three things that made me want to quit blogging

Three Things That Almost Made Me Stop Blogging

I love blogging: I really do. It’s my job, my hobby and – without wanting to sound too cringey – one of my passions in life. I’ve been blogging for almost a decade now (longer, if you include LiveJournal, and similar early attempts at documenting my life online), and at this point, I can’t imagine ever giving it up.

It hasn’t always been this way, though. Blogging is awesome, but it can have some unexpected downsides, and there have been a few times in my blogging life when I’ve considered giving it up altogether. Here are the reasons why:

thoughts on quitting blogging

Creepy comments from fetishists and other male “admirers”

Dealing with creepy comments is one of the sides of blogging that people don’t really talk about much, but if you have a fashion blog, or post photos of yourself on your blog, it’s something you might come across every now and then. In my case, I get quite a few comments/emails/tweets etc from men with foot fetishes or ‘redhead’ fetishes, and some of those comments most definitely cross the line from “a bit creepy” to “totally inappropriate”.

When I say “creepy”, I should probably clarify that I’m not judging people for having a fetish: I’m judging them for trying to involve ME in it, by doing things ranging from pretending to be female in order to to try and dupe me into talking to them about my shoes, to sending me X-rated emails, or asking for photos of my feet. For me, that kind of thing is just totally unacceptable, and when it first started happening, it really put me off blogging – in fact, I actually stopped posting outfit photos for a while because of it. I remember feeling horribly guilty, as if I was the one who was in the wrong, and I worried that posting more photos would just encourage the unwelcome attention.

After giving it a lot of thought, I finally came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t allow the poor behaviour of a handful of people to stop me doing something I enjoyed, so I tentatively started posting outfit shots again, although I made sure to avoid photographing certain items which seemed to be more likely than others to trigger the creepy comments. One day, however, I suddenly started getting comments from men with a fetish for turtle-neck sweaters, and realised that it really didn’t matter WHAT I was wearing, or how un-provocative I thought it was, someone, somewhere, would have a fetish for that thing, and would want to tell me about it.

I also realised that I can’t control other people’s responses to what I wear or post: I don’t feel I’m doing anything wrong by blogging about my outfits, and I think it should be clear from my blog that my interest in clothing and shoes is centred purely around style, not around sex, so while those comments still creep me out when I get them, I now just try to delete them and move on.

(There was, however, once memorable occasion when I ended up calling the police over the behaviour of a fetishist. But I think that’s perhaps a story best kept for my book...)

People stealing my content / pretending they’re me

things that make me want to quit blogging

I’ve written about this at length, but still barely a week goes by without someone contacting me to let me know they’ve spotted me selling clothes on eBay or some other retail website, or making other appearances I know nothing about. Content theft is something that I don’t think people really understand until it happens to them, but once it does, it can really make you question your decision to publish anything on the internet ever again.

For me, the worst type of theft has been the times when people have taken photos of me and pretended they were photos of THEM. I’ve had this happen a few times now, with people using my face as their Facebook profile picture, as forum avatars, and as the “about me” image on someone’s blog. Not only is this kind of thing super-creepy, it’s also quite worrying, because while the incidents I’ve had so far haven’t actually harmed me as such, it bothers me to think of all the ones I DON’T know about, and what kind of commentary people could be attaching to my image. I’d be devastated if, for instance, someone started posting some kind of hate speech with my face attached to it: I mean, can you imagine?

The other types of content theft I’ve had include people taking other images from my blog and using them to sell things, or just copying and pasting entire posts (sometimes hundreds of them at a time) and claiming it’s their work. As I said above, a lot of people who hear about this kind of thing just think, “Who cares?”, but not only can it really damage my blog’s search engine ranking (which, in turn, affects my income), it’s really horrible to put time and effort into creating something (especially something that’s quite personal to you, as the posts on this site are), only to have someone steal it, and try to pass it off as their work.

Why did this make me want to quit? Well, just as the only way to stop fetishists posting creepy comments about your outfit/body is to never post any photos of yourself online, the only way to prevent content theft is to never post any content AT ALL. (There are various ways to protect your content, but none of them are failsafe, unfortunately, and if someone is determined to steal from you, they will…)

That would certainly prevent people from stealing from me, but it would also prevent me earning a living online, so it’s not really an option. Also, as with the point above, I think it’s important to remember that the people who steal are the ones who are in the wrong here, and telling those who are stolen from that they should effectively become invisible in order to protect themselves is victim-blaming at its worst. I’m not going to dye my hair to stop people sending me creepy emails about it, and I’m not going to close down my business to stop people stealing from it, either.

Being harassed by neighbours who read my blog

things that made me want to quit blogging

OK, so this one is more my fault than anyone else’s, but back in the early days of blogging, I made the rookie mistake of writing about “real” people and situations, and paid the price in the form of a campaign of harassment from someone (or perhaps a couple of “someone’s” ) who took exception to what I’d written.

I call it a “mistake”… Nothing I’d written was particularly damning, and I hadn’t named anyone, or, indeed, provided any details which would identify them. To make a long story short, I’d written about some incidents that had happened in the neighbourhood* (including me being chased through the woods by a teenager with a baseball bat), as I wrote about everything that happened to me in those days, and, in return, got a series of threatening comments from someone claiming to be a neighbour, who didn’t like what I’d written. Yes, I should have known better.

I do stand by anyone’s right to tell their story, and think it’s a shame that so much of my writing has to be censored for fear of negative reactions (My reaction at the time was that if you don’t want people to know you’re an anti-social neighbour, maybe try NOT being an anti-social neighbour for starters…), but I also have to hold my hands up here and admit that you have to be a special kind of stupid to write about your neighbours. Seriously. (Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the posts in question have now been deleted, for obvious reasons!)

This last incident is the only one that actually made me change my online behaviour – these days I never write about anyone unless I have their express permission! – but all three made me consider giving up blogging altogether, if only for a while. As you can see, though, I’m still here, and hope to be for the foreseeable future: if you’re a blogger, though, I’d be interested to know if you’ve ever felt like giving up, and what made you feel like that, if so?

*EDITED TO ADD: I didn’t word this very well when I wrote it, so I’ve updated it just to clarify that the incidents I’m talking about here weren’t in any way related to my blog: they were just random incidents that had happened in our neighbourhood, and which I’d blogged about, diary-style. The neighbour/neighbours I had the issue with took exception to the fact that I’d cast the neighbourhood in what they felt was a bad light, hence their comments to me. I definitely didn’t intend to imply that I was chased etc because of my blog!

3 things that almost made me stop blogging

COMMENTS
  • Holly

    REPLY

    Blimey, that last one sounds awful! Did the police help?

    January 18, 2015
  • that comment about forum avatars almost makes me wonder if anyone’s used you as a face cast/played by for online RP. I know there’s a few people who make icons of various bloggers for that purpose. Although, maybe that’s years of that hobby talking… My first thought about forums is ‘ooh, new rp’ rather than anything else.

    January 18, 2015
  • Catherine

    REPLY

    I feel that you really shouldn’t be blaming yourself (event just a little bit) for the stupid, creepy, dangerous and downright criminal things readers do to you. What you’re telling in the first part of this post is chilling, calling that “creepy” is an understatement: it’s sexual harassment. Having a fetish doesn’t mean you get threaten women like that. It makes me so, so mad that we live in a world where women can’t EXIST in peace…

    Same goes for the neighbor thing, if they didn’t like some of the things you said there are about a thousand civilised ways of addressing that and absolutely NOTHING you wrote warrants what they did to you. It wasn’t “stupid” of you to write these things (or anything else you post here), you don’t need to take even a little part of the blame for the batsh*t crazy things other people do to you…

    I feel like I want to kick their butts so hard right now!

    January 18, 2015
  • Ruth

    REPLY

    Hi there,
    I don’t like the sound of any if that at all. Very creepy and I’m sure upsetting for you, all of the photos I have seen of you look good and in no way provocative but as you say people have fetishes about all sorts of things you wouldn’t imagine.
    Keep up the good work I love your blog and seeing all your beautiful clothes and shoes and hearing your cute life stories.
    In the best interest though I wonder if posting pictures of your ruffled bed on a blog about stalkers may not be the best idea ‘creepy’ people seeing where you and Terry sleep together might add fuel to their fire 🙁
    All the best Ruth

    January 18, 2015
  • I can definitely check 1 and 2 off the list and am incredibly thankful that I have no experience of 3!! That sounds awful! I don’t know who my neighbours are but I certainly won’t write a note about them if I find out! On the fetishists – I am particularly plagued by the tights lot 🙁 probably because I wear them so much, but I’m not going to be cold just to stop these people from obsessively reposting my photos and writing creepy comments about which ones I’m wearing. I’ve not had anything worse yet but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. I found the first time I saw someone using my face as their profile picture worse though – it felt horrible. But actually worse than any of that was the man who wrote a novel-length email telling me I was part of a huge conspiracy theory because I wear leopard print. I’m not making that up. I found it horribly threatening from how it was worded and that was the moment I wanted to give up. But like you say, why should a few questionable people destroy something you love? You’ve just got to try to deal with it and forget it ever happened :S

    January 18, 2015
  • Not blogging related.. but when I was younger I discovered some dude that I didn’t even know was using my pictures to tell his friends I was his girlfriend. I found out because later one of those said friends asked me about him. I clarified the situation by telling him that I didn’t even know who that person was, he was as creeped out as I was. Then, in another point in my life, I had an ex-boyfriend (who I blocked from every social media channel possible and asked my friends to do so as well) harassing me even if he happened to saw a picture of me in the local newspaper. I guess, whether you’re a blogger or not, or if you choose to share your personal life online or not, creeps will ALWAYS find a way to be creeps. Moral of the story: keep living your life the way you want to but do notify your loved ones of such creeps, they will help protecting you too.

    January 18, 2015
  • Oh goodness, I never really thought these sort of things actually happened or were issues! How horrible to be chased through the woods because of your blog!

    Heather x
    heatherrrrm.blogspot.co.uk

    January 18, 2015
  • Suze

    REPLY

    Being chased through woods by a baseball bat-wielding person with a grudge sounds like something from a fictitious TV drama…..or Crimewatch even. Bloody terrifying!

    I don’t blog, so I don’t have any personal anecdotes to add, but as a reader of many blogs I’d say people don’t often talk about this scary aspect of blogging. If I did blog I’m not sure what my ‘tipping point’ would be but I think I probably would’ve stopped blogging if I’d experienced what you have. Obviously I’m not saying you should’ve stopped (far from it, and I’m very glad you didn’t!) but from what you’ve described here, and in past posts also, you’ve certainly had your resolve tested waaaay more than any blogger could reasonably expect.

    January 18, 2015
  • Suze

    REPLY

    PS Is it just me, or are turtleneck sweaters the least sexy items of clothing ever invented?! I mean, I like them, as it goes, but in the grand scheme of things it’s more than a little creepy to think that people could find them THAT exciting (and feel the need to share it with you!) 🙂

    January 18, 2015
  • I completely understand number 1. My husband had to get involved with a guy harassing me through my blog and Pinterest. He knew my dogs, where I lived…. Turns out he was our former neighbor whom I thought was married. Either way, it’s weird! It’s really sad that as women we have to stop and wonder if someone will be getting off on it and letting us know the details! And to ask for photos as is your case, well that’s just plain classless.

    January 18, 2015
  • Selina

    REPLY

    Someone I followed stopped blogging because of negative attention and creepy guys harassing her online. She didn’t want to post outfits anymore and ever did again. I didn’t give up blogging for any of these reasons but I could see why you would

    January 18, 2015
  • Suze

    REPLY

    On a somewhat related topic, I was wondering if you have any tips on how to retain privacy whilst blogging, please? I’ve been wanting to start a blog for ages but I’m such a fiercely private person that I’d want to blog anonymously and I’m not really sure how to go about that….not that I’d be writing about anything weird, controversial or overly personal, you understand, I just wouldn’t want anyone to know it was me! I have a very unusual surname so I’d definitely want to keep that private, as well as obviously my home address, and I’m not even sure I’d want to show photos of myself but may change my mind on that. Obviously a lot of it would be down to common sense but is it possible to buy a domain name and blog in total anonymity?

    Hope this doesn’t make me sound like a weirdo! 🙂

    January 18, 2015
    • Suze

      REPLY

      Just to clarify, I don’t mean that I want to actually BUY a domain anonymously, just USE is anonymously….so the average person can’t look it up and find my name linked to it, that’s all. Hope that makes sense!

      January 18, 2015
    • Jen

      REPLY

      I dont blame you for wanting to be anonymous after reading Amber’s post. I was also thinking of starting a blog but having second thoughts now I can’t deal with creeps and weirdos too scary, unless as you say you don’t put pics of yourself, home, pets, family on it I would prefer to be much more private than that too.

      January 19, 2015
      • Suze

        REPLY

        Oh good, I’m glad it’s not just me then! 🙂

        Of the 150+ blogs I follow, I’ve realised that there are only a couple of bloggers who don’t post any pics of themselves, ever. It makes me wonder if bloggers who don’t allow readers to put a face to their name are generally less appealing/popular…or maybe simply less common, as would seem to be the case. It probably depends on what you actually blog about but I’d hate to think (maybe somewhat naively) that people would be less interested in what I had to say just because they couldn’t see who was saying it.

        As a blog reader I love learning about the people behind the blogs I follow and seeing pics of their homes, surroundings, families and pets etc definitely adds to that (in a strictly non-stalkerish way, naturally!) I’m looking to have a lifestyle type of blog (not so much fashion-based, so no outfit posts required) and I’m guessing that it’ll be extra hard to build a readership and gain interest by not giving away too much personal stuff but hopefully not impossible.

        Just to reiterate (at the risk of being seen as a lady who doth protest too much!), honestly, there’s absolutely nothing sinister behind me not wanting to be identifiable – it just concerns me that there are some creepy types around, both male and female, and although I’m not paranoid or anything I definitely would worry about them potentially knowing who I was and/or where to find me! Amber, do you think it is possible to have an online profile and build a brand around a ‘faceless’ voice? Please say yes! 🙂

        January 19, 2015
        • Jen

          REPLY

          If it isn’t too much of a worry to you that people can be odd towards you then like Amber it’s the right job for you. But if it’s going to keep you awake at night worrying there is no point.
          I imagine its like being famous you have to like being looked at and talked about apart from enjoying acting, not everyone likes to be centre of attention especially if the attention is from strange people.
          It sounds like its a worry to you same as it would be for me which is why I won’t be starting a blog now. I am glad I read this post as it really helped me decide.

          January 19, 2015
          • Suze

            REPLY

            Jen, it’s a shame that you feel that way as there’s obviously loads of positive aspects to blogging too, although naturally it’s not going to be for everyone and it certainly wouldn’t be worth regularly losing sleep over, as you say. (Why, oh why, do the freaky minority always have to spoil everything for us normal people?!!) Anyway I really appreciate the fact that Amber always gives it to us straight – an honest and open, ‘warts and all’ account of blogging – so us non-bloggers get a balanced view of what blogging really entails.

            Personally, I’m not the type of person who loves being the centre of attention, in terms of others looking at me, so I can’t see myself ever being comfortable posting lots of pics of myself online and vlogging seems a definite no-no, but, who knows, I might feel differently about all that as I got more used to blogging? Anyway I’m sure that lots of bloggers aren’t super confident when it comes to putting themselves out there to be scrutinised and whatever else, and presumably it gets easier over time. I do still want to blog though so I just have to decide how it’ll work best for me – how I can offer plenty to engage people without feeling too personally exposed. I certainly won’t be cropping heads out of photos or blurring faces etc (I find that very off-putting too) but I’m sure I can find a compromise between my creative mind and my peace of mind….where there’s a will there’s a way and all that! 🙂

            January 20, 2015
  • This is a great topic to discuss. I (thankfully) haven’t experienced anything like the emails or comments you have, but every time I share a style post I notice a surge in male followers. Not that it is inherently a bad thing but it makes me sometimes nervous for the reasons you talk about.Shame that it is the state of where things are for bloggers and women that we feel the need to have our guard up at all times.

    January 19, 2015
  • I’m happy to see somebody post about the scarier aspects of blogging. I get quite a lot of attention from the creepy tights fetishists. I’ve also been contacted by some weirdo trying to buy my used Keds. I hate when my images are taken and posted to Tumblr fetish blogs. They’re used completely out of context – which should be style-related not sexual in the slightest. It creeps me out but there’s not really anything I can do about it and I won’t let a few people ruin my blogging hobby. The second situation sounds awful too though and I often worry about that happening to me. I’ve read about a lot of other bloggers having tons of their photos and posts stolen. The fake profiles are particularly scary because, like you said, you never know what people might say and attach to your face.

    But anyway, I wish you luck dealing with the crappier people of the internet. I’m glad you didn’t let them stop you from blogging. None of this is ever your fault!

    January 19, 2015
      • Katharine in Brussels

        REPLY

        Really sorry that you, Jen and perhaps others have to deal with that. I tend to agree with Amber that showing a physical presence makes a blog more appealing. Indeed, it also strikes me as quizzical people who block, crop of blur their own faces, and with one online persona I am aware of, will even blur out all skin too and for what does not appear to be linked to reasons of religious conviction. However I respect everyone’s right to protect their privacy to the level they see fit. In addition, I highly support blocking identifiers of children, particularly young children, as seventeen year olds are pretty hard to ban from posting their photos on the Internet.
        Kudos to you, Amber, for practicing and preaching safe blogging, to include posting location photos without geotags and posting them after leaving the vicinity. Glad you don’t post real-time your location anymore–those apps are no good.

        January 28, 2015
  • Rachel

    REPLY

    I don’t blog but I have had run ins with fetishists when I sold some shoes on ebay. He wanted pictures of my shoes, but I had to be wearing them. At first I thought it was a woman just wanting to see what they looked like, (I like to see so I can imagine how my fat ankles would be) but then when they were bought and I saw the name…it was a man. And he kept emailing asking for more shoes and pictures, for a while I did I’d just up the price of the shoes, but it got a bit too much. He was asking odd questions and then he wanted me to wear them a lot to make them smell! No. No. I’m not selling shoes again.

    January 19, 2015
      • Rachel

        REPLY

        Exactly, at first I wasn’t too bothered, I don’t know him, he has no idea who I am but it just got too weird and I got a little uncomfortable. I cant imagine what weird messages bloggers get and I don’t know why. Like you said I am sure there are dedicated sites for such things and people who are only too willing to get involved.

        January 19, 2015
  • Jemma Lynch

    REPLY

    I can see why all these things were so off putting! I’m glad you never stopped though, I’ve only just found your blog and love it already 🙂
    xx
    http://www.adrugstoreaddiction.com

    January 19, 2015
  • Nice blog. Keep it up please.

    January 19, 2015
  • Ah, yes to all of this! I’ve had all of these – well, except for being chased through the woods by a baseball-bat-wielding teenager! My old neighbours sent me lots of threatening emails about an old blog I had which was on my university blog network. It wasn’t scary or anything but it was annoying – especially as they must have really had to go searching for the blog to find it, and that was a bit weird. I have stopped posting photos to Flickr entirely because of creepy fetishists – like you, I don’t object to whatever they want to be at, I just don’t want to be involved with it. I’ve had my images used on ebay – weirdly, photos of my handmade dresses used to sell shop-bought dresses made from the same fabric?!

    Most recently, and most weirdly, someone got in touch with me to tell me that a photo of me from a few years ago was being used on a fraudulent Facebook profile. I’m not on Facebook so I had to get a friend who was to check, and there I was. What made it weird was that apparently this person has been doing this for a while – the guy who contacted me about it was very vague about the whole thing, saying that it was to do with a ‘project’ that this person was trying to undermine. I googled him and he’s some steam train enthusiast – apparently there’s such fierce rivalry in the online steam train enthusiast world that fake Facebook profiles have to be created in order to cause problems! Anyway, Facebook were totally unhelpful when I asked them to remove the profile – as I don’t have an account they apparently don’t care – but the guy who contacted me got the police involved, and they sorted it out. It was so weird!

    I often think about stopping blogging entirely because there are a few people out there who I’d rather knew as little about me as possible. But blogging is part of my life and a big part, at that, so it seems a shame to stop myself from doing something I enjoy for those reasons, you know?

    Anyway – I’m glad you’ve kept on blogging, Amber. You’ve always been one of my favourites.

    January 20, 2015
    • Oh, my goodness. Steam train drama. There really is an internet community with a seedy underbelly for everything.

      January 21, 2015
  • This is scary stuff to read :O

    January 31, 2015
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