Saturday, January 23, 2016

Is GOMI a hate blog?

I hate the phrase "hate blog" almost as much as I hate the concept. The line between criticism and snark in a fine one, and the line between snark and cruelty is almost nonexistant. What's changed in the past few years is the hubris to take snarking to the level of doxxing or stalking and the moral imperative to do so. It can't be wrong if you are right. Bombing someone's email with demands to fire an employee for something idiotic posted to Facebook has become increasingly common, and if you can prove bigotry it's hard to challenge. (Does it make any difference, really, if the person dry cleaning your clothes or serving you french fries has some misguided, nay, bigoted beliefs? If they never dared to express them in the first place, would they not exist? Philisophical ponderings.) But a lot of the nastiness occurs within women's blogs. Katie Van Syckle wrote a piece for the Guardian on the "snark" site GOMI, a place I periodically visit though am not a member. A lot of time I go there for reassurance: "Did someone actually get paid to write this?"  I usually get it. It's nice to know that you aren't the only one thinking "wow, someone is actually suggesting a disabled actress (one with demetia herself?) should play the role of a woman with early-onset Alzheimer's?" However, like any site with a large participatory audience, things can get pretty brutal:
Natalie Holbrook, 33, who writes the blog Hey Natalie Jean, started her blog as letters to her mom. Her output is also up for a “Biggest WTF” award. She says the harassment she experienced through GOMI sent her to therapy. “It legitimately put me on antidepressants,” says Holbrook. “You try to stay away from it, because the minute you read it, it’s in your brain forever – my flat forehead, my ugly nose, or that my husband hates me. I thought once if I said, ‘You’re really hurting me,’ it would stop, but it just got worse.”
 "You're really hurting me" doesn't work with playground bullies either. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I think there's larger cultural factors at play and a big one is how women handle conflict and jealousy.