Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Bloggers Have Opinions, Who Knew?!

Oops, I did it again.  I went and had an opinion that is different to a lot of people's, or at least a lot of bloggers'.  And boy, do they round on you!!

I'm not surprised that the 30+ (still growing) bloggers who have e-mailed me and sent private messages don't want to stick their heads above the parapet for fear of reprisals from their blogging friends in this haha 'supportive community'.

If you missed all the hoo-ha yesterday and you want to read the original post, I'll wait right here for you...


Apparently someone called Amy began the (unintentionally) narcissistic, offensive campaign that I and others felt extreme distaste for on Saturday.  She then read my article, which covers the history of the Middle East, the West's role in destabilising the region, recent attitudes to Muslims in both the UK and the US, and much more.  Somehow this article then became a personal attack on her.  More narcissism?

To clarify, there were 8 sentences in my lengthy blog post about the bloggers kids photo campaign.  8 sentences.

Yes, the catalyst for my post was the appalling reaction I have seen on social media in the past few days with everyone seemingly trying to outdo one another to show just how much they care, and her campaign was a small part of that.

My objections to that campaign have been well-documented (see OP and comments on original post).  In essence, on Saturday, once everyone was already well aware of the crisis, Amy orchestrated a social media campaign which involved people, mostly bloggers, taking pictures of their own comfortably off, well-fed, safe children holding a placard saying ‘it could have been me’. It could not, ever, have ‘been them’ and to compare the two is, in my opinion, morally repugnant.  I was not the only one to say this on Saturday, and since.

A lot of bloggers, as they do, quickly jumped on the bandwagon and shared their photo, along with notes about their ‘little sod’ or the bribery that had been involved in getting the child to pose. This was then followed by a further tranche of photos: screenshots showing the thank you screen after a charity donation had been made. Why do this? What do you prove to the world, why not just donate? Why screen grab it and share it on social media? Is your donation really about helping, or is it about being seen to do so?

There was then much glee that the hashtag #itcouldhavebeenme had trended on Twitter. Was that really the purpose?? Why not use the hashtags already in operation; why not join the campaigns already happening?

To create your own campaign, with your own hashtag, rather than sharing the news and political and charity calls to action, or even signing the 14 million strong petition and asking everyone you know to do the same, smacks of vanity project to me.  However, as I have repeatedly stated, I do not doubt the motivation to do something, anything, to help.  It was though, in my opinion, an ill-conceived campaign.

I have subsequently learnt from members of their inner circle that the bloggers who orchestrated this campaign insisted on a unique SMS code so they could track how much money was donated; boasted about their new contacts; said how good it was going to look on their blogging c.v.; and worse.  The benefit of the doubt approach I started with yesterday has been revised.

The hashtags #refugeeswelcome, #refugeecrisis and #savesyriaschildren have been around for a long time and used by many, many people in the past few years. A lot more people picked up on them last Thursday and Friday because of the shocking photos, but a quick look at the news covered by the Guardian and others over the past four and a half years would have shown you plenty of other ever more shocking photos.

Last week, the zeitgeist changed due to the photos of Aylan Kurdi, not because of bloggers' photos.

All these donations and all this attention to the crisis cannot fail to be a good thing. BUT a one-off donation is made many times more valuable by continued support to a charity (direct debit), and even more so by direct political action.

That, and many more points, is the message of my original blog post.

A long time ago, I wrote against sleep training babies and received a stream of abuse from bloggers.  I have since written a post debunking the myth of the caring, sharing blogging community; talked about politics; campaigned for issues here and overseas; campaigned for refugees in Calais and the problems in and because of Syria; and much more.  Every time I have been attacked and criticised, mostly by bloggers.  Apparently this means that I "enjoy stirring up debate".  No, I just have opinions, which may differ from the majority's, and which I have no qualms in sharing.

Alas, many other bloggers do not feel that they can do the same.  They are too afraid to leave positive comments on my post or on social media because they fear the reprisals from the blogging cliques. Their private support has been most welcome. What a sad indictment of a 'supportive community' though.

I wrote a blog post that gives people more information about the crisis; one that states the opinion of the writer; one that urges more action, not just a £5 donation.  It was also a blog post that questioned the motivations of people who feel it as, or more, important to post on Facebook, than to damn well get on and do something.  Hence the title.  All I saw over the weekend was a race to show that 'I care more than you do'.

My plea was to please create long-term direct debits and take direct action.  Don’t just sit smugly by with a photo of your kid holding a placard, and a Facebook status showing how much you donated.

And so yesterday I got criticised.  Oh, and horribly abused in e-mails and private messages.  Again.

But, do you know what, it’s water off a duck’s back here. I’m not into the blogging popularity contest. Hate me? So be it. Criticise me? So be it. I’ve got used to that from people who don’t even know me, or bother to try.

Over the years I have received a number of vile and abusive e-mails and messages from bloggers, including several messages during my election campaigning that the 'immigrants' waiting at Calais would be coming to rape my daughters.  I have had people turn their backs on me at events, or blank me; someone even spat in my food once; oh, and at BritMums last year, I was forced to sit on the pavement to breastfeed Tatiana, because there was 'no room' on the empty sofa.

I don't care.  If you are one of those bloggers, good luck to you!

I am perfectly happy with my life, my husband, my daughters, my cats, my friends, and my opinions and life choices.  Your, and Facebook's, approval is not essential to that.

Readers I love though, thanks for being here.  Disagree with me? Fine. Engage in rational, educated debate? Great. But at the end of it my opinion will still be my opinion, and yours yours.  As I have said many times before, people are always welcome to stop reading.

Anyway, that blog post is not, and never was, about Amy or any other individual. It is about a huge crisis that most people seem to have been ignorant of or, worse, ignored for years. And the fact that when they did wake up it became a race to see who could care most on social media. It is also about the disgusting attitudes in this country towards people of other countries, races and religions. And the media and politicians who have encouraged that, for years. Read the post properly without the Amy-centric view and it tells a whole other story.

The debate here should be about Syria, about western politics, economics and action. And about what people can actually DO. That was what I set out to blog about late Monday night.

Whatever you think of me and my opinion and my writing, please act.  Having been lone voices in the wilderness for all these years, we want you all to join in now that you care.

I was accused of telling people off, I'm not.  I want you to join the fight!

And for the record, I am not against sharing charitable information on social media.  Share collection points and drop off centres; share ways to take action; share news stories and information; share the positive stories that are emerging too.  But please, please, don't make it about you.

Forget what Facebook thinks of you, and ACT.  We need to help.  Now.


Donate as much as you can possibly can, preferably to MOAS.


Write to your MP.

Tweet Cameron till Twitter blocks you!

Join charities' campaign boards.


ACT!


For more information on the crisis and Britain's appalling response.even now, read these news stories:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/refugee-crisis-david-cameron-to-be-presented-with-14-million-signatures-as-clamour-grows-for-britain-to-do-more-10491826.html

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/07/guardian-view-on-david-cameron-refugee-plans-raf-syria

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/david-camerons-limited-promise-refugees-britains-impotence-outside-eu

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34171148

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/syrian-child-refugees-to-be-deported-at-age-18-10490273.html


To all those bloggers who have sent private messages of support and agreement, thank you. It means a lot.


22 comments :

  1. I *heart* you.

    I tweeted a few thoughts about the 'campaign' on Saturday morning and had my head royally bitten off for not agreeing.. I had sat several times to voice my feelings on it all, but yesterday your post summed up more eloquently than I ever could. Bloggers, generally are narcissists, I know I can be and this felt a step too far.

    I heard a rumbling that this campaign was going to be put on hold while one of those involved was going on holiday, and there had been a demand made of the charity for a unique SMS code so it was known exactly how much was raised by them. How true this all is, I've no idea, I'd hate to think this is correct - that does seem to make it a bit more self serving.

    All the war torn countries need help, that little fella wasn't the first to be washed up on a beach, and sadly, won't be the last,

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    1. Wow, putting it hold because of a holiday?! Wanting to know exactly how much they had raised?! The lengths that those that organised this seem to hve gone to are incredible. And yet they are busy shouting about their hurt and objecting to accusations of narcissism??? Unbelievable.

      As another commentator has just pointed out to me, why did the photos have to be black and white? So they looked more pitiful and desperate, like refugee children? It's sickening.

      It is shocking that anyone who questions the actions of these blogging groups is attacked. Are we not allowed to think for ourselves?!

      Delete
    2. Putting it on hold for a holiday- not true. We didn't want to know how much we were raising, we were trying to figure out if there was a text number we could use/was in use already or if we'd need our own one.

      The photos were black & white for uniformity so they'd stand out.

      Delete
  2. Like I said yesterday I agree with a lot of what you said apart from your thoughts on Amy's photo campaign. Your post was informative and to the point, and I also said that if you have no interest in current affairs then the Syrian crisis could quite easily slip by a lot of people and that it can only be a good thing that people are sharing on social media as it has opened the UKs eyes, informed them about a crisis they had no clue existed and prompted many to donate. I personally would never share screen shots of a thank you screen after a donation, but it doesn't mean that it is wrong to do it. It mortifies me that you have been shunned and abused for sharing your opinions but it doesn't surprise me because unfortunately that is the nature of a lot of people, bloggers or not . I have never belonged to any blogging cliques, nor do I jump on bandwagons. I totally agree that people need to do more but criticizing them because they helped to raise awareness and funds for a campaign close to your heart baffles me. I'd be interested to know how much money was raised as a direct result of Amy's photo sharing campaign. I imagine it added quite a bit to the pot.

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    1. But wouldn't sharing more effective resources have been as, or even more, useful? That's my point.

      I don't dispute the need to share on social media, but I do question the motivation behind photos of my kids/my donations etc.

      Delete
    2. All I can tell you is what my motivation was. I had several conversations with people who insist we should do nothing and leave the Syrians in crisis. As an empathic and compassionate person my feelings were 'This is horrific, what if it were us' I told my friends that if it happened here in the UK, then I know they would be the first person to want to jump on a boat with their kids to get to a safe country' Many people I have spoken to have struggled to to put themselves into the shoes of a Syrian mother or father and I think Amys campaign reaches those people. Just like the campaigns that you promote reach another audience. There is no right or wrong, the more awareness we raise the better. And in my previous reply I wrote "I'd be interested to know how much money was raised as a direct result of Amy's photo sharing campaign. I imagine it added quite a bit to the pot." Not because of my narcissistic tendencies, I was trying to make the point that the campaign raised money, probably quite a lot, something that you are encouraging people to do, so by sharing our photos we are not just sitting on our butts doing nothing we have done exactly what you want people to do. I don't know Amy from Adam, as far as I can recall I have never had a conversation with her or even a Tweet, but how do you know that she hasn't been sharing the news and political and charity calls to action, or even signing the 14 million strong petition? I know I have been for many months now, and I have signed up to help Syrians settle into my local area. How do you know the other bloggers who took part in Amy's campaign haven't been doing the same? I respect your opinions but I'm confused at why you question others charitable intentions or what they have and haven't been doing to help. That feels more like a judgement rather than an opinion.

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    3. Thank you for sticking with me Mama Syder! I'll keep it brief :-)

      My exhortations were to all the readers of that post, not just to those who took part in a campaign which I actually barely mentioned.

      As I have said repeatedly, my original post was about a LOT of issues, not about that campaign and its leader(s) who decided to hijack it in another display of their narcissism.

      I have never questioned the sincerity of those who joined in the campaign on Saturday, my questions and doubts have always been with those who orchestrated it, and how well thought through the nature of it was.

      I have, however, questioned the sincerity of those who displayed their donation on social media.

      I have also acknowledged that yes, this campaign did raise awareness, amongst a certain group, and did no doubt raise money. (Apparently the organisers of this campaign asked for a separate SMS code so they could check, which does seem rather self-interested to me. I'm sure Save the Children's standard code would have been fine!)

      Like you, I hope that everyone who sees ways to act, will do. So we keep sharing the links and the news and whatever else we can.

      Delete
  3. I love that you've highlighted some of the wider issues, particularly within a community often accused of being 'fluffy' but if I don't know if your words will inspire the desired outcome. I'm starting to get the feeling that your aim is more about shaming people you feel have wronged you then creating positive change. I hope this isn't your intention and I'm inclined to believe the best when intentions aren't clear.

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    1. My intention, repeated interminably over the past two days, was to add a voice and a background to the cause, and to publicly wonder why so many people thought showing their care via social media was more effective than real action.

      My comments on the bloggers kids photo campaign were a tiny part of that, yet because those bloggers chose to make my post all about them, that is what many readers have focussed on. To be honest, I am bored of talking about Amy et al. I objected to their campaign, as did many others, for the reasons previously stated.

      My efforts today to explain my comments, my post, and my opinions, and my lengthy replies to comments yesterday, explain my position on all of this. As these are already in the public domain, I do not have the time to repeat them.

      My comments on previous negative experiences are directed at those who are still sending vile abuse today. It matters not to me what they think, or what hideous messages and e-mails they send, I've had it all before. I will continue expressing my opinion on my blog and social media, irrespective of how I am treated. Those that appreciate my honesty and opinion are still reading, many thousands of them, so I must be doing something right!

      I have never mentioned my experiences before because I choose to ignore such negativity. I thought it appropriate to voice them today, and have been amazed by how many others I have heard from who have experienced similar. This just shows what an unpleasant 'community' blogging can be. Very sad.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for responding so comprehensively. I suppose this is my point, whilst you might state your intentions it doesn't stop others from viewing them cynically, in much the same way you did with SOME of the bloggers in question. I was left in doubt. You can take that as constructive criticism or poor reading comprehension but this again raises the issue of whether people take the time to really seek and digest information? Is this why we need campaigns that are thought of as in your face by some but perhaps crass by others? (I know this has been covered in comments). Ultimately I'm thinking about it and we're talking about it so your ambition has been realised.

      Outside of the (visible) comments regarding this issue, which seem fair and I'm sure were expected, the behaviour you have described from other members of the community is abhorrent. I respect your decision not to want to delve into it but if others are experiencing similar I hope it's fully brought to light.

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    3. Thank you. It has been eye-opening to hear how afraid bloggers are to speak out. I kind of knew there was lots of toeing the party line of some bigger personalities, but I hadn't realised how utterly bullied many people feel. It's disgusting.

      Unfortunately, my cynicism has been borne out by revelations from some of the congnoscenti who were party to the creation of his campaign, and the true reasons behind it. I started out believing those bloggers meant well, but now know just how cynical and self-serving the motivation behind that campaign was. Quite, quite abhorrent.

      Delete
  4. It's a shame people who are essentially supporting the same cause can't just agree to disagree. I understand your objections to the way the campaign was done (although I personally was fine with it), although it was all done in consultation with the charity concerned. Surely the most important thing is that people act - perhaps later than ideal, but then it's not a competition to be first past the post and late is still better than never.

    Over the weekend I (and others) had some far more disagreeable exchanges with individuals who don't believe it's right to accept any refugees. My problem with them is not their different opinion but the way they sat in judgement as if their opinion was automatically superior. Sadly we have seen attitudes like that on both sides - it's a shame some people cannot argue with respect.

    If you've been treated badly by anyone, that's not right. But equally - a personal opinion, no more - I'm not sure I would have chosen to call out Amy by name. She had an idea, she took action in consultation with both the charity and other people and it did have an impact in terms of engaging people both inside and outside the blogging community. People donated who might not otherwise have been moved to donate anything.

    Emotions are running high on both sides. Is it not possible to direct our collective energy where we can actually make a difference, however small?

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    1. Thanks for your comment Tim, but if you read the original post, which actually only contains a couple of comments about this campaign, I did not mention any names. In fact, I had no idea who had orchestrated it until Amy began leaving abusive comments, and made the entire post about her and her campaign. MY OP was never actually about that campaign and, as I have stated elsewhere, the headline was inspired by seeing screenshots of charity donations, not by the photo campaign.

      Delete
  5. Hello, after reading your huge article of negativity and criticism I can not help but feel that you have felt personally injured by this 'Amy' you so frequently reference? A narcissistic reaction, maybe?! I take quite a few of your points but to be honest I stopped reading when it became a very 'I am right they are wrong' sort of article which is a shame when your obvious intellect has recognised in other articles that opinions are opinions but there is very rarely ever a right or wrong conclusion. It sounds as if 'Amy's campaign also contributed to the cause as much as your original contribution did but in different ways to a different audience. Aren't all bloggers contributing in the way they know how to relate and to choose this path one needs a certain element of narcissism and healthy confidence. I hope this article hasn't damaged 'Amy's and brings you the attention you also sought from authoring it.

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    1. I'm confused. Did you read the original post which this was an addendum to? Reading this post out of context tells a very skewed story, I grant you!

      The only reason I wrote this post, and make references to Amy, is because she made yesterday's post so much about her and her campaign, when my focus was about so much more, with only a glancing reference to her campaign.

      My intention with the first post, repeated interminably over the past two days, was to add a voice and a background to the cause, and to publicly wonder why so many people thought showing their care via social media was more effective than real action.

      My comments on the bloggers kids photo campaign were a tiny part of that, yet because those bloggers chose to make my post all about them, that is what many readers have focussed on. To be honest, I am bored of talking about Amy et al. I objected to their campaign, as did many others, for the reasons previously stated. (The points Kip makes in his comment above are also eye-opening with regard to the self-serving nature of this particular campaign.)

      My efforts today to explain my comments, my post, and my opinions, and my lengthy replies to comments yesterday, explain my position on all of this. As these are already in the public domain, I do not have the time to repeat them.

      My comments on previous negative experiences are directed at those who are still sending vile abuse today. It matters not to me what they think, or what hideous messages and e-mails they send, I've had it all before. I will continue expressing my opinion on my blog and social media, irrespective of how I am treated. Those that appreciate my honesty and opinion are still reading, many thousands of them, so I must be doing something right!

      Thank you for obviously being one of those readers.

      I have never mentioned my experiences before because I choose to ignore such negativity. I thought it appropriate to voice them today, and have been amazed by how many others I have heard from who have experienced similar. This just shows what an unpleasant 'community' blogging can be. Very sad.

      I apologise if I seem overly negative, critical or narcissistic, I have obviously failed in my attempt to clarify some of the issues left over from yesterday's activity.

      Delete
  6. And if you are the blogger I've always appreciated you for I hope you publish my last comment otherwise I think that illustrates more than the comment itself.

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    1. I always publish :-) even if it's negative, although anonymous comments often get eaten up by the spam folder. Luckily yours got through!

      Thanks for reading AM, I hope you will stay with us.

      Delete
    2. No you don't...

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  7. THANK YOU for writing this post.
    People love to wax lyrical about how caring and sharing the blogging community can be but there are an awful lot of pointy elbows out there. And if you dare to disagree or suggest there might be ulterior motives for certain things... well. That's the end of the world, isn't it.
    I posted a photo of my daughter, and then I started to feel a bit funny about it.
    I am still not sure which side of the debate I stand on. A couple of friends saw my post and texted to ask what it meant; even with the media as it was last week, they had no idea about the little boy on the beach and so I kind of feel like it's a good thing I posted it - but on the other hand, I could have posted something else to let them know what was going on.
    There seems to be a lot of self congratulation around the whole thing, and when questioned about their actions a lot of people seem very quick to say "oh, I give to chartiy by direct debit as well" as if they want to prove their charity-supporting credentials. I did start to wonder how much of it had been organised to raise awareness and cash, and how much of it was... other motives, shall we say.
    Like I say, I'm still torn - but I really respect your standing up and daring to disagree - and I find myself slightly jealous of your attitude - that you don't need the approval of other bloggers. I'm working towards that one myself!
    I published a post last year about parent bloggers and how people seem to post a lot of sponsored posts, reviews and general brand drivel - and did I ever get a bashing for that! Again, a lot of the people who agreed with me didn't feel able to do it publicly.

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  8. I shan't weigh in on the main part of your post. The blogging community has been a kind and welcoming one to me, these people are my friends. The campaign that you mention was planned with good intention even if - and I don't know for sure that there was - there was an element of satisfaction in knowing their influence and the repercussions that might have for their future campaigns. I can't judge that; it doesn't take away from the good that they did if they benefit also in some way.

    What I did want to weigh in on is the dreadful bullying that you've described. As I mentioned, this hasn't been my experience in the least but I am so sorry that it has been yours. None of that should ever have happened. We should be able to agree to disagree without somebody spitting in somebody else's food, for heavens sake. I know that you say that you don't care, but I do. I didn't think that our community was capable of that and I'm saddened by the knowledge. I'm sorry that people did that to you.

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    1. Thank you Amber, it's very kind of you to say so.

      Delete

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