Ever wonder how much it takes to break someones reputation?
I think the answer is different for everyone but for me it only took 2 tweets.
Two tweets from an anonymous account that have only ever tweeted two tweets. Two tweets which both have to do with me. Two tweets from a person with a fake profile picture. Two tweets from a profile that in the description only contains a link to a pornography website.
You would think a profile like this wouldn’t be taken seriously but it was and they just had to send two tweets accusing me of plagiarism to get my article taken down.
One of the reasons I love the internet is because you can reinvent yourself and become who you want to be. If I manipulate my SEO enough I can get my blog to come up when terms like “princess”, “mom blog”, and “most awesome person ever” are typed into search engines. Then people believe it because they saw it on the internet so it must be true right?
You can also find tons of information online. You can learn about dinosaurs without leaving your bed, the Civil War while clipping your toenails, and you can research if your poop is normal while you are pooping. It’s amazing. You can also find embarrassing pictures of people you hate online, maybe you can even find out where they live, and best of all you can write them anonymous mean messages and ruin their reputation all without having to leave your home or even change your underwear. The internet has allowed lazy and shy people to be bullies without having to leave the comfort of their own home.
I used to really care what people said about me online. It hurt. There’s something about seeing something on a computer screen and being able to look at it over and over again. When someone says something mean about you to your face it disappears. When it is said online it is right in front of you. Online words are even meaner than words in newspapers and magazines. In these sources the words have to be printed, distributed, and purchased. Online the words can be posted in seconds by a hysterical angry person who has been wearing the same pajamas for months, hasn’t left their house in a year, and talks to a stuffed cat.
All this makes people feel like they know everything about complete strangers. You start looking at pictures of your ex-boyfriend’s family on facebook. You haven’t seen him in 10 years but you know the names of his wife and kids and what they look like. You know exactly what your favorite celebs have done today and might even get to see what they look like when they get their coffee. All of this makes you feel like you know these people when really you don’t. You know them about as much as they know you because you are well… anonymous.
After, I stopped allowing myself to be hurt by anonymous I became flattered. Anonymous must spend a ton of time thinking about me because from the looks of it all they do is write mean things about me online. It must take a long time to create and maintain all those fake accounts. I never thought I would be put in the same category as the Olsen twins… even if it is for negative reasons. Anonymous could be spending time feeding the hungry, saving abandoned animals, or finally brushing their teeth and washing those pajamas they have been wearing for months. But no they spend all day writing about me so I must be awesome.
True or not this is what I told myself to get through the day without letting the negativity get to me. It worked really well and I was proud of myself.
Last week I wrote an article about flying with my daughter. If you read my blog you know how horrible it has been for me to travel with my kid. I get nervous every time we go on a trip. I was also unable to blog or go online at all last week because I had a slim to none internet connection. So when I saw one tweet on my iPhone from Anonymous accusing me of plagiarizing Conor Grennan’s article for The Huffington Post I was too busy to care. I knew I didn’t copy his article and my readers would too because they knew I couldn’t even stay on the internet enough to blog. I also recognized anonymous’ profile picture, knew who the person was from their followers, and was surprised they only had one tweet. Come on Annonymous… I know you are more clever than that!
When I received the second tweet I was interested so I read the article. The article was about flying with kids and in letter form, but other than that they are completely different. Comedians and writers often talk about the same topics but what makes them unique is how they talk about it. Jay Leno and David Letterman often talk about the same current events on their respective shows. If talking about the same topic is plagiarism than every writer could be considered a plagiarizing copy cat. Parents often talk about flying with kids because flying with kids is TORTURE. Conor Grennan is not the first writer to talk about flying with kids and he definitely won’t be the last.
So I shrugged these accusations off. Anonymous included The Huffington Post in this tweet as well but I wasn’t worried because I figured they must get a ton of crazy tweets from Anonymous as well but are too busy to take them seriously.
Unfortunately, not everyone agreed with me and my article was taken down within an hour of the tweets being tweeted. I was never blatantly accused of plagiarism by the website that published the article but the damage was already done. When people asked me why the link to my article didn’t work I didn’t have a good answer. I re-published the article on my blog.
It’s amazing how in 140 characters or less you can do something that can majorly effect someone’s life and reputation. The abrupt removal of my article made me decide to stop writing for the comedy website. I don’t want to work with people who trust anonymous more than me. But don’t worry I will still be writing about all my Shannonigans. I will just be doing it here where I can deal with anonymous on my own terms.
P.S. I can’t wait to see what Anonymous will say about this post but please first put on a new pair of pajamas because you are starting to really smell and I feel bad for your stuffed cat 🙂