This weekend was the first ever blogging conference from Mumsnet – BlogFest.
I did have a ticket but life got in the way, and I ended up passing it on to a friend, and following the news on Twitter.
The thing about Twitter is you can see the comments that really strike a chord with a conference audience – because a dozen people Tweet the same sound-bite simultaneously.
In this case, it was a comment from the panel on trolling that was scattered across Twitter – If you blog, you should expect to be trolled.
Actually, unpalatable as it may seem, I think it’s true.
If you publish anything but entirely bland thoughts on the Internet, someone, somewhere will disagree with you.
Since not everyone in the world is blessed with my – ahem – sterling levels of tact and diplomacy, eventually someone will disagree with you in a way that you don’t like. Sometimes it’ll be unintentional, and they don’t mean their words the way they come across. But sooner or later, someone will disagree with you and be nasty. They’ll want to provoke you.
You can drive yourself insane trying to understand why someone would do such a thing – but take it from someone who’s been there, that’s a fool’s errand. Because even if you know why someone wants to upset you, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Trust me – a troll will never read your impassioned defence of your position on baby-led weaning and decide, “Wow, I got that person all wrong. I must apologise.”
Whatever you say, or do, or write will only ever confirm your troll’s opinion of you.
And the more you protest, the more the troll is rubbing their hands with glee at the idea they provoked you. And they will almost certainly be back for round two before you know it. You feel obliged to respond again, and before you know it, all your mental energy is being sucked into a pointless, negative dispute with someone you don’t even know.
None of this is news to most bloggers, I don’t think.
Which is why I’m amazed to see so many bloggers getting sucked in to a pointless debate with the Queen of Trolls, Liz Jones.
Writing in the Daily Mail (a newspaper that has honed the art of provoking outrage into a fine art) Ms Jones accused Mummy bloggers of being like a virtual branch of the WI, of ignoring children in favour of screens, and being narrow-minded, blah blah.
Liz Jones is never going to read your explanation of how bloggers are smart, interesting, educated men and women who are making a real difference in all sorts of ways. They’ll never read about the political debate on your blog, or how your work with brands is changing the way brands engage with parents. Or how parents are finding new, innovative ways to earn a living, and create a better work/life balance.
Because that was never the point.
The point was to generate a reaction, and in doing so, boost page views and raise the profile of a newspaper.
And on that score?
I think it’s a decisive victory to the Daily Mail.