over the past several years— email, Instagram DM, Facebook message, YouTube comments… they’re like the nightwalkers on Game of Thrones, finding every possible passage into the fortress. And I’ve tried to block them out, because “sticks and stones,” right? Words aren’t supposed to hurt me. And yet… they do.
As an empathic person who has already been told by the world in SO MANY WAYS that who I am isn’t worthy of love, isn’t valid, and isn’t important, when I get messages from people reinforcing those negative views, they hit a tender spot. Experts would say that tender spot is trauma. I have been psychologically traumatized by how much online hatred I’ve incurred since I went public with my pregnancy story. And it hurts every time I accidentally stumble upon comments, messages, and “debate” around whether I deserve to even exist in the world.
Sometimes I hear from people who posted about transgender issues on their public social media accounts, and they are shocked— SHOCKED— at the backlash they’ve received.
“But should I leave the comments up so others can learn from them?”
Here’s what I need from you. As an ally, you have to be able to use your capacity wisely. If you spend all your energy trying to reason with trolls, you will eventually burn out and then I’m worse off than when you began. You need to be able to discern between thoughtful interest in learning (even if it comes out a tad messy) and bigoted hatespeech. If someone says something like, “I’m confused. I thought transgender men wanted to be like other men. Why would they want to get pregnant?” That is a perfectly legitimate opportunity for you to have a teaching moment. Yes, the language they’re using isn’t perfect… but they probably genuinely don’t know any better. This is a chance for you to address their question, while managing your own anger response, and they are more likely to be open to learning from you than they are from me. But if someone is obviously transphobic… don’t give them a microphone. They can create their own platform if they wish, but you are not obligated to boost their message. That is not good allyship.
Now, if you plan to take any public stance on social justice issues, trolls WILL find you. Their racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist diatribes will leak out all over your page. And when you leave them up, you are making the internet a more toxic place for people like me (and people like you!) who have to read it. I implore you— use a service to help clear your channels of these toxic messages.
I recommend Respondology. It plugs right into your social media channels, uses AI to comb through ALL your comments, and hides anything that is potentially hatespeech. You can go through those comments yourself and decide to release the ones that aren’t hatespeech or flag any that slipped through the system (they use those changes to increase the skill of their algorithms). You can even set it up with custom words and phrases to catch, if you know what your specific trolls often say in hateful comments.
I’ve been partnering with Respondology to help their system work even better for LGBTQ public figures, and in return they’ve provided me with a friends and family code that will get you one full month of their service FREE. Use TR10 when you set up your account, and you’ll be able to test out the platform to make sure it works for you.
Please please please join me in making the internet a safer, more loving place for all of us. Let’s keep talking and keep educating those who want to learn. But everyone else? Let’s turn their microphones OFF.