Online Harassment: Enough is enough

 

Dear Online Harassers:

 

Do you know what type of damage you are doing to those you are seeking out to destroy?

 

You hide behind a computer screen and type away cruel, harsh and disgusting words to those who you have never met before. You have no idea how you affect those you are criticizing. Well, it needs to stop. You need to stop.

 

I am speaking out for all of the women and men who have and are being attacked online about their body, what they wear, what they should wear, or what they should look like. Your negative comments about their weight, their looks, their legs, their cleavage, their skin, their hair etc. need to end.

 

Your words hurt.

 

This weekend I received a comment about my “cleavage” on a video that I posted on LinkedIn. I own a public relations firm and on a daily basis I post videos about public relations, marketing and business tips on all of my social media platforms. Since starting the videos, the feedback has been great- until this weekend.

 

Here is what R.A. had to say:

 

Click here here to see the video.

 

The fact that he assumed that I purposely wore a shirt showing cleavage to get more views disgusts me. He assumed that if I wore something more conservative, I would have had less attention on the videos.

 

If R.A had taken the time to look at my other videos he would have seen that I receive a lot of feedback, regardless of my outfits.

 

He minimized my message because of my cleavage. In a nutshell, he said that without my breasts, I would not have views on my video.  Well, clearly he is wrong. I have a successful agency and speak across the country. I got here because of my brains, not because of my “cleavage.”

 

These types of comments don’t bother me. I have thick skin as I’ve been in the industry for a while and have become used to Internet trolls.

 

I am not here to rant about my recent online experience. What I am here to do is to bring awareness that this is happening to so many other women and men. And for some of them, it affects them greatly.

 

I have many friends in the media industry who are harassed on a daily basis on social media about their looks. They are scrutinized on what they are wearing, how their makeup is done, what their hair looks like, how “old and tired” they look, their current weight and even their choice in lipstick colors.

 

Earlier this year, Janice Dean of Fox & Friends received this message from a viewer.

 

“Dear Janice. Please stop allowing Fox to dress you in those short skirts. They are not flattering on you. You’re an attractive lady, love the 80’s hair, but your legs are distracting every time you walk on screen.”

 

Janice, the strong and confident woman that she is, responded by saying, “You know what? We’re not made of armor. These things do affect us. And I am proud of my big, strong legs!”

 

Women like Janice and thousands of other women can handle these cruel messages, but for many women and men… these hateful words have an impact on them.

 

I have journalist friends who have received such hateful messages that they have contemplated leaving the business. The messages have sent them home in tears and made them question their confidence, their looks and their expertise.

 

What these trolls do not understand is that their words can hurt a person and even affect them for years.

 

According to Refinery 29, out of 3000 Americans who were surveyed 47% reported experiencing some sort of online harassment or abuse.

 

I predict that this is going to increase over the next few years unless we continue to speak up.

 

We can’t stop them from doing it, as we are fortunate to live in country with the First Amendment- thank God!

 

What I am asking them to do two simple things. Think before they speak or write. And if they do not have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

 

Before they write a vicious email or comment, think of that person as their son, daughter, friend, wife or sister. How would they feel if someone said that to one of their loved ones?

 

Stop hiding behind your computer typing words of hate to those who you don’t know. Stop with the jealousy. Stop spreading negativity.  Do unto others as you would have unto to you.

Alison Maloni is a media expert, contributor, speaker and owner of Alison May Public Relations. The former journalist is also a moderator and keynote speaker on storytelling, reputation management, social media and crisis communications. You can find Alison on Twitter,Facebook and Instagram.