Dec 4 2013

Integrity … got any?

Posted by     32 Comments    Posted under: The Snug

I know … it has been a while.

What can I say. I’m knee deep in exams covering topics like Media Law and Media Ethics.

The nerd in me wants you all to know that these topics are all riveting.

The creative side of me wants you all to know that I can’t wait to have a little more time to play on Instagram and show you how beautiful our little city of Galway looks this time of year.

I felt it was high time to address an issue that is on my mind a lot these days and it is:

Cyber bullying.

Now, here’s the thing guys, I spend A LOT of time in cyber space, so it is possible that at some point, I might be the recipient of a bit of backlash; I expect it actually.

If you put yourself out there and write openly and freely, be it for a newspaper or for a personal blog, then you open the door to invite all kids of crazy into your world. You’d want to have a very thick skin in order to survive as a journalist in the digital era – it is not a passing phase.

The good news is that here on my blog, I use comment moderation.

It means that I get to put the 3 R’s into practice: Read, Review and Respond.

This is very important to me and over the last few years I have received over 5,000 comments on my blog. That is not including all the responses I have made to (almost) each and every comment.

It is a personal blog and I like to keep it personal. I like to tell it how it is. Most of my readers love this and they trust that ‘what you see is what you get’. The code I adhere to is to always keep it fair and accurate, based on the experience I have had. If we receive something in-kind, or a payment to review a product, or freebies to giveaway on the blog, I disclose that information at the end of every blog post; Honesty is also another word to throw in the mix.

I remember a couple of years ago, someone asked me to remove content from my blog because they did not like what I wrote. They felt it was un-true. I was annoyed. Imagine if I went into a restaurant and asked the Chef to remove an item from their menu because I felt he was not cooking it properly?

Those chefs have sharp knives. I make every effort to steer clear of them. The relationship between chefs and critics will always be a bit dicey – won’t it?

I wanted to blog about it but instead had a chat about the whole thing with my eldest sister – she’s awfully solid and never gets too frazzled. She said ‘ignore it. No need to mess up your lovely blog with stuff like that. Your readers don’t need to see the behind the scenes crap’.

She was right … and I have continued to hit the delete button – to the tune of well over 2,500 comments that are from what we like to call internet trolls.

In Ireland, most of them hang out over here (look at the comments on some of their news stories then wash out your eyes!)

The way I feel when it comes to worrying about what others think of me, or my WiseWords, is it is none of my damn business what other people think of me. Now, if you go making it my business, how you feel about me, on several different very public social media platforms, then I suppose it would be silly of me not to get my knickers in a twist. I’d hate anyone, like my Mammy in particular, to think I was a bit of a doormat; Because,  I am not.

Anyway – my blog, my internet space is ‘moderated’ and for the most part, I am fairly well behaved on Facebook and Twitter.  I try to keep it light hearted and fun but always professional. You never know who is watching you on those social media sites. They are wide open.

And that my friends, can be where Cyber Bullying rears its ugly head.

Last week I broke all my rules – because some poor eejit a local chef – whom I have never met –  took to Twitter – accusing me of not having any integrity.

Well, first he accused me of having a chip on my shoulder, and I responded rather calmly thanking him for his feedback and let it go. I was not in the mood to ‘go there’. But, this is what we call ‘feeding the troll’ and it was my first mistake. I should never had responded. I should have just deleted the Tweet and carried on studying. But because I gave him attention, I was then subjected to a few more Tweets – in public AND a few private Tweets (direct messages).

Silly, silly boy.

As I had broken one of my rules already, I decided to catch a few screen grabs of all the nonsense and throw it up on my personal Facebook page to eternalise it forever. Please note, I chose NOT to put it on my WiseWords Facebook page … where there are over 4,000 readers.

Even though this man and I are not acquainted in real life OR on Facebook, he decided to follow me and keep at it.

Then – he made the mistake of taking a dig at the Chef …

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The digs kept coming and it was getting worse – challenging my integrity and also stating my work (writing) was unpublishable, so I decided it was time to name and shame. Please also note that this was all happening at 4pm (GMT) on a Friday afternoon. I had not even had a chance to crack open my first beer. Imagine if I had had a wee bit of Dutch courage on my side.

The support from all my friends on Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram) has left me floored. I love y’all muchly.

I am a blogger. Occasionally, my husband Ron and I review restaurants on our own dime and time. I will never aim be the best restaurant critic in Ireland – there are so many excellent ones already it is almost impossible to aspire to be in their league. We do it because we have worked in the service industry our whole lives. I write. He cooks. We know what we are talking about.

And here’s the thing. This is my FIFTH Christmas sitting at my desk studying for exams. I (first) went to college to learn how to write (for 4 years) and I am now in my final year mastering my craft. I may not be the best – but with a little more hard work I have the potential (and possibly the determination) to become the best. Also – incase you don’t like my constantly reminding you that I am in college – I am not highlighting the fact that college has made me smarter (even though I do hope it has just a tad) – I am highlighting the fact that I STILL HAVE A LOT TO LEARN.

I will not stand for bullying. Not on my Blog, not on Facebook, not on Twitter and most importantly NEVER in real life. People that lash out on social media sites like this (especially if you have never met them in real life) deserve their name .. Troll.

If you want to play in my kitchen then my advice is:  know who has the sharpest knifes.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.

All comments will be moderated so hit me with your best shot xx

WiseMóna

Please note that the negative comments all came from an employee of a local restaurant in Galway. I am not naming or linking to any of them because the owner has been in contact with me – publicly and privately – to apologise on behalf of his employee and to let me know that they do not share the same views.  I am happy to leave it at that. The culprit in question had also apologised publicly – but as expected – he deleted many of his silly negative comments from my Facebook page in the hopes that he might salvage the damage he had done. I felt it was my duty to resurrect his words and am using this to remind everyone, employers especially, of the following: Once you open your mouth and put something out there, in writing, on a very public platform – even after you delete it … it is there forever – eternalised for all to see. If you use social media for your business it might be high time you write up a code of ethics (click here for Social Media Training for SME’s) for your employees so they don’t ‘Tweet’ away the reputation you have worked so hard to earn. Consider the hatchet well and truly buried. 

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32 Comments + Add Comment

  • Amen.
    As you know I believe you should never apologise for your opinion. Each to their own especially on our own domains. ;)

    • And you are absolutely right on the money Caitriona. Thanks for the reminder of it being ‘my domain’ too x

  • Hi Mona,

    That stuff can really get at you and your sister was 100%. But still lots of us let things like that get to us. The digital soapboxes are open to all and Gobshites and fools are plentiful. Most schools and many parents have not matched the “progress” of social media and how to deal it with. Hopefully it will improve quickly.
    On another but somewhat relative note:

    I have a 15, 14 and 12 year old. Girls and a boy. Two of which are digitally savvy and one (middle child) couldn’t give a toss. But it is a minefield. Talk to them from early ages about social media and also the restrictions that you will have. It will make it easier once they hit the teen years. None of them are on Facebook, 1 is on de Twitters, but there is a raft of gaming and communication apps that is hard to keep up with.

    Rock on!

    • Fergal,

      Ours (ages 8, 8, 10, 12) are not even allowed have a glimpse of the iPad on their own.
      We are very strict and serious when it comes to letting the kids use ‘communicative devices’.

      I would venture to say that those who bully on line are also bullies in real life and I see nothing wrong
      in taking a stab at ‘alerting the media’ to their desperate plea for attention.

      I’m a gonna keep on rocking like its the free world and LOVE that you came to vista me over here – huge hugs from Galway!

  • Well done Mona that’s a great end to an unnecessary journey. The social media world is so full of “anonymous” trolls doing their thing that it astonishes me that identifiable people can be so naive and rude. Cyber bullying is a symptom of our frustrated society. I congratulate you on your professionalism and I anticipate a steep learning curve for a number of “businesses” West of the Shannon

    • Why thank you kindly Ms. Bonner – that means a lot to me coming from you – because you do know
      the ins and outs of it all here in Cyber space.
      See ya soon in real life x

  • Well said Móna – I’m still stunned at the man’s foolishness! It would be nice to think he’s learned something from all this, though I have my doubts. Hope your exams are going really well, wishing you the very best of luck! x

    • Thanks Gail … headed into the next one in a few hours – Media Ethics. This blog post
      helped me get my head around the subject matter greatly.

      I am still stunned about the whole thing myself but very glad to let it be done now.

  • Way to go, Mona! The meer thought of you being a doormat made me laugh out loud. That’ll be the day! You handled the situation with great poise and French-Irish’s words have reminded you not to feed the monster in the future.
    As someone who was not blessed with the gift writing and it’s a struggle for me.
    I thoroughly LOVE to read your work and see how you continue to grow.
    Love and miss you guys!

    • Ha ha .. I know .. I know … moi, a doormat? BUT Cate, imagine if it were one of the kids,
      being bullied online by someone they had never met. It is something we, as adults, need to be so much
      more aware of and help shake down the bullies. I love and miss you too xx

  • Well said Mona,
    We get to deal with a lot of this on a daily basis (not on my wonderful personal blog but in the business managing social media for clients). Social is a pretty new game and the rules of engagement are not written fairly. I think you handled this chap as well as one could under the circumstances. The big lesson for me: Don’t diss the Ron!.
    Best,
    Conor

    • Hi Conor,
      Thanks for popping in for a visit – and taking the time to read and comment.
      I know you understand wholeheartedly … I would like to write the rules of engagement for social media,
      because right now – the lack of ‘rules’ is getting out of control . . because of this people just don’t ‘think before they ink’ …
      I did my best x

  • Go Móna… go!… I totally agree with you on keeping your social media clean…one never knows who’s reading the posts. As for taking a cheap shot at the Chef (who doesn’t even use social media) What a low blow! With that said; you seem to be a girl with THICK skin which allows you to tackle bulling when it rears its ugly head!

    • Hi Robert,
      You know, you are right about that Robert – it was a cheap shot and totally unwarranted.
      I also have that Chef of mine to thank for the very thick skin I have!
      Yes – imagine if it were one of the kids.I can see how easy it is to react and become very concerned over something a complete stranger
      might say to a child in an online ‘forum’ setting. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving and merry Christmas x

  • A very good, objective piece Mona, especially so given the circumstances; I hope the exam went well :)

    • Thanks Abs – I am ‘learning’ a lot this year and although I am still full of opinions, I am certain that ‘balance’ is what
      makes the stories sing. Hope married life is treating you well x

  • It’s funny (actually it is rather sad) but when my older son started his own company with three friends their first year at university and began working professionally (four years later and they might very well still be the only ones in their school who have their own company and work professionally) I noticed that he did not use his full name on facebook (he used an abbreviated version which he changed regularly) nor were any of their names to be found on he company website or facebook page. Why? I asked him… “because you don’t know how evil and mean people can be and we know many of our fellow classmates if they found out would torment us or try and drag our name through the mud.” I was stunned! That people could be that mean! Out of jealousy!

    Good for you for standing up to the bully… for all of us.

    • Hi Jaime …
      I know. I have a BFF that lives in France now and she changed her name to the Gaelic spelling/interpretation
      so as ‘not to be found’ online. I think that is clever but also think it is worrying that people have to go to extremes
      to hide themselves or their accomplishments from others – because of jealousy and bullying.

      But – in saying that Jamie – it is a huge and growing problem. Cyber bullying really needs to be met head on and dealt with
      firmly. I am sure, as bloggers, we can come up with a few ‘tools and tricks’ to help make a dent in curtailing the Trolls.

      xx

  • Sad little man !! but it does point out the need to protect our young people .I just want to say I so enjoy your writings and wish you every success with your studies .
    To you and CHEF and your children I wish you all a joyous Christmas and a New Year full of new adventures .Thank you so much for your work .

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks a million for taking the time to comment.
      It is hard going right now with exams but two down and one to go next week.
      Then a few weeks of relaxing before we get cracking on Semester two and my final final semester at NUIG as a student.
      Happy Christmas to you too Sarah – I will keep on at it – no doubt.

  • It never ceases to astonish me what people will say online – things they would NEVER have the courage to say out loud in public! My rule of thumb is “if you wouldn’t be comfortable standing on a street corner with a megaphone saying this in broad daylight, you should not publish it on social media”. Clearly this dude is not plagued by such principles. As you say, never feed the trolls… but sometimes it is SO HARD to remain silent in the face of hurtful untruths. Thanks for talking about this publicly – bloggers (especially newbies) need to be told that it happens to us all and is never a personal reflection on them! Hugs xx

    • Jeanne,
      (Hi – huge hug and thanks for the visit xx)

      WHAT a fabulous rule of thumb … I will carry an imaginary megaphone with me from now on and use it, metaphorically speaking.

      It is hard to stay silent, and considering I started blogging in 2007 – I feel that is is high time to speak out about soothing that
      I fear is a problem gaining horribly fast speed. You are so right … this is very good for newbie bloggers to have a read about.
      It is a reminder that we are all in it together xx

  • I am sure glad to be the “Eldest sister” that gave good advice :) And glad you stand up for yourself when necessary. xxx

    • Thanks Trace xx
      I know … quiet for long enough. Ron and I were just saying ‘staying quiet’, while it may be the professional
      way to handle it, is not necessarily always the right thing to do … looking forward to seeing y’all in a few weeks..
      its really just a matter of days isn’t it xx

  • No one should sit by quietly when someone is being bullied, either IRL or online. In fact, online is IRL, just digitized.

    Bravo for you for this post!

    Best wishes on the exams Mona and I hope you truly enjoy your Christmas with family and friends.

    • I know Paula – you are right.
      I think that is a great reminder right there.. . . online ‘is’ real life and actually
      a HUGE part of many peoples lives today.

      Thanks for this virtual hug xx and can’t wait for Christmas –
      Wishing you a lovely holiday filled with fun and wonderful squeals of glee with the grandkids too xx

  • Good points re the importance of businesses having social media strategies. Feeling sorry for the owner of the business. Yep, it just shows how a person’s anger can let it all out of control and there’s nothing as nasty as an angry troll on twitter.

    I know you will take it all in your stride but yes, it isn’t nice. Hope it didn’t affect your exams and they went well. x

    • MEH ..yesterday’s exam was not great to be honest, but there is always one sitting (I feel like a pro now)
      where you walk away feeling like you could have done so much better – and that was yesterday.

      I know – business’s do need to just have a chat with their employees if nothing else … about
      their social media strategy. I will link it back to you for help on that one xx
      I can’t wait for your book to arrive.
      I am finished exams on the 12th and it is my treat – to read something for pleasure xx

      • oh, well, hope that was the one and it is over now :) Are you finished now or more next week?

        Book should arrive with you tomorrow unless things are slower cos of Xmas post. Was sent yesterday. Some people got them yest from Wednesday’s delivery – guess it depends on the distance :)
        Hope you enjoy x

        • Thanks Lorna .. I think it is coming today.
          I got a notice about package delivery – so popping up to main PO to
          see if that is the surprise xx

          One more exam next week – 12th – local govt. and politics. Kill.Me.Now.
          I am VERY EXCITED about next semester though – so light at the end of the tunnel and all that xx

  • Mona,
    Well said. I hope your exams went well.

    • Thanks Kristen – exams are all over and done with and I am happy to have a few weeks of ‘family fun time’ now :0)
      Happy holidays xx

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About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
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