A week ago, someone called me out on Twitter for a perceived grammatical error in one of my posts. That person told me to “get it together.” I corrected that person on the rule, but my would-be grammar adviser didn’t like it one bit. That person responded in true ATL commenter style by retorting, “Maybe that [rule] will help you pass the bar exam.”
That person was another woman. I reminded her that she’d been using her real name while making her snide remarks, and she immediately deleted her Twitter account. She’d apparently forgotten that she wasn’t using her anonymous commenting handle, and didn’t want to be associated with what she’d said.
Perhaps that’s why our commenters feel like they have free rein to say whatever they want, no matter how racist, how sexist, or how anti-gay it may be — they can disclaim ownership, because in the majority of cases, they’re not using their real names. It’s much easier for lawyers and law students to be vile when they don’t have to associate themselves with what their online personalities have said in real life.
That said, it’s difficult being a minority online, whether that word is used to describe race, gender, or sexual orientation. If you’re interested in learning how to engage your commenters, you should attend Above the Law’s inaugural Attorney@Blog conference, where I will moderate a panel on racism, sexism, and homophobia in online commenting platforms, featuring the following distinguished panelists:
- Vivia Chen, chief blogger at The Careerist, who has been covering law and business — with a focus on career and women — for more than 10 years;
- Jessie Kornberg of Bird Marella, former executive director of Ms. JD and member of the ABA’s Presidential Commission on Women in the Profession; and
- Will Meyerhofer, a Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist, who frequently writes about issues lawyers face at The People’s Therapist.
This panel will explore the various strategies and best practices (along with their intellectual underpinnings) available to legal bloggers in managing the dark side of the internet: the “trolls” who engage in offensive and hateful (albeit protected) speech.
For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. Up to six ethics CLE credits will be available. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.
Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]