Let’s FOCUS on being a little kinder to each other

Focus on the village of Competa

Yesterday, I read with some surprise and sadness that Anita Mac, the travel blogger behind Travel Destination Bucketlist, had ended her own life, at the age of 43.  I’d never met Anita in person, but we exchanged messages from time to time, particularly last year when she was walking the Camino, in northern Spain.

Anita’s blog is filled with wonderful photographs of her travels and, not only was she inspired to continue to travel and experience more of the world, she inspired others to do the same.  Yet, despite her confident and adventurous outer facade, Anita was struggling with her own pain, as evidenced in her final post on August 22nd, “What do you do with a broken heart?”

We’ve all seen reports on TV of teenagers who have taken their own lives after being taunted by anonymous online trolls.  The anonymity of the internet sometimes makes people say things that they wouldn’t (or daren’t) say to your face.

I’m not suggesting that’s what happened with Anita, but many of us have some kind of ongoing battle in life that we may or may not choose to share with others – especially somewhere as public as on the internet.

And, who knows where the tipping point lies to push any one of us over the edge?

In the past few weeks, amongst the hundreds of ordinary, everyday comments this blog, East of Málaga …. and more has received, there have also been vile ones with no back-link, and filled with bad language.

What did I do to deserve these tirades?

One person not only left a vile comment, but also took to Twitter to tell the world about my bull**** blog, because they didn’t agree with the price of one item on my recent Cost of Living in Spain list.

Another has attacked me on their own blog because they “question the way my monthly CBBH Photo Challenge works“.    It seems that WordPress didn’t send a pingback for a “featured blogger” link they made, meaning that they weren’t “thanked personally” by that blogger they featured!  Somehow this is meant to be my fault.  Go figure!

As a result of the actions of these trolls, I’ve now switched my options so that I moderate all comments before they appear on the blog – and for that I apologise to the 99.9% of you who leave perfectly normal comments.

I’m not saying I’m above criticism – hey, if there’s something you don’t agree with – let me know.  I might even change my mind and agree with you.  But there are ways of saying things without making a complete jerk of yourself.

Maybe the actions of such trolls display some form of petty jealousy, envy of a lifestyle or of some kind of perceived success.  Who knows?

Like most people, my life is the way it is because I have planned it that way with lifestyle and monetary choices.  Some might choose to be envious – others could well be bored, but it would do us all well to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have.

This post is my response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: FOCUS.

I’ll leave you with the following quotes:

“Always be a little kinder than necessary.”  ~ J.M. Barrie

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~  Plato

98 thoughts on “Let’s FOCUS on being a little kinder to each other

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Focus | Joe's Musings

  2. I’m very sad. I don’t like to hear when people are so very desperate and in pain that they take their lives. I was following Anita’s blog but have been behind on so many blogs including this one that I did not know this until today. It is very sad. May she RIP.
    Recently, a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless, asked for prayers. There are many out there with issues that need guidance and help to keep them from doing the extreme.
    I, too, have had nasty spam in my approval box. I have had the meanest things said … AND … XXX rated photo’s sent to me that a mother would cry for hours if these were their daughters or sons.
    I agree with you. This post needed to be said.
    Blessings to you, Marianne.
    May your days be brighter and sunny.

    • Yes, very sad indeed. As I said in my original post, I know that many of us have issues in our lives that we choose not to share through our blogs, along with others who are quite open about their lives.

      Some ask for help and prayers. Others do not.

      But, no matter what – we are all human – and deserve kindness from others.

      I’m very sorry to hear about the spam you have been getting in your inbox, Issy. I wonder if you have activated the Askimet spam filter? I’m sure you have, but it’s worth mentioning …. just in case. Of course, Askimet is an automated programme and doesn’t stop vile and nasty comments, though I am shocked that you have received X rated photographs in this way.

      I have searched for information that may help you, Issy, and have found a link to WP for complaints.


      It’s just so sad that some people abuse the system that others take so much pleasure from.

      Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you, Isadora.

      Marianne x

  3. There is enough nastiness out there in our daily life. We all started our blogs to focus on beautiful and positive things. I always follow the rule that if I have nothing good to say I don’t reply.
    Recently I was shocked to see some blogs wasting their time insulting other cultures or ethnicities. What the heck are they thinking? I thought we all want our audiences to grow and sad remarks like those only serve to turn people away. No need for negativity in our virtual world. Keep writing and focusing on your beautiful surroundings.

  4. Your comment “many of us have some kind of ongoing battle in life that we may or may not choose to share with others – especially somewhere as public as on the internet” is very , very true and I identify and am sad to read of her passing.

    Both of these quotes struck me , thanks Marianne!

    “Always be a little kinder than necessary.” ~ J.M. Barrie

    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~ Plato

  5. I have been absent for a while and was devastated to read about Anita’s demise! I didn’t know her very well, but have exchanged comments a few times, and always thought of her as one of the super successful bloggers! What a tragic waste of a young and promising life.
    Sorry about the trolls on your blog Marianne. They are not worth wasting your breath over.
    That is a stunning shot by the way! Great choice for the subject of this post.

  6. I’m so sorry you’ve been getting some nasty comments. I have never gotten any, but ever since I have had a blog, I’ve always subjected them to moderation just to be safe. I’m sorry you felt you had to do this too. Ignore the haters, you have enough fans here. Obviously those knuckleheads have too much time on their hands.

    • I’ve never had any either, Amelie, until this past couple of weeks.

      Pathetic little people with no lives of their own – that’s what they are. Good riddance to them.

      Thanks for your very kind comment. I’m so lucky to have such loyal followers, so many of whom have become friends. 🙂

  7. How awful! Hey, it just means that you are that popular that others are nitpicking through post. 😉 Although, I’m glad I haven’t receive any awful comments.
    I feel bad for Anita, may she rest in peace. My zest for life is evident in my blog. But yeah, it’s not always sunshine and butterflies. we all go through tremendous serious stuff in our private lives.

    • Yes – at least that guy actually read all of my post – to be able to comment on just one item. I guess that’s a bonus! 🙂

      Your zest for life always shines through, Rommel. It’s one of the things that first drew me to your blog 🙂

  8. I can imagine how shocking it would be to have nasty comments on your blog, and it is very sad for people to even expect to be thanked when they mention another person’s blog … I don’t think anyone has ever contacted me to say thanks so I don’t think it is a blogging ‘rule’ … so sorry you have lost your blogging friend Anita … life can be too stressful for some who choose to exit, while others attack … but some of us send love and kindness to others whenever we can … love and hugs to you Marianne xxoo

    • I only ever mention/link to other people’s blogs on mine because I want to. As you say, often enough there’s no response – and it’s certainly not blogging etiquette. But I often find that whoever I feature on my CBBH monthly challenge does indeed send me a message to say thanks. Not always, but often. Perhaps that’s a reflection on the kind of people I have featured, though 🙂

      Many people DO send love and kindness to others when we can, and doesn’t that make us feel a little better because of that? But, I’m not surprised about you doing that, Christine. You are a KIVA person. Like me. 🙂

      Love and hugs back at you, too xx

  9. Great post! Sad that it has to be written though. I think people feel the anonymity of the Internet gives them that extra bravado to speak their minds without using the brain and heart God gave them. If you have to moderate, it’s sad, extra work, and maybe even annoying, but understood. Those of us who respect you, salute you. Good work on your fabulous blog!

  10. I’m sorry you got those hate-filled messages. i agree 100% with your take on these people. I once closed down a blog because someone for a similar reason. I was shocked and didn’t know how to handle it.

  11. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge- Focus | anniesshowroom

  12. Oh dear. That’s terrible. What is wrong with people? If you don’t agree with something someone wrote (like the price of a certain item) it’s so very easy to write a polite, diplomatic, even friendly comment! This seems to be happening all to frequently lately! I had another blogger friend almost shut her blog down because of vicious “trolls”. Do people not have anything better to do with their time?

    • It’s a sad reflection of society and it seems that some people don’t have anything better to do 😦

      I absolutely stand by my figures – I’ve done my research 🙂

  13. Hi not sent a note before hope this is ok i like your site a lot .ilive in turkey @ present & am thinking of a move to spain so any info is great please keep it up thank you , keith

  14. what a tragedy. such sad news. You are right – we don’t know what is really going on in people’s lives do we –
    and good for you for standing up to the ‘trolls’ – I have always moderated comments – all comments – before allowing them through … that’s just what we have to do as bloggers I guess.
    For every one ‘nasty’ there are 100 lovely comments – I have no idea why we centre our energies on the ‘one’ but that’s human nature too I guess. You have a fab blog – and CBBH is a great idea – even though I am rubbish at keeping up with it (too busy in the summer months!) so keep doing what you do – we all love ya! xx

  15. I think your decision to flush your evil messages down the inter-pipe from which no message returns, is a very good one. After all, yours is a big successful and very useful and professional website so its bound to attract crap.
    I agree with the person who said she longed for a troll attack – I feel like that. It seems that hardly anyone reads my blog except you Marianne, which is kind of you.
    Some of this hate mail you get is obviously pre meditated but I bet some is simple social incompetence. I for example, am a naturally impolite and unpleasant person and it’s taken me some time to learn that what in conversation just sounds grumpy can sound spiteful in an email.
    I have never read Anita Mac but I support her decision to take her own life. Every day we each have that freedom and that opportunity. I hope that if she did it from a “broken heart”, she was not intending to punish an ex lover.
    I’m not sure you have made the case for kindness. You quote Plato, but he was very unkind. I guess for him, writing platitudes was easier than changing his life.
    Still, like “good manners” kindness costs nothing, so why not? It’s a sort of psychological sticking plaster, a little anaesthetic to get us through the day and if we can all be that for each other, how lovely!
    Personally I prefer rudeness!

    • What a fine fellow you are, John!

      As a result of reading your comment, I have just inhaled a mouthful of my cup of rather excellent tea and almost snorted it onto my shiny new Macbook Pro!!

      You obviously know more about Plato than me. I surely wasn’t defending him, merely posting a quote that appeared to support my article. Nothing more. However, you have piqued my interest. I’ll look him up 😉

      In an effort to encourage trolls to your website, I have posted your latest article on the “Not-so-common chameleon” to my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

      Stand by!

  16. There are those who are emboldened by the anonymity of the keyboard and write some very mean-spirited things, having taken offense where none is to be found. It is their problem and not yours. Hang in there, Marianne.

  17. oh no, that is so sad. I visited her website too. wow…., sorry to hear about your trolls and I cannot even imagine a negative comment on your blog!! my first thought was jealousy too. yes, let’s all be kind to one another. life is too short.

  18. You know, let’s focus on being delighted by the fun, adventure, success, and creativity of others. Let’s be happy for the happiness of others. Let’s genuinely celebrate others and wish them well. Now, I think if we could do that, there would be no hateful remarks. Let’s be a little kinder. Just a little would do! Shove the uglies in the trash bin and carry on! 😉 This is a good post with sound thinking. And, yeah, I got your post in my Reader.

  19. What a well said post! I too read about Anita Macs suicide and just felt so sad about it. I had never met her but after reading several posts from other travel bloggers felt utterly sad that a young woman my age could take her own life that appeared so full of promise. I agree that a lot of times we hold back our own personal struggles and demons on the Internet. I do. I think we all do. Not that I wouldn’t share these things with some readers but once you hit publish your work is going public to many. Sadly some are trolls just looking to be mean. I’ve even heard at BlogHer that there is some kind of blog just about bloggers people hate! How people can be so cruel to people they don’t know is beyond me. But the bottom line is that these must be miserable u happy people to waste their time spreading nonsense. Just like real friendships you know who your true friends are even the online ones.

    • Thanks Nicole, for adding your two cents.

      How right you are – friendships developed on the internet can develop into life-long friendships all around the world – whether those people actually meet in real life, or not. A woman who has come to be my best friend is someone who I first met online. She lives on the other side of the world, but we have spent lots of time together now, not only in person, but we chat several times a week on Skype. I would never have got to know her if it hadn’t been for the internet.

      • Yes, I’ve met several really great friends as well. I think perhaps we gravitate towards each other as we are able to find like minded people who are fellow bloggers. I’ve met some wonderful friends. I have many nice friends here but none of them share my passion for the world and desire to give back. That is fine of course but it is so nice to have friends that understand me too!
        Anyway, I just wrote a post as well about Anita. I never met her but her suicide really made me think hard.

  20. I’m sorry your wonderful blog had those experiences with vile comments. Some do think it’s ok to air everything and anything just because blogging is a public forum. The blogger who experienced the pingback issue would have done better to post to a WordPress forum as missing pingbacks have be occuring recently.
    I was also very sad to hear about Anita Mac and read her last blog post. It was very brave of her to reach out like she did. Impossible to ever understand.

    • True enough, EllaDee.

      I wonder why some people think they have that right to walk all over someone else’s thoughts, feelings or words in such a vile way?

      There is obviously something sadly lacking in their character.

  21. Marianne, I read the both the blog links you provided: the one Anita Mac wrote (how incredibly sad) and the one by Green Global Travel, which was also excellent. I am so sad about Anita; she was so inspirational and seemed so positive and upbeat all the time. She inspired me to write my own bucket list and to dream big dreams! How incredibly sad this story is, plus the mean comments about your photo challenge are unbelievable! How horrible it all is that people get so nasty.

    I luckily haven’t had too many mean comments on my blog, but on my Nomad in Nizwa blog, I’ve gotten some negative comments when I’ve said anything negative (REALISTIC!) about my experiences with Omani culture. This is the problem. Everyone expects you to always be so positive; I wonder if Anita felt the same. We all have negatives in our lives, and we have our struggles, and I think it’s brave when people expose themselves and their deepest feelings. Anita was very brave to post about this and it’s so sad that she felt so heartbroken that she felt she had no option but to take her own life.

    Anyway, it all gives me food for thought as it relates to my own experience of reverse culture shock as I try to settle back in to life in the USA. I will always remember Anita for her optimism and her inspiration, and I’ll always be saddened by the tragedy of her lost life.

    • It’s like I said – just because someone is being positive about life, doesn’t mean that they aren’t hurting inside.

      Anita’s death is a tragedy, and at the very least we can try to learn a lesson from it. Be kind to one another.

      I know I’m preaching to the converted with you, Cathy. You are kindness personified.

      I hope you are settling back into your life in the USA after being away for the past few years. I’ve just posted the Moroccan chicken I promised – especially for you! xx

      • Thanks so much, Marianne. I’m having a bit of a struggle myself in settling back in, mostly with my children. I guess it will resolve itself one way or the other. Thanks so much for the Moroccan Chicken recipe! Can’t wait to try it myself!

  22. Anita and I had commented on each other’s blogs and as she always replied with such energy and enthusiasm I was shocked and saddened to hear of her death. Doesn’t take any effort to be be a little kinder; smile at a stranger, give a part-used parking ticket to the next person as you leave. Re the trolls – what goes around comes around!

  23. People who try to take down others, whether on the internet or in person (witness this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-walsh/bad-customer-service_b_3799574.html?ir=Business&utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false ) are just feeling bad about something in their own lives, feeling like sh*t and figure the only way out of it is to make someone else feel worse. Consciously or not they are passing on negative energy, and you do right to delete those comments (regardless of any rights of “free speech”!!) because you don’t want to absorb that energy. Also best way is to ignore these folk. I know it’s sometimes tempting to engage them, and I must say I’ve gien in to that temptation in the past, but they don’t change, and life is way too short to waste any time on these types.

    Kris Kristofferson said it best:
    “Everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on.”

  24. There will always be negative people out there in internet land. I don’t think people who commit suicide do it because of this, but in some cases because of other people who are (or were) close to them. In either case, it is a terrible decision that brings nothing but sadness to loved ones. The person is no longer around to blame, but it is nevertheless all on them. For me, I try to stay away from the negative. I quit Facebook because I was having trouble participating without being able to control negativity that showed up. Here in the blogosphere it is easy, you just moderate comments. I’m careful to not be too sensitive though. I accept criticism and even welcome it. But nastiness and childishness I don’t have time for. We’re not all still in High School after all! You have a nice blog here.

    • Though even moderating comments means that if negative ones are there, I will still see them – even if I don’t allow them to post onto the blog.

      None of us are above criticism, that’s for sure. But, as you say, there are ways of showing that without resorting to nastiness or downright foul-mouthed rants.

      Thanks for your kind comment about my blog. Much appreciated.

  25. Unfortunately, there always seem to be people out there who hate everyone and everything and are determined to make everyone else as miserable as they are. Especially when they’re hiding behind a laptop. I’ve had a few negative comments (but nothing as bad as what you’ve described really) – I publish them anyway and post a perfectly reasonable response that makes them look like the idiots they are 😉 Hopefully all the positive comments you’ve got on this post have cheered you up a little anyway. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Hmmmm … brave when they are in the safety of their own home and hidden behind a cloak of anonymity, aren’t they?

      I’m afraid I don’t have your acid wit, Linda (you know I mean that admiringly, don’t you?), so I have trashed the comments.

      I guess this is a side of blogging that never crossed my mind. Well, it doesn’t, does it?

      Thanks for your continued support. 🙂

  26. Ughhh I never understood the reason behind tearing people down.
    There is a quote my 3rd grade teacher taught us(mind you this was over 30 years ago now)…”when objecting the ideas of a person remember to object the idea and not the person”.
    I hope Ms. Mac and others find peace; continue to do what you do because it brings much more joy then those silly trolls can ever imagine.

    • Wise words from your teacher – and who would object to such constructive criticism in an ordered manner? Not me.

      Someone suggested to me that trolls probably lived in their mother’s basement and surfed the internet in their underpants! Who am I to disagree!?

      Thanks for your support, Christine.

  27. Marianne, I’m shocked! I don’t follow news very closely as much of it is depressing and my husband more than compensates for me. I’m a head in the sand kind of person, I guess, and not particularly proud of it. I loved your photo and was about to hop in and make a comment on the Syria situation (which even I have been unable to disregard), then I started to read. Anita Mac is one of those ladies I could have been jealous of (not unlike yourself 🙂 but never in a spiteful way. Mam always used to say “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. I can be sharp-tongued but do try to curb it (except with poor husband). The poor girl. So much goes through my head that it’s not appropriate to say. I am well familiar with depression and its effects. I’ll go and have a quiet read of her blog. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
    You don’t need me to tell you to treat them with contempt, Marianne. You’re much too feisty to give in to this kind of thing (in a good way 🙂 )

    • Your Mam’s words are very wise. We would all do well to remember them.

      I’m sure we are all guilty of jumping in too quickly from time to time, Jo. It’s only human. But how often do we hear about these kind of things and say to ourselves … “if only I’d known”.

      And, yes – treating them with the contempt they deserve!

  28. Such a sad waste of life, I read Anita’s last post and my hand trembled with the finality of it all… Ignore those haters and you’re right, we should be kinder to one another! Shalom.

  29. Shocking to hear of a travel blogger who has taken her life; I always envy the travel bloggers that are out there living my dream. This news is just truly so sad.
    A focus on kindness to each other is good advice; we all have different opinions, we are all different, and we have to respect that…or should. I’m not sure where this world is headed.
    Moderating comments is very wise. And I know I’ve developed a little thicker skin to not take personally some comments made. We can’t let that stuff get us down.

    • Many travel bloggers make their lives sound wonderful, don’t they? I guess they don’t blog about the bad things – just the great trips and experiences.

      I’ve learned a valuable lesson about moderating comments, though. I guess when I started this blog (for friends and family) I never anticipated having to moderate any comments.

  30. Marianne! Having just read your last blog ref abusive idiots,I thought I would just let you know that I think your blogs are excellent and particularly informative. I have never replied to any previous blogs but felt in this case it was justified. As regards your last cost of living article I thought it was superb as somebody who is very interested in purchasing a bolt hole in your part of Spain it was more than helpful.
    I do have some questions I would like to ask but would rather contact you via Email if you wouldn’t mind if not then no problems I fully understand!
    Once again please keep up your excellent work and as they say don’t let the B——s grind you down!

    • I’d be happy to answer any questions you have, Kevin. I’ve just emailed you – so check in case it’s gone into your spam box!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I wont let them grind me down 🙂

  31. Dear Marianne,
    I am so sorry about Anita. And I am very sorry that you have had trouble with negativity on your blog. I have been pretty fortunate that way, and I know you can’t take that stuff personally–it is more of a reflection upon them than anything to do with you–but I’m sorry you have had to deal with that. Wishing you all the best.

  32. I am so saddened by this post, not because of anything you did, dear sweet Ms. Marianne, but because of it’s content. My heart bleeds for all the hurt, harm and evil we do to one another.

    Please continue to do what you do best, be yourself. 😉

    • Please don’t worry for me, Jueseppi – this post is not a cry for help. The trolls I spoke of mean nothing to me. I was merely offering these as examples that anyone can be targeted – for whatever reason – no matter how trivial.

      Like you, my concern is for others 🙂

      We really do need to

  33. That is very sad about Anita Mac and yes, it’s a good idea to moderate comments. The one positive side of trolls (I always try to look on the bright side) is that your blog is being read – and there’s also the old ‘sticks and stones’ adage to cling to. Love the photo and the thought – keep up the good work and don’t believe in trolls or give them the credence of even existing.

  34. What a complete tragedy and waste; things must have completely overwhelmed her in the end. My Dad is always telling me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes as it is not always what it seems – my thoughts are with her family

  35. First of all, what a lovely pic!
    Aw, very sad about that travel blogger 😦
    I’m disturbed to read that you’ve had to deal with ‘haters’ – yours is not the kind of blog that I’d have thought would attract those saddos. Makes sense (in a screwed kind of a way) if you take the ‘envy’ factor into account.
    I’ve not had anything negative at all since I started blogging a year ago. I do get thinks wrong sometimes, but it’s always pointed out in a nice way – and I do welcome discussion and debate. It’s only a matter of time, I guess, until something unpleasant comes my way.
    Anyway, keep it up and don’t be deterred! As if you need telling 😉

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