Television Without Pity Sucks Dot Com: What It's Like to Be Really, Really Hated Online

BlogHer Original Post

I used to have a real problem with people disliking me. Like, a real problem. I couldn't let it roll off my back, I couldn't "get over it," and I couldn't stop thinking about why. Whyyyyy don't they liiiiiike me?! And then along came Television Without Pity, and I learned what it meant to be really, horribly, histrionically hated. I also learned what whackjobs exist on the Internet.

Why was I hated? Oh, for so many reasons: liking a character, disliking a character, liking a show, disliking a show, performing my duties as a TWOP forum moderator, not performing my duties as a TWOP forum moderator, being a woman, being married, being a writer, being a recapper, being a moderator, making jokes, not making enough jokes, being boring, being over-the-top, being condescending, being mean, being nice, and for many of them, just being me was enough of an offense.

Television Without Pity logo

I'll tell you what, when I started recapping and moderating the forums for Television Without Pity, I never expected that I'd touch so many people. It's actually quite astonishing, and I still can't quite wrap my head around it. At first, I just got hate email. Each one had his or her "reasons" and unique ways of talking about my mother and even more unique ways of spelling various curse words.

I never kept track of how much hate email I got, but it was more than one and less than 20 a year. Probably. At first, it really hurt. Like, a lot. It hurt way more than I wanted it to hurt, and I didn't know how to stop it from hurting every time one of those poisoned little missives stank up my inbox. A few times I wrote the troglodytes back and tried to argue with them, tried to convince them they were wrong or misguided or just plain stupid. Yeah, well, speaking of stupid? That was stupid. It's not like any of them ever responded, "Oh, you have a point: I am SOOOO sorry I called you all those names and said you were awful at your job and on second thought I really DON'T think you should drop in a hole and die." All it did was prolong my exposure to some deeply unhappy people.

Clearly, being part of a popular and high-traffic site was going to get recappers both wanted and unwanted attention. Being popular or well-known anywhere is going to get you wanted and unwanted attention, and the conventional wisdom (and that of our mothers) is that how much you are hated is directly related to the level of your popularity. Question: has that wisdom ever made anyone feel better? Because it never did me. It's like, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I get it intellectually, but it completely misses me emotionally.

Speaking of emotion. I had it in spades. When I got those emails, I'd get so upset, I'd be shaking. Anger, frustration, and shock were all mixed in there together. But I didn't actually feel physically ill until I learned about the hate boards. That's right, there were (are?) entire discussion boards solely dedicated to how much Television Without Pity sucks. If I recall correctly, they were started by ex-TWOP posters who had been banned for some offense or another. Or maybe they had gotten upset with the way TWOP was running things or writing things and had left the boards of their own accord. Again, the haters had their reasons.

Not every recapper was lucky enough to be represented on these anti-TWOP boards, but some of us had threads completely dedicated to the pursuit of individual hatred. Being curious and a serious glutton for punishment, I once browsed the thread assigned to my TWOP handle, and what I read there was truly disturbing.

There were the predictable issues with my writing style and my moderating style. Speculations about my personality and home life. Then there were hopeful fantasies that my husband would ditch me to have an affair with another recapper's wife. (They hated that other recapper, too. Something about him being a lawyer really bothered them.) The best thing was that one of these hate board denizens was making a practice of going around to graveyards and taking photographs of headstones that bore the name of my handle, "Keckler." Because, you know, I deserved it.

Sick and twisted, and man, were they proud of it! They reveled in their hate, gorged themselves on their bile, and seriously seemed to do or think of nothing else. After a few weeks of soul-wounding obsession, I finally pulled myself away from those boards. And, except for what I detailed above, I did forget all the nasty crap they said about me. I mean, I remember there was nasty crap, but I can't remember a whole lot of specifics. I let it go. I moved on.

I know there are a lot of bloggers out there who have likewise received hateful email or comments on your posts. They're nothing better than schoolyard bullies, and they're never going to stop or go away. And why? Because people are always going to be that screwed up, mean, and just really ugly. It's a sad way to live, honestly, and -- trite as it might sound -- I actually do feel sorry for them. Does that sound condescending? I sure hope so. But that doesn't negate my pity.

I'll tell you something else, after reading those threads and knowing what sort of twisted minds are out there, pounding away on keyboards in the dark and driven by an obsessive hatred they can't seem (or don't want) to escape, I really don't give a crap what people think about me anymore. TWOP Sucks and others like you? With a total and complete absence of sarcasm, I seriously cannot thank you enough. I'm way more comfortable in this thicker skin.

Related:
Part 1: Recapping for Television Without Pity Turned Me Into a Writer
Thank You, Mean Internet People, for Making Me Stronger

Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a Pop Culture C.E. for BlogHer Blogs at: The Grub Report and KQED's Bay Area Bites

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