Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An Explanation

So my blog has been dark for a while now and I think it's time to start posting again. But first, an explanation of what happened.

There's this website that I used to go to (please note the past tense). It was run by this "writer" in NYC (you do not count as a writer just because you write things on the internet. Let's be clear. I don't have any dillusions that I'm a writer. I'm an engineer and a damn good one. End of rant). She prided herself on her "tough love" approach of replying to submitted letters, but it really just meant she was a bitch and used labels to justify it. I never really liked her, but the other people who commented on the site were nice and entertaining so I kept going back. If the internet had a mean girl clique, she was definitely in it.

Just before New Year's, I sent her an email to contribute to her site. I read through all of her information on how she handles letters. Under the guidelines she stated, I wrote my letter. There was some very personal information in the letter but according to her guidelines, she wouldn't post it. However, I let it be known that she could use some of the information in my letter, but nowhere did I mention the very personal information because it should have been a non-issue. She clearly stated in the guidelines she wouldn't post it so I didn't give it a second thought.

About a week past and I stumbled upon her site and realized she posted my letter. Not only did she post my letter, she posted everything. EVERYTHING. All the personal stuff that was clearly supposed to be taken out. I was furious. I wrote an angry email to her but I never sent it. I figured with the readership of her site being so low (which she had posted about it at one time), no one who knew me would read it. She even had the nerve to post a statement that she knew it was out of the ordinary, but she had permission to post it, which was blatantly untrue. I stopped going to her site and I thought it was the end of things.

Well, about a week later, I was on another website I visit, one I know a lot of people I know visit, and I will never be able to clearly describe how angry I was when I saw my letter. Personal information and all. Apparently, she had sold it to this much larger website. I knew she collaborated with the site from time to time, but to choose to use my letter, containing such personal information, was a horrible thing to do. It felt like my skin was on fire. My hands were shaking. I couldn't see straight.

I think I wrote the fastest email I had ever written. I wrote to her telling her that I did not give her permission to use that information in the first place and she needed to have it pulled from the bigger site. Then, still furious, I wrote a second email telling her I wanted her to delete the information from her site as well.

Still seething, I got a response from her 20 minutes later. She basically called me stupid and crazy. She told me if I wanted it off the other site, I needed to take it up with them. And that she wasn't going to change what she had originally posted. She called it "nonsense" and told me there was nothing she could do about it.

Yeah, right. Because some big book company must have come along and wanted to publish her website. It's a website! She would have just had to do Ctrl+F and it would have taken her two seconds, but she decided to be a bitch about it.

So I sent a reply clearly outlining the fact that it was not nonsense, I had not given her permission, and she needed to remove it. Then, I took her advice and emailed the other website. I emailed their contact email. I emailed the editor-in-chief. I commented on the piece. I did everything I could to bring attention to the piece because even if in some twisted world she thought she had permission to post my information, there was no way in hell this other website had the permission.

She replied to me and started to act like a raving loon. If it would have been outloud, I imagine it sounded like a middle school girl having an episode. She started screaming (all caps) about how she did have permission and she made some sort of "exception" for me (gee, thanks for only exploiting me) and that she refused to remove it.

I went back to my original email and quoted what I had specifically given her permission to post. She tried to twist it so it did give her permission and continued to throw a hissy fit. After a couple more emails back and forth, I started talking to her like she was a child since she clearly wasn't responding to logic. Once I got her to calm down, she emailed me a bunch of stuff she probably shouldn't have, declared she made a mistake ever publishing my letter, and decided she would delete everything associated with it. Fine by me.

Then, she had the nerve to tell me to never come back to her site again and to never email her again. Yeah, I'm just itching to spend more time on her site.

I wrote her a two word email telling her thank you and again, poorly assumed it was the end of it. I checked on the other site and was pleased to see that they had already removed my personal information, leaving the remainder of the letter, which was all I had asked the crazy lady to do. No angrily worded emails from them. Just simply removed the information and moved on, like the professional site they are.

About an hour later, I got one final email from her. She was screaming at me about how I had the nerve to go to the other website (which is EXACTLY what she told me to do) and how I had jeopardized her relationship with them by spreading lies (when I only told them the truth as it was) and that "this is the reason I have lawyers". 1) No lawyer in the right mind would have told her it was ok to post my personal information even if I had given her permission. 2) I outlined so clearly what she could post that no one could read that and assume I had given her the rights to publish what she did. 3) She may know lawyers, but she definitely doesn't "have" lawyers.

Just in case it wasn't a threat (or she decided to go true middle school girl on me and try to retaliate in some way), I disconnected my internet identity. Deleting profiles, links, connections from anything that could be associated to the real me. I realized that I've been too careless how my internet identity could affect my real one. The negativity of the internet has been getting the best of me and I decided to stop it. I don't visit sites that just tear people down. I don't visit blogs unless I know the person is a good person in real life. I don't comment unless my words reflect the person I really am. So now, my policy is I'm not posting anything I don't want my little sister or my mother-in-law or my husband or my manager to read. It may make things more dull, but it'll be less likely to give me an ulcer.

Also, for future reference, most of the time, people put the best of themselves out there. If someone is acting like a bitch on the internet, odds are that is the best of them and they are an even worse person in real life. If it waddles like a bitch and quacks like a bitch, well, you know...

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