Sometimes, people on the internet can really suck.
Most of us probably know or know of someone who’s had more than the usual levels of hassle in an online game. Every day, hundreds of people are threatened, stalked, or otherwise seriously harassed online. It can be a horrible, isolating experience, and if you’re the one at the sharp end, it’s very easy to feel helpless, or even feel that it’s somehow your fault.
In a post which I really feel can’t be widely linked enough, Apple Cider Mage tackles this problem from personal experience today. She offers a step-by-step guide to surviving, coping, and working with your game’s GMs or equivalent to make the harassment stop –
“Harassment/abuse is not your fault. I know it is easy to blame yourself, that maybe if you had done things differently, you wouldn’t be in this situation. But it is not your fault someone responded to whatever happened in an inappropriate, gross way. Ever. No matter what you said, or did, or thought you did.
A lot of times people will harass you for no other reason than being there at the wrong time, or the wrong sort of person to them. There’s nothing you can do to make yourself less or more of a victim, and don’t listen to people who say that you can. Being a victim is because someone wants to hurt you and that’s wrong. It is always their fault for harassing you.
It isn’t just words, it isn’t just “lol internet” and if it affects you, then that’s all that matters. And you can always DO something about it, but don’t feel guilty if you’re scared or terrified. They intend to scare you. That’s what they want. It is very brave to report them, and that’s awesome. “
Apple Cider recently wrote a very brave post detailing her own experience with harassment, which I also recommend reading, whether you’ve personally suffered from harassment or not. It’s an eye-opening look at just what happens online, and how difficult it can be to cope with it.
Her guide is absolutely fantastic. She’s a skilled writer, and clearly knows the subject backward, and it shows – the guide is clear, consise, and specific as to actions to take and expectations to have. I’ve seen a couple of people go through situations with serious harassment, and having support and a roadmap can be enormously helpful – I’d very much like to see this guide widely linked so that as many people as possible can easily find it in time of need.
(My one additional comment would be that it’s always a good idea to talk to the police if the harassment escalates out of game. Whilst, as Apple Cider says, they can sometimes be unhelpful, they can also sometimes be very helpful indeed. I know of at least one situation where harassment stopped extremely quickly after the police became involved.)
Bravo to Apple Cider for writing this. If you’re a blogger, you’re on Twitter, or you’re on Facebook or Google Plus, I’d strongly encourage you to share her guide with your followers. You never know who it might help.