It’s Just Not True. When the Internet Comments Cause Harm.

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I listen to everyone who tells me what to do when I am being personally attacked, and I want to say, thank you. I know it’s coming from your hearts.

However, most of those with the best intentions, I’m guessing, have never actually been attacked on the internet or threatened at their homes. Their children haven’t been dragged into it, and their integrity hasn’t been called into question. They haven’t been called unyogic, or told they should die. They haven’t been told that their work sucks, or that they are terrible mothers. They haven’t been accused of physically attacking people, or hating old people, young people, black people and Lululemon people.

Really, this stuff just isn’t true about me.

I even had a stalker who called the places where I work and threatened my family. I notified the police, who in turn confiscated her electronics. That was the good news. The bad news is she’s bought another computer and is back on the internet. Her problem is that she thinks I am not funny, which is ridiculous. I am very funny.

I can’t be sure, of course, but I’m guessing this hasn’t happened to most of you.

Is this really our yoga community? I, for one, love gentle yoga. I take a Yin class regularly, and in my home studio I often lie on the floor and sob. I think that counts.

But the yoga I’m experiencing lately has been anything but gentle. My words are taken out of context and used to further the egos and careers of other writers and yogis. I do know that nasty comments are more about that person, than me, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or cause harm. To date, I have lost teaching opportunities, a cover story on a magazine, a column in the world’s biggest yoga magazine and more due to the outrageous crap written about me.

For example, even though I am 52, teach an older person’s yoga class, and mentor teachers of all ages on how to teach older students safely and with respect, I am now accused of being “an enemy of aging.”

Um, I wouldn’t be an enemy of aging because the alternative is dying.

The people who write these things and the publishers who support them say that these comments and writings are “opinions,” and therefore protected by the law. But I want to point out that the line between opinion and defamation is thin.

The advice I get is to get a thicker skin and do not fight back because it is unyogic. Here is what I should ignore, taken from the actual verbatim comments on my blogs:

  • You are a terrible mother and I feel sorry for your children.
  • You call yourself a yogi? You should die.
  • You don’t want to teach old people? What’s next? Black people?
  • How could you hurt that poor, defenseless ballerina (who doesn’t exist, by the way)?
  • You are a racist and hate all people of color.
  • I know where you live, and where you work, and I am coming to get you.
  • Why do you want to ruin yoga? The Elephant Journal needs to fire you.

That last one was from one of the most vehemently hated columns called, “What to Wear to a Yoga Conference.” Apparently, yogis have very strong opinions about their yoga pants.

I ignore 98% of what is written. Sometimes I call the police because writers are people and have rights too. And sometimes I try to set the record straight, but the truth travels slowly compared to a lie.

So here is what I won’t do: I won’t write those “I Heart Everyone” blogs and “Yoga is Love” just to get the sympathetic comments. This is what I know for sure:

It is easier to be authentic, than popular,

Because I can look at myself in the morning and like what I see.

My rant is finished. I’m going to get a vodka martini, shaken not stirred, and read the comments.

 Originally published August 2013

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga, and Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. She is a Columnist for Elephant Journal and a Contributing Editor for Mantra and Origin Magazines. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches Hatha Yoga in Denver, Co. You can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com or www.YogaSteya.com.

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