Shut Up and Die, Fatty.

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There were many things that my mentors prepared me for when it came to creating a successful business. The fact that I would lose most of my old friends, that my family would never get it, no matter how much money I made, and that the old cliché “it’s lonely at the top” can be pretty true if you don’t have someone to share the journey with.

But no one ever really prepared me for the level of vitriol I’d be opening myself to by popping my head up above the crowd.

The awesome thing about the internet is that it gives us the opportunity to contact practically every conceivable kind of person on the planet.

The horrible thing about the internet is that it gives us practically every conceivable kind of person on the planet the opportunity to contact us.

Now, I’m not exactly a shrinking violet – and I’m not overly delicate. You won’t find me draped over the bed, crying in anguish because someone was mean to me …

I grew up poor in a beachside suburb in Sydney. My family of 5 lived in a rented one bedroom fibro shack, with an outside toilet. I shared a bedroom with my two sisters and my parents converted the tiny dining room at the front of the house into their bedroom. My dad worked on a factory floor and my mother ran a small secondhand bookshop with my grandmother – it never really turned over any kind of profit (but I give the fact that my two strongest female role models ran a business, credit for my own entrepreneurial spirit).

Being poor in a beach-side suburb is the equivalent of walking around town with a “Please Beat The Crap Out Of Me” sign on your back. And they did. At the age of 8, despite the fact that I loved learning and loved going to school, I would throw up my breakfast in a desperate attempt to avoid having to go to a place where I knew I was going to get beaten up and teased.

Funnily enough, I think the beatings were the easier part to deal with. The psychological damage of being called fat and ugly while that was happening scarred me until I was well into my 20s.

But I grew up, I did a bunch of personal development, I dealt with it. And these days when people come on my threads and call me fat and ugly, it doesn’t really phase me. This typically happens several times a day – and the only conclusion I can draw is that those people are so threatened by someone who speaks their mind and does what she wants, that they have to lash out in some way.

But sometimes I’m shocked by the voracity of the attacks. I’ve had people threaten to kill me, to rape me, people who’ve sent me emails comprised of nothing more than my home address (or my parents address), people who’ve threatened to hurt my dogs.

And all because people don’t like some post I made on Facebook. Which I would call a slight over-reaction. Use the block button, for the love of God.

At this year’s Traffic and Conversion Summit, I was really interested to hear Ryan Diess say that if he was starting from scratch, he’d probably set up his business under an assumed last name, mainly to protect his kids.

Now, I’m happily childless (strangely, that’s often the source of the attacks I get) – but I feel that.  There are some REALLY angry psycho’s out there!

I haven’t, perhaps, always handled these attacks in the best way. I do have a tendency to engage – that, I think, is a reaction against years of passivity and being a victim, of listening to my well-intention parents when they told me not to give bullies the satisfaction of a reaction (that never worked, by the way – the thing about bullies is that they’ll keep going until they get a reaction … they’ll ramp up, say worse things, hit you harder – because they thrive on the power).

Funnily enough, within the hour it’s taken me to write this article, I’ve seen four different, major players in the marketplace write Facebook posts echoing this sentiment … so perhaps it really IS getting worse!

So I’d be interested in knowing – how do YOU deal with the haters? The flamers? The crazies? What’s your strategy for dealing with them – do you just delete and block? Do you take joy in batting the bunny around a bit? Or does it sometimes get at you??

About Leela Cosgrove

Leela Cosgrove (AKA the Marketing Brat), is the founder of Strategic Anarchy and Australia’s top Identity Marketing Consultant. Tattooed roller derby queen, punk rocker and Internet Marketing Geek, she swears she’s not nearly as scary as she looks.
View all posts by Leela Cosgrove ➞


  • Bob's mum's mum says:

    No shit. Not only that, it’s meta advertising. Advertising that I’m sick of invading my Facebook wall. Oh and cheers for stating the obvious. You should try it some time, it’s good for you.

  • Bob's mum says:

    It’s called Advertising, ‘Bob Smith’, you wanker.

  • bob smith says:

    Waa waa cry me a river. If you Force your crap onto people’s Facebook wall you deserve everything you get

  • Leela says:

    I love these comments so much! I think it really helps when you realise – it’s not just you … if you’re doing something, there will be someone taking pot-shots.

    And you thought this shit would finish after high school … :/

  • Michael Phipps says:

    I’ve never been good with comebacks, so I would sit silently stewing over what had been said, and spend hours working out what I could have said to put the bullies in their place. Eventually I figured I was just letting them live rent free in my head, so now I just kick em out. Block, delete… Ahhh!

  • amanda dear says:

    People are far more threatened by success. strangers find it easy to be jealous and generally twatty as they don’t know you so to them you don’t count as some whose feelings. Those that know us and bring us down are the tricky ones in my experience – I just didn’t see it coming (said the just divorced lady)
    This is a really powerful blog that shows that this type of thing doesn’t just happen to teenagers. I have had a few incidents and I ignore and block but next time I will blog about it!

  • Leela says:

    You’re awesome Rick.

    I believe fighting back is the only way to maintain your sanity. Being passive, allowing yourself to be a victim – that stuff is the guaranteed way to doing your own head in.

    Jamus – I agree completely.

  • Marty says:

    I just feel bad for the lazy a**holes who hate on everything. I just remember to think what a miserable life they lead, to have so much animosity for something or someone they know nothing about. I can’t Imagine what it’s like to have that much anger inside of me. They’re all ridonkulous.

  • Jamus says:

    “To escape criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing”

    If you aren’t upsetting some people than your not emotionally connecting with others to move them forward.

    It is part of the course that people will attack what they fear or don’t understand, it’s one of the human races biggest weaknesses.

    Don’t waste time, energy or love of life on any “hater”. You can be helping someone who wants / needs it instead.



  • Kat Mikic says:

    i haven’t started attracting crazies yet, unless you put psychics, astro chicks and the alternates in to that basket (which i don’t) -i’m guessing though, if history is anything to go by… once I begin to say no and really start throwing myself back in to on-line … it will come… sad but true.

    my motto to life is “what others think of me is their problem” – i truly no longer care (much) sometimes it shits me…. i do a silent unfriend and block…. what a different world we live in today…. with the WWW bullying goes far beyond the playground, however with the way some adults behave u would expect them to still be at school.

  • Catherine says:

    Great article Leela. Keep on singing your song out loud. Delete & Block – no engagment…I’ve got better things to do and better people to engage with than those who will attack or attempt to bring me down. Next! :)

  • Phillipa Kiriaptea says:

    Leela you are awesome. I’m so inspired at how far you’ve come.
    As you know, I was bullied too so it really inspires me that you can go from what you’ve been through, to the super strong woman you are now.
    I just got my first crazy on Facebook today and I dealt with her pretty awesomely I reckon.
    I don’t like to back down, I fight for my cause and what I believe in.
    But now, learning from you, I do it without that feeling of ” Should I have said that?”

  • Chrissy says:

    You know what Leela, as a bootstrapping, hardworking mum, doing EVERYTHING I currently know to build a business that I will be proud of, I take great comfort in reading what you have written. By doing what you have done, you have exposed those ‘crazies’ for exactly what they are! Action-less, Spine-less ‘talkers’ who will NEVER contribute anything worthwhile to society. I’m PROUD to have you as my mentor. I’ve read MANY of the ridiculous taunts thrown your way because I follow everything you do as closely as possible and never once have I thought you over reacted or responded inappropriately! It is natural and normal to defend what you believe in and the fact that so many others also jump in to defend you is further proof that you HAVE to keep on keeping on. Your success is testament to your determination and passion and I can only dream to one day have a skerrick of the success and the haters you have to deal with. I take my hat off to you!!

    Seriously, the sh!t that comes up on yours and Thor?’s stuff just reminds me WHY I’m working so bloody hard. The rejection means I’m doing something right! The unkind words (not public for me yet) mean I must keep going!! I <3 that you guys have changed the common definitions of 'failure' to 'success'!!! YOU BOTH prove that doing the exact opposite is exactly the right thing to do!

  • Rick Benn says:

    I had this same problem until seventh grade.

    A bully on the school bus seat behind me kept smacking me in the back of the head. The bus was still in the school lot loading kids for the ride home. After enduring several whacks to the back of my head, I finally had enough, I turned around, and in a stern look, told him, “once more and you’ll regret it.” He laughed and did it again. With my pen in hand, I took a whack at his face. My pen opened up a deep gash from the bottom of his eye to the top of his lip. He went running off the bus into the principal’s office bleeding profusely, claiming I was nuts. The bus left.

    I was called in to the principal’s office the next day, along with the bully and the bus driver. Since I was in the first row, the driver witnessed everything and testified on my behalf. Having continually provoked me, it was deemed my reaction was justified, seemingly because the pen in my hand was an oversight in my reaction. The word spread around that I would fight back hard, and no one ever dared bother me again. Of course, that was in the seventies before lawsuits were rampant. I don’t have problems like that today.