I feel like maybe the universe is trying to show me something.
First, a couple weeks ago, I was shocked and distraught to learn that a blogger, Emily McDonald, that I had been following for a long time was alledgedly purposely harming her fragile preschooler in a potentially fatal bid for attention (which all of us on the Internet had given her). Then a similar story came out about another blogger, Rebeccah Beushausen, who just made up her 'sick baby' story.
This week, a fellow mom tweeter came across a horrible, racist employment ad on Kijiji.... in following up, I learned that it was actually a malicious smear attempt. Phew.... sort of. Phew, that no one actually thought it was ok to put "Blacks and Asians need not apply in a want ad, but scary at how long that ad stayed up and how many people might have thought it was legitimate.
So, what's the universe trying to tell me?
Well, I think it's a reminder about thinking critically - that facts aren't always truth, especially when you can't experience it for yourself. How much am I teaching my kids about this? That what they see on TV, in books and on the radio is someone else's representation and that they need to decide whether that representation is right, every time. Do I challenge them to do this enough? Challenge myself? Perhaps not.
I don't blog a lot about the business, mainly because I'm figuring that my readers (if they are any out there!) probably won't find the day-to-day minutiae of running a little online business that fascinating. But these past few weeks have also been a good lesson in brand protection. I've checked my Google Alerts to make sure that I see when our name pops up and kept an eye on analytics to see who is coming to the site and why. The Google tools are easy to use and free - a no-brainer for me.
Battening down the hatches and hiding isn't an option - I need to be "out there" learning and sharing and I enjoy it too. By being out there and authentic, it protects our brand too - because my genuine voice is easily distinguished from those with malicious intent.
I've never been good at paranoia - I believe in karma and that if you think the best of people, they'll usually deliver. And even on the internet, that's true - this is the first time in many years that I've ever encountered truly scary people. That's not to say that caution and good sense won't serve well both in the internet's wild west or the quiet streets of Toronto.
So, ok, universe, I got the message. Back off, now, ok?