Rant: Internet Harassment is a Big Fucking Deal

I just don’t have the energy to be eloquent anymore. I don’t have the energy to come up with ways to make what should be self-evident arguments sound polished.
I am so sick and tired of this bullshit argument that the internet doesn’t matter. That the harassment people face online is somehow not as bad as if it were happening through some other medium. That it is less dangerous, less personal, just less. What’s worse, is when I defend the validity of the paint and terror felt by victims of internet harassment, I am accused of somehow saying that stalking is somehow less serious or even not serious at all.

Frankly I am fucking sick of it.

To ignore the importance to the internet in our society is essentially to ignore our society. Our entire lives are dictated by the internet. It is where most of us get our news, how we keep in touch with friends and family, most of our work involves the internet in some way.

When I was working for law firms, and real estate agents, people’s cases, closings, purchases, sales, depended on my ability to access the internet. On my ability to be able to check my email, to be able to send emails.  While working, a significant majority of my day on the computer and most of that on the internet (if only with my email open and frequently refreshing).

When I came home I would also spend the majority of my time back home on the computer, talking to my friends,  writing on my blog and promoting my writing to help build my writing career, promoting my businesses which took place almost entirely online.

Since having to give up work due to disability, I still spend close to 12 hours a day either on the internet directly or connected to it in some way. Especially when my ability to interact with people in person and go out is hindered, the internet can be my only connection to the outside world. When (as it is now) my ability to pay my bills and buy groceries was hindered by my ability to work, it was the internet that came to my aid by donating money. When I needed help funding the ability to write my book it was the internet that did so. My connections with other writers who will introduce me to publishers happened entirely through the internet.

We rely on the internet, but it can be a tool against us as well. When harassment occurs through the internet it can feel more personal. The barrage happens in your own home, in your place of business, anywhere and everywhere where you have an internet connection. Even if you block everyone at the first hint of harassing behaviour, that first hint still has to occur. With the ease of creating accounts, your harassers can keep coming after you even after you have blocked them 3, 4 even 20 times.

If your harassers have access to your email, you have no choice but to browse through the endless tirades and hate messages. Even if you never open and read the emails, the previews give you an indication of their content. If they are using your work email, you may not even have the option to read and delete those emails.

When harassers doxx their victims, they are revealing private and identifying information. They give perfect strangers information about your phone number, your address, your place of business, and a variety of other identifying information.  They release this information on public sites where the information is accessible by strangers. This information is a where and when guide to stalking you.

You don’t even need to be in the same city to stalk someone anymore. With access to their information you can call their work, their home, you can email them, leave comments on their blogs or pages they frequent.

If like me, you operate online businesses, harassers can destroy your business without ever leaving their home; or worse, from their phones. Fake reviews, reporting false violations, all of these are simple for anyone of a mind to destroy someone.

Imagine everyday finding endless threats of bodily harm, of life, of safety, or of one’s ability to support oneself. Imagine these messages coming at you through your twitter, through your Facebook, through your email, left as comments on your blog, sent to your friends and coworkers when they cannot reach you. Imagine that the same people who harass you and/or your friends show up at conferences that you help organize or at which you are speaking. Imagine that your harassers donate money to the legal defence of another harasser who is suing his victim for speaking out about her harassment.

Imagine that your harassers make trouble for you with your online store, or through your websites.

Imagine that the companies you work for facilitate that harassment by siding with the harassers in public statements. Imagine that when you speak out about the devastating psychological impact that the constant harassment has had on you that people demand, DEMAND, that you release your private medical information to prove that the psychological consequences are real. That when you rightfully don’t want to release your private medical information to complete strangers that they accuse you of lying. That they make up lies about you and claim you are a professional victim.

Imagine that after releasing private information, or making you the target of their harassment, that they claim no responsibility when someone who is a stranger to you decides to assault you while knowing your name.

If you still think that internet harassment doesn’t matter or is no big deal, you can seriously fuck the fuck off.

*The scenarios presented are a composite or several different occurrences and not targeted or related to any one specific event.

** I have no interest in debating this or tolerating any abuse on this post or anywhere else. If I don’t like what you have to say I will block you and you can complain about how your rights to Freeze peach were violated by some big bad feminist on her personal feeds.

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