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Why are people mean?

by Marian Schembari on April 22, 2010

Part of having such a public online persona is dealing with assholes, but because I’m not a fancy celebrity or get super controversial, that’s never really been an issue.

Until now. For no apparent reason. Seriously. It’s over grammar.

Today I received this comment on my post about developing a writing style:

“Remember, unless your a New York Times blogger” no wonder you couldn’t hack it in book publishing. ever heard of proofreading? also, i checked out your other posts and your writing style is incredibly sloppy.

My first instinct was to delete the offending comment, but if you go to the post you’ll see it’s still there.

I’d like to point out a few things, in no particular order. Sloppy or not, here it goes:

1. Bite me.

2. The comment is anonymous, the name listed as XX. Obviously our little friend knew he/she was being a total dick and opted to not reveal their name. Know what we call that? A wuss.

3. I MADE A FUCKING TYPO. And my blog isn’t the New York Times. It’s not a fancy publication. My readers are in their 20s and if they want presentable news they can go somewhere else. You want legit advice and observations about blogging and careers, you come here. I don’t have time to proofread every post more than once. I write for other publications where that’s important.

4. Learn to capitalize, Grammar Nazi.

5. Didn’t hack it in book publishing? Um. Do your research. I’m awesome.

6. His/her email is Feel free to email.

7. Aspiring editor. Aspiring. And what do you do? What’s your blog traffic? Did I ask you to bite me yet?

My email response to our friendly neighborhood asshole:

Hey there,

If you have constructive criticism, it’s always welcome, but your sweeping, accusatory comment is in no way helpful. Being incredibly mean for no reason other than maliciousness isn’t the most productive use of your time. If you don’t like my blog, don’t read it.


What do you guys think? Did I handle this right? Am I overreacting? Why the hell do people do things like that?

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  • Pearls of Wisdom NYC

    RT @marianschembari: Why are people mean?

  • Marian Schembari

    {latest post} Why are people mean?

  • alexisgrant

    I would delete a comment like that. News site have to think twice about moderating criticism. But this is your blog. Conversation is welcome. Mean comments aren't. Especially anonymous mean comments.

  • Carin Siegfried

    I think you totally handled this right. Speaking as a Grammar Nazi myself, that was totally uncool of Mr. Anonymous. Everyone makes typos. Everyone types too quickly, has too little time, and relies on spellcheck too much. We are human, not copyeditors. And if you're going to criticize others, you need to be man enough to use your name. It's true, there might be some consequences, but if you can't take the heat, don't start a fire. I hope this guy rethinks his attitude. New York will chew him up and spit him out if such tiny issues get him so worked up.

  • paulocampos

    If you decide not to delete it, addressing internet tormentors in a blog post like this one is at least productive. If a nitwit's not adding to discussion, that doesn't prohibit you from starting an actual conversation in a blog post like this.

    It's often easier to tear someone's hard work apart than to build up your own. Particularly if you're anonymous.

  • katy love

    RT @marianschembari: {latest post} Why are people mean?

  • Meghan

    I'm not get super controversial.

  • K. A. Harrison-Adcock

    Eff that guy. You're awesome, and that comment was nothing more than the blogosphere equivalent of a drive-by, probably the result of jealousy/low blood-sugar/spite. Nothing to fret over, and your response is a deliciously savage burn. You go girl.

  • kay

    I hope he/she doesn't wonder over to my blog. It sounds like a jealous competitive blogger trying to rock your boat.Their comment was not proffessional at all and so to that I wouldn't give that comment the time of day. Maybe he/she had one too many.HA. It's like graffiti on a wall. I would say to them–“your comment is not appreciated due to the unproffesional content so therefore Scarlet ..I don't give a Damn.” Did I spell everything right??

  • Antonio

    I think you're the fucking man. Or rather, WOman. Regardless, you have my full support, as always, because you're my big sis <3

  • kate

    attagirl marian. ps i just did a big shout-out to you in my blog as an idol who responds to fan letters, so take that for what it's worth.

  • Marian Schembari

    Last night sucked…. {latest post} Why are people mean?

  • BrianneVillano

    I'm glad you left it up. If nothing else, it's an example of how not to leave a comment.

    I don't think you're overreacting necessarily, but if you're anything like me, one thing that might set me off on a good day is also something that might set me off on a bad day. So don't let it get to you. You handled it with class.

  • Heather

    “Remember, unless your ( SHOULD BE YOU”RE) a New York Times blogger” …… That's all I want to say about this :)

  • Robin K. Blum

    Don't know if 'aspiring' appreciated your response, but I certainly did. Blow off the idiot and keep on with the good work.

  • Marian Schembari

    LOL, no that was my typo — that's what started this whole mess. I typed “your” and apparently that was a serious offense.

  • Marian Schembari

    Agreed. And thanks doll :)

  • Marian Schembari

    Ah! Greatest post ever! Thanks for the mention! And encouraging fan mail is always appreciated…

  • NicoleS

    That is the WORST. I hate the haters.

    also, i love how this anonymous person didn't even use proper grammar in their insane comment. do you know what i mean? the least they could have done was dot their i's and cross their t's.

  • Pete Kistler

    @marianschembari: Why are people mean?

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  • Susan

    Well, in a way, the fact that you've attracted in an internet troll means your blog has arrived. I know comments like this can kind of sting, though. I've gotten nasty blog comments, nasty emails in response to some of my blog posts or articles, and mean-spirited anonymous comments on articles I've written. It's probably also a sign that these people don't have enough going on in their lives. The blog YoungHouseLove has a cute way of handling meanies. Their comment policy says something to the effect of, “we're a drama-free zone so we reserve the right to remove mean-spirited comments.”

  • Marian Schembari

    Thanks Robin, I totally needed that!

  • Sarah

    He thought he was being smart, but instead he was mean. You taught him a lesson! Marian kicks 5 butts before breakfast. xo

    And remember to pity the ignorant….

  • N.

    “There is an easy formula for doing it wrong: publish attention-getting bullshit and pull stunts to generate mindless traffic. The entire quote-unquote ‘pro blogging’ industry — which exists as the sort of pimply teenage brother to the shirt-and-tie SEO industry — is predicated on the notion that blogging is a meaningful verb. It is not. The verb is writing. The format and medium are new, but the craft is ancient.”

    – John Gruber,

  • Marian Schembari

    I have no idea what this means. Would love some elaboration…!

  • Jamie

    My policy with that type of thing is just to ignore it. People who leave negative comments, really just want attention and I'm not going to give them it and react.

    And as always… haters to the left, lady. To the freaking left.

  • Marian Schembari

    Part of that “5 butts before breakfast” thing reminds me of the Chuck Norris website ( I'm totally flattered.

  • Lisa

    Obviously, mean man is jealous — take it from a mom. He also has a lot of time on his hands if he's going to go around trying to catch everyone's typos . . . or maybe you're THAT special that he has to try to bring you and only you down; either way, I rest my case — jealous!!

  • Gaby

    it is much better to be noticed than not being notice at all. Someone told me that when I started to work for the company that has the real Aspirin:) . Dont worry about people like that Marian, the world out there is a battlefield , there will be always negative people around but take advantage of this and push yourself to go even further , where none of those losers will ever reach. Show them what you got.. you got a lot of potential kiddo… Good Luck with everything .. and it is always pleasant to read your blog…

    PS: If I would care about all the people that picked on me about my typos and my weird accent , I would have been burried long time ago.. Now I am just adding another stripe like a Zebra:-)

  • Hal Brown

    RT @marianschembari: Why are people mean?

  • Hal Brown

    Yes, you overreacted – I would have done the same thing. Sometimes you just have to deal with jerks, and head-on releases a lot of stress. I usually leave these up and try (very hard) to not respond.
    Bottom line, good for you!

  • Hal Brown

    Yes, you overreacted – I would have done the same thing. Sometimes you just have to deal with jerks, and head-on releases a lot of stress. I usually leave these up and try (very hard) to not respond.
    Bottom line, good for you!

  • John Sanders

    That was pretty funny. I have had that happen to me a few times. There was an expat in Russia who called me “long distance” and cursed me out because I told him I could not help him. He said that I write all this stuff but can't do anything. I was more entertained by it than offended. Down south we call people like that haters. You offered a good answer though… there is only so much you can do to a ghost.

    By the way, it's your blog… do with it as you wish :)

  • rek

    Your writing style IS incredibly sloppy though. Just saying…

  • Marian Schembari

    Alright, well answer me this: Why do you feel the need to comment and say that? Why be an asshole about it? What is it about the anonymity of the internet that prompts people like you to be jerks? Want to offer constructive criticism? Shoot me an email. Don't like my writing style? Don't read my blog. It's honestly as simple as that.

  • rek

    Why? Because that’s how I am in the real world. I blog the way I speak and speak the way I am. Meaning I talk to professionals the way I talk to friends and promise to never bullshit you. The people I work with know this. They know that if I don’t understand something I’ll ask, if I don’t like something I’ll speak up and if I don’t want to do something, well, I won’t.

    I attribute my blunt honesty and refusal to put on a suit as part of that coveted personal brand.

    I just wanna be like you when I grow up.

  • Marian Schembari


    Glad I could make an impression.

  • Katie

    Aaaahhaaaaahahaaa! Wow, stalker much?

  • Arun

    “haters to the left, lady. To the freaking left.”



    “There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.” Tom Krause

  • Arun

    “haters to the left, lady. To the freaking left.”



    “There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.” Tom Krause

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