I told myself I wasn’t going to even give this the time of day. Or mention this on here. But here I am. Giving it the time of day. This is gonna be a long post, so feel free to leave now if you’re not in the mood for rant.
I will preface this with a question: If you could leave a MEAN, anonymous comment on a blog…without getting caught…would you do it? Or would you be too afraid of the universe somehow playing a sick joke on you and outing you?
Everyone makes mistakes. Some are silly, some are serious. Mistakes can lead to misunderstandings. Misunderstandings can lead to anger and hurt. But what happens when one party is not willing to meet you half way to make amends? Especially when you are the one that extends the olive branch?
You may be wondering how I even presume to know who my anonymous commenting “friend” even was. I’m a smart cookie. Not only that, I’m no novice when it comes to cyber-bullying or cyber-stalking. I was a victim of it in my first semester of college. And let me tell you—you see the internet through a different set of eyes when you are harassed and threatened online. And that metaphorical playing field turns into a sandbox when people you care about are approached by that person offline.
Fast-forward to this anonymous comment. There are tools at your disposal to easily track who visits your website. Statcounter is one of them, and I opened an account a few weeks ago not thinking I would need it for more than tracking my blog’s statistics.
The minute I got the FIRST (non-anonymous) comment last week, I visited my Statcounter account. It logged their computer’s IP address, approximate GPS coordinates, their Internet Service Provider (ISP), referring link, entry page, links clicked, time spent, and the exit link. The exit link was the comment form. I labeled the IP address with their identity so that I could see if they returned.
This Tuesday, the same IP address returned and left this comment:
Insanely offensive? No, silly rather, but the point of the matter is that they chose to leave a mean comment. I’ll say it again; they CHOSE to leave a mean comment. On top of that, they chose to make it anonymous so that I could not reply nor know who was the culprit (so they thought).
The anonymous comment was left during business hours (10:19 AM)…and here’s the zinger. Oddly enough, Statcounter logged the ISP’s name as this person’s workplace. How did I know? I already had a hunch–I’m not stupid. A simple Google search with the blogger’s name led me to their LinkedIn profile (including their picture)…and their employer’s name beneath their title. Talk about a public relations nightmare.
I’m not sure what this person’s motives are…but I will tell you this…the same visitor path (referring link, links clicked, exit link) repeats itself at another location (IP address). Hint: it’s their own blog URL that is the referring link. And it is after business hours. You guessed it–I now also know the IP address of their computer at home.
So I asked myself this last night, should I e-mail the person and advise them to stop behaving like an idiot, providing all the evidence I’ve garnered (activity logs, screenshots, etc), or should I blog about it, so that other bloggers could benefit from this experience? Obviously, I chose the latter.
I DO NOT PLAY GAMES when it comes to online harassment, whether you want to call it cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, Swimfan-stalking…whatever. I chose to nip this in the bud while informing others on how to protect themselves simultaneously.
I do not have children, but if I did (and if I chose to splash their pictures all over my blog as is my given right) you can bet your bottom dollar that I will take any necessary precaution in protecting myself. Let it be known that Statcounter is not illegal and is one of many tools available for site analytics.
Know that your actions can be tracked online. Know that it is not prudent to have your full name as your e-mail address if you’re going to engage in destructive behavior online. Know that it is a waste of time to leave negative comments on a blog. Don’t like them? Don’t go to their blog. Simple.
So I ask my not-so-anonymous commentator…is it worth it to continue with this grudge? Is it worth it to associate your troll-like comments with your employer’s company name? I don’t think it prudent. Take this as a friendly warning. I know how to protect myself online and, hopefully, as a result of this post, now do many other bloggers.