My life has recently taken a 360 degree about-face. It went from spending every spare moment I could squeeze out of my day on writing, to journaling 24/7. Some might say that those are the same thing. I’m here to tell you that they are very, very different.
Think of journaling as the reader’s digest version of writing. It focuses strictly on the peaks and valley’s of your day, month or year. I stumbled upon this creative art form while lurking and posting on Instagram – (one of the very many addictions and time soaks of my day.)
In last month’s post I touched on this new fascination of mine. I mentioned that I had started an Etsy Shop at this address – Journal Creations – where you could view and purchase my lovely planners and journal books. <— another shameless plug.
I did not, however, mention at that time that some people consider it a place of online popularity as well as very competitive and highly lucrative business opportunities. I ignorantly neglected to mention this fact because until recently, I was not aware of it. I mean, c’mon! How was I to know that there were people out there looking to get rich off of the idea of planning and journaling those very special moments of your life. I was clueless to the fact that there were women slinkinkg around the dark corners of the internet, keeping their ever watchful eye on the total number of their competitor’s “Instagram likes & views” and growing online presence. Apparently, it’s a cardinal sin to rise above someone else’s popularity who happens to be peddling the same wares as you. Once someone rises to top spot of queen bee on IG, they plan on settling in and staying there come hell or high water. (Sheeeeesh – I had a lot to learn.)
I became personally aware of this nasty side of the competitive nature of Etsy Shop owners last month. I was logging into my account feed to see if anyone had noticed anything that I had posted since late the night before when my eyes about popped out of my head. I could not believe what I was seeing on my ever so virginal feed. Someone had not only posted rude comments directly under one of my journal photo’s, but also, viciously abusive remarks as well. I sat dazed and a little offended and surprised. Did this kind of stuff seriously exist? Was it an acceptable and normal practice for an online community to speak to each other in this fashion?
I got a creepy feeling. I looked over my shoulder as if I was being watched. I could feel my heart start to race a bit. Looking back at the screen, I reread the vicious words again hoping that I had misunderstood their meaning the first time.
Nope. I had not misunderstood. There they were staring me in the face. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, they were big and bold because just that morning I had changed my usual discreet font to the more popular Comic Sans Size 12 Bold Font.
What in the world? I again looked over my shoulder. Then quickly up at the small dot of a camera on my laptop screen. I wondered if I should cover it up with some thick masking tape in case the culprit was somehow spying on me. (And, if they were, did I look all skewed and bow faced like you see on TV when someone is peeping at someone through a peephole in a door??)
My first instinct was to quickly log out of my account, turn off my pc and hide it under something heavy… ( like my hubby’s fully lined arctic suit which he keeps in the back of the basement closet in case we ever get stuck in a blizzard and can’t get out of the house and he has to trudge slowly across the neighborhood through the chest high snow for milk and bread…..)
Oh this was ridiculous. This new journaling interest of mine was just a little hobby I had become interested in doing during my free time. The last thing on my mind was that I’d suddenly become rich and famous and the bread-winner of our humble household because of my popular online presence and business talents. Sheesh!
I was no online newbie with my head in the sand. I had heard all about online confrontations and these kind of unpleasant things happening. I wanted no part of some foul-mouthed, super scary cyber world, popular wanna-be. I didn’t want some online tough guy (or, in this case, tough girl) finding out where I lived. Or worse yet, muddying up my good online fake name to all of my online virtual fake named friends whom I’ve never seen or met or talked to and probably never would!
So, I ended up doing what most middle-aged women would do who found themselves in this unsettling situation. I called my hubs.
Me: sounding a little sulky – “…hi clark….”
Hubs: loud, hectic noises in the background – “Hey, honey bunny!!”
(Hurray! That salutation was a sure sign that he was in a good mood. Otherwise I would have gotten a distracted grunt.)
Me: still sulking – “….are you busy?”
Hubs: “Nope, I was just thinking about what to have for lunch”
(It was only 9:30am)
Me: silence & a little annoyed that he did not notice the distress in my voice.
Me: continued silence and a big sigh
Hubs: “Is everything ok?”
(Ding ding ding!!! OK, that was better. Now we were getting somewhere.)
I went into every gory detail of what had turned my usual happy morning coffee and online lurking time into an unpleasant experience. I told him about how nervous the entire incident had made me. I told him that I was going to give up painting and journaling forever because there was an online bully that was after me!
He listened intently and gave a audible sigh of relief realizing that this time it was not him that I was perturbed with this time.
After I finished relaying all the gruesome facts to him, he scoffed. He told me that the entire thing was uncalled for. He said that the online browbeater was out of line! And then, for good measure, he tossed in that if he found out who it was, he was going to kick their ass for upsetting me! (My hero!!)
I felt better about the situation after emptying my troubled soul to Clark. He called me frequently in the next few hours to make sure I was ok. I think he was so relieved that he was not the subject of my dismay (this time)…that he went full on caveman.
That evening when he got home, we looked into it together. And, together we found out that the source of the online intimidation was a loud mouthed, 20-year-old punk who was trying to get me to walk away from what was sure to be heavy competition for her.
Good Grief!! I was being bullied by a snot nosed 20-year-old? It was laughable! After getting my nerve up and wiping the moisture from my sweaty, nervous palms, I fired back a mildly mature, rather annoyed reply to her through a private message. (After-all, I didn’t want to scare off any of my possible future customers.) I told her to watch her language and attitude. I also told her that I was very sorry if she felt she was the only Etsy shop owner that had the right to sell this type of product, but that I fully intended to continue to sell mine.
Then I cowardly put her on ignore and blocked her from my account. And, wallah!.. just like that, my world was all roses and sunshine again.
I’ve not had any trouble since. My business has grown and the ideas are flying out of my head at a pace faster than I can keep up with.
I think about that bully every now and then. I feel sorry for the youth today. I feel badly about how the virtual world plays such a significant role in their lives. It’s disturbing how caught up in all of this online stuff people get. How they keep track of their “likes”…and how many followers they have…and how well-known they have become to the swarms of people that they don’t even know in real life. It’s sad and disheartening.
Ok, and if I were to be honest with all of you and confess full disclosure, I’d admit that I peek at her account from time to time………..just to make sure I’m more popular than her.