Negativity Online + Why I Won’t Be a Full Time ‘Influencer’

I’ve sat on this post for a week, talked about it on social media but been too nervous to publish it. I don’t want to come across as moaning, or ungrateful. But yesterday, after seeing another runner call out the shaming and the trolling, and the passive aggressive no names but making it plainly obvious who you’re talking about BS… it was time to talk about it. 

online negativity

‘Stop using African children to get Instagram likes’.

I’m lucky that this is about the worst of the online negativity I receive, my adopted kill them with kindness approach at replying to every message has worked pretty well so far. For every person I’ve replied to, I have always received a nice reply from them.

What hurt me most in terms of online negativity, wasn’t actually trolling but passive aggressive tweets surrounding my decision to run the Boston Marathon.

The worst part, three of the people were girls I knew. Girls I would have said were insta friends. A girl I’d been on holiday with…

online negativity

Sadly Jordan behind the Instagram projectmarathongirl has had a similar experiences She shared this with me after she was subject to some not-so-discreet Instagram bitchiness…

‘Since my followers have grown, I have experienced the other side of social media. Body shaming, criticism, unwanted opinions… I have had my fair share, and I am fed up of it! I have had messages from people I don’t know commenting on my weight & appearance, and I have messages from people saying I post too much about running and then recently I came across two public posts that were very clearly a personal dig at me, my posts & trying to put me down for posting about my achievements. 
I am only human, and unfortunately these sorts of messages & comments do get to me. People need to remember that no matter how many followers someone has, that behind those little squares is a real person. From now on I will be trying to block out the negativity and focus on the good, because there is a lot out there and it deserves to be celebrated!” 
online negativity

I just don’t understand why people feel that they can say things hidden behind their screen, that they would never dream of saying to someone’s face. Or maybe they would and people are meaner than I want to believe they are. Paul Addicott, a well known runner who sacrifices a lot of his time and energy to pace races around the world (paying his own way!) told me about his experience of online mockery, with people making fake accounts just to do so.

It is NOT OK.

Online bullying and trolling is unacceptable. In my opinion, if you have a particular problem, send a polite direct message to the person, rather than slating them in public. I reply to every single criticism, but it’s upsets me far more when someone doesn’t come to me individually.

I have started screenshotting and saving the lovely messages that I get, because somehow, amongst so much lovliness, it’s only the negative DMs that I remember. They say it takes 7 positive comments to balance out a negative but I question whether, when it comes to social media, we need more.

By opening up so much of my life online, I open myself up to criticism and feedback (wanted or unwanted). I wish I could take on board the advice I read recently – ‘what other people think of you is none of your business’. If only it was that simple…

As Jordan said, we’re only human and it’s hard not to take negative comments and online digs are hard to shake off. No matter how thick skinned you are. Blogger and instagrammer Zanna Van Dijk recently had to turn off her reply function on Instagram because of the messages she was receiving.

online negativity

I understand there are issues around disclosing paid partnerships that really upset people, and it irritates me just as much as you – when I see people being shady around what they’ve been paid to post, or when I’ve been part of the same campaign and know that people have been paid without adding AD to their post. Personally, I don’t think #Sp is clear enough.

When we’re not paid is when it gets tricky and there’s quite a lot of confusion around what counts as a ‘sponsored post’ – I had understood it as a paid for post. When I’m given free product without guaranteeing to post, then I don’t see that as sponsored. However, I want to be as open as possible with you all, so from now on, i’ll use #RBPartner I have been sent a product that I’m talking about but haven’t been paid to do so. I hope this helps clear things up. Lucy (a lawyer and fellow blogger) wrote a great post for bloggers – and readers – on when something is deemed an AD or not.

I recently had someone report me to the ASA (the advertising standards authority) because they thought that I was using an affiliate link on some tea I mentioned, which I wasn’t. And to be clear from that, when there are affiliate links, (of which I don’t do many because I never want to feel pressured to push a product), then I will always let you know on the post.

online negativity

The reason I won’t become a full time ‘influencer’, and have not postponed my dietetics degree, (even though it is a crazy amount of work right now), is because social media is fickle. People’s opinion of you can change so quickly. I will post something and get over 2000 likes, then post another image and only receive 500 likes. And it affects me more than I like admitting.

Imagine having a job that relies solely on how much people like you?

Whenever I receive any negativity online, I question why I blog and share my life on social in the first place. To be honest, my level of criticism is quite low, and I take everything to heart, so maybe I need to toughen up. But realistically, I work so hard on this blog that when I get sent passive aggressive messages or see tweets/fb messages where I’m not mentioned by name but it’s clear that I am involved, I get really upset.

For every pound I make on this blog, I’ve probably spent two. And for every blog post, instagram picture or collaboration, there is hours and hours of work behind it. There are stressful situations behind the ‘perfect’ insta, deadlines that get pushed back and payments that take months to come through (not to mention taxes, but that’s one of life’s guarantees, right).  I make so much free content that when I get a backlash for working with brands, it breaks my heart.

I always try to work with brands that I think you guys will genuinely love as much as I do. Brands who I buy the kit from, or use in my daily life anyway, or am intrigued to try and feedback on! I have turned down lots of collabs and pulled out midway when the brand asks for something (wording etc) that I’m not happy with.

Most fitness/running bloggers I know didn’t get into it to make money or get freebies, they did it to share their journey and hopefully help and inspire people. They want to share advice, anecdotes from their own challenges and encourage others to participate.

And that’s what I still want. So to everyone that has ever sent me a lovely message, you have no idea just how much they mean to me. I now screenshot every single one and remind myself, during tough times, of why I do this.

25 Comments

  1. September 20, 2018 / 10:03 pm

    What a lovely blog, such a shame thay it has to be said. Many of us engage positively with each other, shame others feel the need to be so negative

  2. Ella Rogers
    September 20, 2018 / 10:24 pm

    Thank you for your honesty. I love reading your blog and find it such an inspiration – I ran my first half marathon this past weekend!

  3. Elizabeth
    September 20, 2018 / 10:27 pm

    Charlie I have followed your blog for years now (and Paul’s actually!) and I always look forward to reading it. I love your content and your honesty which means that it resonates with me despite me being old enough (51) to be your mother! It must be hard to ignore the haters but keep trying. Negativity is its own reward in the end!

  4. September 20, 2018 / 10:57 pm

    Charlie,

    First of all, I’m sorry to read that you’ve been subject to the more negative side of social media recently. It’s something that we cannot avoid unfortunately!
    It’s clear how much work you put into this blog and your social media accounts as a whole. It takes determination, dedication, and of course a genuine writing ability, all while balancing training for running events and while earning your degree- you honestly have a genuinely outstanding work ethic!

    Yet, inevitably when your hard work gets recognised and rewarded there’ll be a select few who have nothing to offer other than negativity (tiptoeing around using the term ‘da haterz’).

    A lot of the time people are probably actually quite envious of your capabilities. Your work ethic is something very few people have.
    It may be difficult to accept, but there are people that would love to be like you- they want to be as great as you.

    In reality, it’s actually a compliment, a recognition of what you’ve achieved disguised as an insult, but a compliment nonetheless. Some people can’t push themselves to the heights you’ve reached, and so it’s easier for them to try and bring you down to their level.

    Often, the negativity is more of a reflection of the person commenting. Do they have the drive and qualities like you to merit your well-deserved achievements? They’ve probably already conceded that one themselves.

    I’ve been following this blog for a while now and enjoy every post. Reading your blog is uplifting and makes me want to get out and pound the pavements more myself! We’ve never met and this is actually only my first comment, but you seem like such a lovely person and I hope you’ll continue to produce the same great and inspiring content for us in the future.

    Thank you for all your hard work Charlie- let’s turn the negatives into positives!

    Ellis

  5. Samuel Lafaye
    September 21, 2018 / 12:28 am

    Charlie: You have been an inspiration to me, your hard and dedication in living a healthy and active life have made you positive role model. You are doing a great job, and I look forward to reading more blogs from you.

  6. September 21, 2018 / 3:34 am

    Its sad that you have to write these kinds of posts. Honestly, I think in most cases the situations you’re dealing with is jealousy. People are heartless and unkind. I love every post you write and I would LOVE to travel as much as you do. Do you think that without being a blogger/influencer you would travel as much as you do??

  7. Laura
    September 21, 2018 / 4:42 am

    I love your blog and insta posts!! You’re such an inspiration to me, as I have big dreams of qualifying for Boston someday. Please don’t stop doing what you’re doing, and posting what you post! You’re so lovely, and SUCH AN INSPIRATION!! ??

  8. Debbie
    September 21, 2018 / 7:42 am

    I feel sad to hear that there are so many mean and jealous people in the world. Just keep doing what ur doing, try to block the trolls and focus on the good. Talking out about it is good!! Hope u find ur way to deal with the negativity because unfortunately it’s not going to go any time soon. I live ur honesty and even though I haven’t been running for nearly 2 years I continue to follow u because of ur pureness. Take care ?

  9. Kat
    September 21, 2018 / 8:58 am

    That post makes my inner bear come out and roar at all the negative commenters to step back into their little house of jealousy and self-pity… that aside, I think you being in the public eye makes people think they have a right to judge and them being behind a screen makes them mean. But please dont let that deterr you from continuing your blog and documentation of running life and fun, because the silent majority likes to read it! I for example rarely comment, but read every post.
    Cheers, kat

  10. September 21, 2018 / 9:17 am

    Great post Charlie, and I can totally empathise. I’ve seen the passive aggressive posts and comments and it bugs me too – even if they’re not about/involving me! I’m always massively impressed with your work ethic, and I know and have seen the amount of hours you put into your blog and social media content. Stick with it, and as you’ve already said, remind yourself of the people you’re inspiring and motivating rather than the people you’re making jealous!

  11. September 21, 2018 / 10:41 am

    Smashing it dude. When I grow up I wanna blog like you 😉 x
    Also, hate the word ‘influencer’. I write my blog to inspire not influence.

  12. September 21, 2018 / 11:23 am

    Hi Charlie, I would say the any negativity you get is due to jealousy. Your content is fantastic and you’re one of the reasons I started blogging. Your best trait is you’re honestly. If something is rubbish, you say so and that’s what I want to hear. Not that everything is great because you were given it. I have to admit I find the African children comment funny. It’s a pity people can’t see what fun those kids and you are having and miss that it is a great picture and how fun running is. Keep up the great work!

  13. Simon Canning
    September 21, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    Hi Charlie,
    Having met you personally and seen how you work I have no doubt you are entirely honest and truthful, and have nothing but genuine intentions to provide people with good clear information on running, your journey, and your various projects you go on to help create content. If there are “keyboard bullies” getting on your case it is jealousy. However, as you admit, it stings however you rationalise the intent behind the mean cheap shots people take.
    I used to look after people on holiday and they would by all accounts have a great time, be really friendly and receive great service and 48 hours after said guests go home I get a forwarded letter of complaint, suggesting they have had an awful time and actually telling completely fabricated stories of their terrible service. And oh how it would literally take me off my feet. Even if every other guest has had a good week and 99% of feedback was great I would be genuinely upset.
    I have no cliches or platitudes to give (I would not patronize an experienced writer such as yourself) however my thoughts ‘re this post are;
    You write really interesting varied posts that are clear with regards to whether there is a ‘sponsor’ involved and whether product tests are conducted with total freedom on your behalf or if a company or organisation have a vested interest. And even then I know if you felt the product or service was lacking you would say so.
    If someone has suggested you would be so cynical as to “use an African child” for your agenda then they don’t know you.
    You crack on Charlie, as there are a lot of people out there that you help, and provide motivation to, through honesty, truth, transparency and that ever present smile.
    Just my thoughts. They won’t actually make a difference because sadly bad envelops good and leaves one questioning everything.
    Kind regards
    Simon Canning.
    Ps I am just envious at how you are able to keep so many different aspects of your life going, from academia, to child minding, to training and hopefully also fun with your husband family and friends.
    Ps. Stuff the “keyboard bullies, the jealous negative shadows that have nothing better to do than critique those better than themselves.

  14. Andrea
    September 21, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    Just wanted to say you are doing a great job of balancing a very busy life and maintaining a positive/helpful blog. Keep it up!

  15. dallasrpi
    September 21, 2018 / 3:32 pm

    The more popular you get the more negativity you will get. Its just a numbers thing, you might have 1 in 100 a$$holes but they stick out and the more people you have the more a$$holes come into the equation. You just have to find a way to not respond and ignore them and feed their trolling.

  16. Lori
    September 22, 2018 / 2:34 am

    Maybe I’m just really old and just too late to the game on the evolution of blogging but it seems to me that if there’s an account I don’t care for or stop getting anything out of I only need to stop following said account and that will be out of my life forever. It’d be like watching a show I hate rather than changing the channel. Leaving negative comments is just unnecessarily mean.

    I find your account to be honest and you to be adorable. Please keep your head held high and know that you are a little shining light in the day of many folks.

  17. September 22, 2018 / 8:53 am

    Ah Charlie, I’ve loved seeing how your blog has developed over the years to become the awesome, inspiring place that it is. I hope you realise how much you mean to us small fry bloggers, achieving the success whilst still remaining a down-to-earth, grounded and genuinely lovely person. It’s a unique quality! X

  18. September 23, 2018 / 11:41 pm

    Sad that you have to say this, but I’m glad you & others have been willing to speak up. There’s a lot of negativity in another forum I’m a part of too – and it’s just sad. Why do women need to tear others down to build themselves up? Keep doing you!

  19. Julia
    September 25, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    What upsets people is the obvious disconnect between “I’m doing it because I love it” and “I’m doing it because I love it, but I also want to get more likes, more followers, and more sponsorships”. You are not a full time influencer because you’re not making enough from those partnerships, not because you opted out and decided to get off social media.
    I don’t leave negative comments on Instagram and let people go on with their lives as they please, but I’ve been ever so slightly annoyed by your posts in the past, including those “I’m going to bring the light into people’s lives on nutrition, and exercise, and how to do it right”. I’m on Instagram for God’s sake. I want to read memes and see pictures of fellow runners. I don’t want to be educated, or taught, or anything. If I do, I go see a licensed physical therapist or a coach who’s been in business for 20 years. It’s like those Instagram “running coaches” who are trying to BQ – what’s the point if you haven’t done it enough times yourself?
    Someone above commented that “You are adorable” – and that’s the nature of social media. We are there to look at adorable people doing adorable things. Are you inspiring in a professional sense? Not really, you are just a regular person getting by doing things, while working full time and attending to your husband. It’s not negative – very few people accomplish something significant. Paula Radcliffe is inspiring, Shalane Flanagan is inspiring, Abebe Bikila is inspiring. It’s great that you run, amazing that you have the strength to try to BQ, work and study, but this “online negativity” is the same as people pushing you in the subway. It’s life.

    • charlotte
      September 25, 2018 / 9:57 pm

      Hi Julia, Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry that you get slightly annoyed by my posts. I hope I don’t claim to bring the light into people’s lives on nutrition – I actually think that eating real food is the way forward. The only time I think I ‘bring the light’ is when I’m tube feeding patients on intensive care which I find incredible. And I will have to agree to disagree on what I use Instagram for… I love a good meme but find it one of the best places to be inspired, motivated and educated too! Agree Paula and Shalane are massively inspiring, but we can find inspiration in many people, especially those around us – personally I find my mum and Grandfather inspiring.

      Lastly, I don’t like to talk about money but I’m getting paid significantly more from my blog and Instagram than I did for my full time publishing job, but as I mentioned, I think that the influencer world is too unreliable and fickle and with a mortgage to pay, I’d be too nervous to put all my eggs in the instagram/blog basket.

    • Starbratt
      September 26, 2018 / 1:34 pm

      Oh sweetie. You can just click “unfollow.”

  20. Elise
    September 26, 2018 / 1:54 am

    Shame life isn’t as black and white aye

  21. Elise
    September 26, 2018 / 2:01 am

    We can all hide behind a screen, truth is everyone does
    And life isn’t always so peachy
    Behind closed doors and all…..

  22. Heidi
    September 26, 2018 / 7:16 am

    Definitely not a comment on your online activities, but I can see it from both sides. There are a lot of unqualified people out there “influencing” people in a negative way to make money. Receiving criticism is part of everyone’s job, it’s not just bloggers who receive negative comments, let’s not forget that nurses, teachers, doctors and plenty of other professionals doing important jobs also experience “negative” feedback. And they don’t have the online fans jumping to their defence telling them how wonderful they are, they deal with it in a professional way, not by calling people jealous haters.

    As you say, it’s ok to respectfully disagree and that doesn’t mean I have to stop reading your blog, just because I disagree with and make comment on one particular topic does not make me a negative hater.
    I am one person who asked you about whether or not you consider free products sponsorship and I really appreciate your response to this, thank you.

    I am sure it’s a fine balance between sharing your life / goals / dreams and making money off it, and I think this is where readers like me become disenfranchised. I like to look at IG and blogs because I run and I am interested in how people train etc. but it’s gets boring when everyone you follow is trying to sell the same product over and over again. I personally don’t find the online running community the slightest bit inspiring, just interesting. If anything, it makes me feel bad about myself so I limit consumption.

  23. October 1, 2018 / 7:15 pm

    Hi Charlie,

    You have to have a tough skin when you put yourself out in public.

    There are many people out there who will not like what you say – but equally there are thousands who take inspiration from what you do and say.

    My wife, who turned fifty a week ago, is going to run her first half marathon in 2 weeks and part of the motivation has been your inspiring blog. Isn’t that brilliant – that you have inspired people to take up running.

    My daughters have now taken up running because they see the positive effects it has had on my wife.

    Try to ignore the negativity and just remember the incredible difference you can make by encouraging people to take up running and which can then have a transformational effect on their physical and mental health and that of their families.

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