I love the Internet. And I love social media.
All of my work is essentially rooted in communications, and it’s amazing to share thoughts and ideas so easily with so many people. I try to be mindful of my craft, whether it’s penning a 140 character tweet or a long-winded blog post. I don’t always get it right – and I certainly don’t expect unanimous agreement. But I have seen first hand the devolving of online space into a nasty, creepy, cesspool.
Oddly, it’s been my least politicized posts which have received some of the strongest backlash.
When I wrote a post for Today.com about my less than stellar experience at Disney World, I received more than a thousand comments across different platforms with standouts like:
“Paige Wolf – You really come off as a bitch with a piss poor attitude.”
“Ya sound like one of those CrossFit elitists. You don’t look that fit. You sound like a libtard”
“I hope I never meet you face to face, nor have more than a 30 sec. conversation with you.”
“Maybe this should have been titled, ‘Why I resent having children in this imperfect world.”
“When my wife turns into this much of a bitch I let her have it. Can’t deal with what this chick is dishing out.”
“After reading this, I have come to the conclusion that Paige Wolf seems like a real uppity, wealthy piece of shit”
“Im convinced this woman suffers from both clinical depression and borderline personality disorder.”
“Here’s an idea. Go out and shoot yourself.”
When I wrote an admittedly trivial piece for Scary Mommy about “not getting the whole mom-wine-Target culture” I got my ass handed to me by offended mothers – and random men – across the land.
“She has a book called “Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt.” Maybe she’d be interested in my book… “Backdoor Bragging On The Internet: A Sign Of Deep-Seated Insecurity That Makes Other Moms Feel Bad So Please Stop”
“And how could anyone deny a child to be inside a Toys R Us ?! She’s just a mean asshole. this lady is just a bitch!!! She conforms to the snooty bitch mom culture… that’s for sure.”
“You must have a ton of money to sit around shopping on amazon all day and eating your organic gluten-free GMO-less food.”
There were also a lot of bizarre assumptions that I have loads of money (I don’t), don’t drink coffee (I do) and won’t wear yoga pants (I will.) And for the record, I started drinking wine again after the election, so everyone wins!
By and large, these comments were from real people with real profiles. People who wanted to take time out of their day to not just disagree, but to call me a piece-of-shit-terrible-mother for bashing Costco and Mickey Mouse.
And after the election it got way, way worse.
When I left a comment on a PA elector’s Facebook asking her to reconsider her vote for Trump, a man who had once run for a local congressional seat jumped in out of the clear blue sky with, “Who would ever screw you? You are an unfit mother.”
After I sent out a company e-newsletter entitled “B is for Budget Activism and Ballet,” I received a phone call from a blocked number yelling “B is for Bye Bye Obama!” The anonymous caller was so pleased with his clever retort he could barely contain himself.
And how meta is this: an online troll gets a $250K book deal from a major publisher for being an online troll. And when I take issue with the monetizing of abject sophomoric hatred, I get online trolled for days. However, I get online trolled along with one of my favorite authors so it’s really not too terrible.
It doesn’t help that targetted online harassment has been made fashionable by the new leader of the free world. Trump has led attacks on private citizens including a union leader and an 18-year-old college student. (And the world collectively face-palmed when the incoming first lady announced her top platform to be anti-cyber bullying.)
When my friend and fellow activist Erin Schrode ran for congress in California last year, she received HORRIFIC anti-Semitic trolling from the “alt-right.” Hundreds of journalists receive non-stop anti-semitic threats on Twitter, and when I see my name included in a tweet with Weiner in triple parenthesis, I know exactly what that means.
But the journalists and the activists and Erin and Jennifer and I will not stay quiet. Because even in an ugly echo chamber, people do find truth. I know this because of the private messages I receive. People thanking me for speaking out politically when they can not for fear of losing family or jobs. People reaching out to say they appreciated even my silly Disney post because they wouldn’t dare publicly disparage the happiest place on earth for fear of being disowned by family! People who share my passion for the environment or education or just hate shopping at Target.
I will keep speaking up and speaking out. On things large and small. Because it matters. Because you have to crack a few Twitter eggs to make an omelet.