Bullies are the toxic health hazard of the content creator profession.
Every job has a downside. Now, I’m not here for a pity party. I walked up this content creator hill … and I’ll die on it.
But this discussion is one we must have if we want more people to join the profession, and improve the experience of consuming content. I feel qualified to write about it because I’ve got some crazy bully experiences.
There’s a degree of vulnerability required to do this job
You’ve probably heard some amount of vulnerability is required to be a content creator online. The experts are not wrong.
Some content creators talk about their weight loss journey, or their divorce, or losing money, or getting fired. It looks easy but it’s not. It takes everything you’ve got to share these stories in the hope they’ll inspire others.
Whenever you share a vulnerable moment bullies can use it against you. They can make you seem stupid or look weak.
The bigger problem
As someone who runs an online academy for creators, I can tell you the #1 reason people decide not to become content creators is because of the bullies.
Thanks to the bullies we have a lot less content creators than we should.
Too many people are afraid to share their stories because of what a random on the internet might say after they’ve knocked back a few frothy beers and are ready to stir up a storm of hatred for everybody to see.
Being micro famous can feel lonely
If you post on social media and take it seriously, you’ll probably become micro famous. That’s the category I’m reluctantly in.
Everyone loves you but it feels like no one loves you at all.
Some days you just feel flat out lonely. You wish you were back in the cubicle with your work colleagues where not much work happened, but you felt part of something. You had fun. You cracked jokes. You rolled your eyes while the CEO gave another presentation about themselves.
When a bully strikes and you’re already feeling lonely, it’s enough to wipe out days or even weeks of your life.
It’s true what they say: fame is a nightmare.
I wouldn’t wish fame on my worst enemy. For this reason I spend no time trying to have a big fanbase of readers anymore. I want to focus on a smaller audience with deeper connections. It’s why I don’t care about these 1 million follower bros posing on Twitter, LinkedIn, and InstaFamous.
Real success is a feeling of connection to your local community and a small tribe online.
The racist emailer
Over the last week I’ve copped some incredibly racist emails from someone who signs off as “Asian person.”
I told a tech friend yesterday and they said, “give me your credentials and I’ll check it out.” My friend now has their IP address, LinkedIn profile, full name, and profile photo. Now, if I was an a-hole I could easily screenshot and send the racist messages to their inclusive, politically correct employer.
They’d probably fire them on the spot.
I’m not going to.
But this is what bullies don’t understand. 99% of people on the internet aren’t anonymous, so it’s safer not to leave comments or send messages you wouldn’t want your boss to see.
Most platforms do jack about stopping it
I don’t blame them either.
Stopping the bullying of content creators is near-impossible. Especially in the age of bot armies run by quiet Generals.
The platforms we post content on want clicks to fund their business. Saving you from bullying isn’t part of their business model.
In fact, bullying on social media helps make them more money because people become addicted to the outrage. Just like a soap opera, people want to see who wins and where all the drama leads.
The one exception I’ve found
A few years ago I found myself surrounded by an army of bullies on LinkedIn.
A well-known UK businessman sold his company for millions of dollars. The next day the new owners fired him because he was the Uber crazy Travis Kalanick of London. So with all that cash and no job to go to, he turned to the miracle of LinkedIn to repair his broken heart.
Somehow he found me. He got together a band of misfits and the bullying began. It was a lot to deal with. Hundreds of messages every day. I looked at the profiles of the bullies…
Most were racists, misogynists, drunks, nazis, etc.
They didn’t even try to hide it.
They literally had “I hate XYZ race” in their LinkedIn headline.
LinkedIn users rallied together (with no input from me) and reported them. A few weeks later LinkedIn banned hundreds of these crazies from their platform.
LinkedIn just bans bullying without blinking an eye.
Bullying is a highly-profitable business
Slap a well-known creator’s name in a headline and you’re going to make some money from short-term newsletter subscriptions.
Slap Tim Ferriss or Ryan Holiday or Marie Kondo in a hate piece and your payday gets larger.
Content creators who do this end up stepping on a hidden landmine though. The audience quickly figures out the game and simply switch it off.
We love internet drama, but only in tiny doses. And as soon as we see real humans are getting hurt, we rebel against the perpetrators.
Still, bullying-as-a-business will always be a temptation due to the fast cash.
Why bullying of content creators happens
It happens because it’s easy. Takes no effort at all to hurl abuse in the comments section or write a hit piece because you had a bad day.
Hurt people hurt people.
Bullying creators is how they feel a tiny bit better about themselves. Now with our portable slot machine in our pockets wherever we go, the dopamine spike we can experience by dropping a stinky fart in the comments of someone’s post is just too easy.
It’s the fastest dopamine hit in history.
Takes more time to consume traditional drugs that have a setup process than it does to bully a content creator for a hit of angel brain dust. Where do all these addicts end up though? In rehab, worse off than they were before.
What can you do?
Jump in. Tell people it’s not right to bully content creators.
If enough people say “stop” then the person tends to disappear. They realize their bullying isn’t wanted. And if you report to platforms by flagging their hateful interactions, they’ll almost certainly get banned.
I treat bullies like snakes.
I don’t run towards them and try to pat them like cute little puppy dogs.
No. I treat them as dangerous, poisonous pests that can sting me with their fangs and kill me with their venom. I’ve adopted the mute, block, duck for cover, ask questions later, approach. It’s easier on the brain.
The incredibly good news for aspiring content creators
All of this sounds negative.
Many of you want to be content creators or at least share the occasional story online. I’ve just gone and scared the glittery pants off you. I come with great news though. After being a content creator online for eight years straight, this is what I’ve learned:
Less than 1% of users are bullies.
My advice: don’t give up on the other 99% of people online who aren’t bullies and desperately need to hear your stories, lessons, and experiences.
We need to learn from real people. Not Jeff Bezos.
Help protect content creators from the work hazard of unnecessary bullying by standing up to them. Use the block, mute, or report buttons if needed.
You’ll make the world a better place and help us learn more from each other when you do. Thank you to the 99% 🙂