Teens are lying about being cyberbullied now, or something?

A writer wrote about a predominantly teen issue in a way I found offensive so I wrote a rebuttal. The writer found it and countered, clearly still missing my point.

Because it looks like I have to spell everything out in really plain text, here we go:

Let’s say you write about a web community as an unbiased journalist; if the piece you wrote was an accurate reflection of the community, someone somewhere within the community would have something positive to say about your piece.  Something like, “hi, thanks for writing this!” at least.

But what if ALL the feedback you receive from the community is negative?

Well, then you did something wrong, something got lost in translation. (Did anyone from the 1D Larry community say anything positive about the article? I looked and couldn’t find it.) We’re not talking about one or two trolls, we’re talking everyone had a problem with it.

Further, if feedback from said community uses words like “bullying,” “harassment” or “victimized,” how can you not realize you did something wrong? If it is minors saying it, well, …shit.

Whether you meant to bully or not does not erase the experience thousands of young women said they had. Did thousands of teens (tweens and 20 year olds too) secretly conspire and all agree that article you wrote about them made them feel ashamed of themselves and their internet activities? Was it all a grand conspiracy to accuse a journalist of wrongfully cyberbullying them? No, obviously not. These ideas must have come from somewhere, from somewhere in your post.

The writer of the post in question wrote of her piece, “It explicitly avoided shaming the practice of shipping Harry/Louis.”

If it explicitly “avoided shaming the practice of shipping Harry/Louis,” then why did the people in the community reading it take it that way? Are they just all making it up?

Again, I repeat so it sinks in: Just because you say it isn’t so does not make it so. Just because you said you didn’t bully or shame doesn’t mean anything if thousands of young women are crying about the words you wrote about them. Teens don’t casually accuse journalists of bullying or shaming them, and dismissing and denying their complaints comes off like you don’t respect them. Denying it does not make their trauma, their pain and frustration any less real, either.

It makes you look like you think they are crazy, at best.

Wait, they already think you think they are “crazy”…

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Journalists! Please don’t cyberbully teens because of their sexual fantasies!

Everyone is on the Internet now. Including your grandparents and children.

It’s a crazy digital world, and journalists covering the Internet literally go where no other writer has gone before. These journalists are on occasion making the rules up as they go, too.

These Internet writers hang out in weird fetish bars (think 4chan or Reddit) or peep in on journalists exchanging proverbial blows in a virtual newsroom (think a Twitter or Google+ debate).

Sometimes in their quest for a story, these writers even spy on teens gossiping in bathrooms about homoerotic sex, and because said teens don’t think anyone is listening they don’t bother locking the door. (In this particular case, that bathroom is Tumblr, and the privacy settings are off.)

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I got to ask Rahm Emanuel a question, in person…

… Check out my post about my experience on my hyperlocal neighborhood blog here.

The whole experience made me question what kind of journalist I want to become. I started the Albany Park Post blog under citizen journalist sentiments, and if I were to get a degree in Journalism, it would only be if I decided to become a serious, hard-hitting journalist – something I never thought I would want to be.  I know whatever I am doing now, let’s call it a freelance writer thing,  I am not doing it properly. I am still paralyzed by various personal fears – for instance,  I’ve been sitting on a large story about a local art institution for months, and I haven’t finished it  because I don’t want to be sued (the female in my story is a little odd, and the suing type).

“If you’re not pissing someone off, you’re not doing it right”… I get that. But growing up, I wanted to be a lot of things… and a hard-hitting news journalist was never one of them.

Getting Paid for Community Journalism warms my Heart

Thus begins my freelancing for Patch…

I love hating on “the man” , but 2011 has me still working for AOL. For those that don’t know me, for a while I was writing on AOL’s Walletpop, but I knew the day I was recruited that I would not write for Walletpop’s Money College for long  as I had a very hard time in college. I thought my depression sucked when I was a teenager, but damn, college was a whole other story. This one piece of mine is still one of their all-time traffic getters though (I am being modest – I should really say “top story ever”)…

More than one writer/journalist friend has told me how rewarding community journalism was for them, and I definately feel that way just from blogging about my neighborhood. Getting paid to do community journalism, however, is the cake.

For Wilmette-Kenilworth’s Patch, I will be profiling candidates running for  local office. You can read my first interview here.