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That’s my photo.

This post was written one year ago. Linked up to #LetsDiscuss2019 by FYFA.

At the time of writing this, I’ve never felt so sick in my life unless you count the allergic reaction to penicillium in blue cheese dressing, and the time I saw something suspicious on my credit report and thought my mom stole my identity based on her previous actions. Not necessarily combined, those similes. Whatever.

Black-and-white close-up selfie of face; eyes closed

I’ve barely slept. My left hand aches so much from babysitting yesterday. I shouldn’t have picked Solara up so much like I did, but whatever. It’s done. I slept for five hours earlier, which was nice because prior I only slept two hours before I needed to get up in the morning, max.

This is Jane on someone-stole-my-content. This is the reality.

When a blogger stole my blog design’s code, I was flat-out mad. This time was more personal, but I also think I’ve matured a bit in a way that I can write like this, though it’s worth mentioning I can barely form coherent thoughts right now. I have cold water and just ate two slices of leftover pepperoni pizza; food sometimes helps my stomach, and I only ate one meal yesterday, no snacks. It’s barely midnight, so technically that’s two meals. Eating disorders are hard to recover from, if recovery even exists.

So? Right now, my focus is still on not throwing up. I’m so shaky I can’t even. How do I cope? I don’t know. I want to cry, but the urge to vomit is higher.

Maybe a shower will help. I need one, anyway.

It didn’t.

I’m mad. I’m so angry that I’m sick. I’m furious to the point that I want to drive into the ground the name of the person who condescended me with her flawed argument regarding using images found on Google.

I want war.

But I don’t want to fight. I just want an apology. I want to be sincerely told, “I’m sorry for my mistake; I will work to become a better blogger from this,” and the person work to become just that. It’s not for me—it’s for her and everyone else in the blogosphere.

Bloggers have worked too hard to get to where they are now—respected as ourselves and influence, rather than berated like we’re second-class citizens full of too much self-importance. Our opinions matter. Our readers listen to us and trust us because we adhere to standards and don’t tolerate the dated marketing BS. We don’t just slap some ads on our sites—we create stories and share our experiences. We have the power to change the world. Many of us already change our readers’ lives.

When someone threatens this progress, it sets us backwards. We stumble and fall and struggle to get up. These kinds of actions break us and make us not trust each other.

The practices are dirty.

The photos on search engines are not a free-for-all. Even Google tries to warn you. The general, common sense guideline/rule is to assume all images are copyrighted until proven otherwise. In the US, you don’t have to register copyright for your work for it to be legally protected; it’s just that it fucking helps. However, if this is the reason someone decides they’ve the right of way to use your work because of that, they’re an asshole. There is no way around it. What’s more, there is this thing called Intellectual Property (IP). Plus, since photos have the ability to personally identify a person, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) clause in a website’s host’s Terms allows me to request it to be removed on the behalf of the people in the photo (since I took it and my family doesn’t know how to do any of that) because it’s personal data, in the event a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take down notice did not succeed. Maybe I could’ve done both.

I’ve never been so freaking thankful for the GDPR in my life, but wow. Turns out it’s useful after all.

I took too many journalism classes to tolerate this BS.

Another issue with the situation is that this post was for an event at which Charlise and I are prominent bloggers, and thus to use the photo I took could mislead someone to thinking either of us are associated with this blog entity in question. It felt a bit like my identity was stolen, even though I wasn’t in the photo. They didn’t take the photo, they didn’t fucking credit me, and they made no comment about it. Yet, anyone who has attended this event and actually talks to us recognizes us. Perhaps if it were other people in the photo—general attendees of the event—it wouldn’t be an issue. But because we also attend the event as press, it was one of those messy situations just waiting to happen.

If you freaking ask me first, then I might say yes. The worst I can say is no, and if you still do it after that, you’re still an asshole—but at least you freaking asked me.

I mean, if they’d asked me directly instead of blatantly taking an image off a search engine results page—which is what it is: a results page, not a content distributor—and explained to me the situation, I would have kindly offered more generic photos of the event instead (provided they credit me), so a) they’d have a couple photos to use for the post and b) they were not using a personal family photo.

One of the bloggers of the site messaged me, proclaiming herself as a web developer and ‘splaining to me like I was new to this shit, and if you’ve been following my blog awhile, you know I’m freaking not. I got this “once you post it online, it’s fair game” BS that took a whole paragraph to explain and was all wrong. If that was how it worked, I wouldn’t have had to watch so many bloggers get sued, thank you very much.

She also called it drama.

This isn’t “drama”; it’s repercussions.

I’ve no tolerance for people who continue to justify their actions with ignorance, and this is my reputation. It’s who I am, and it’s my brand.

It’s my responsibility as an ethical blogger.

Guys, we have to do better. Maybe we have to share our stories. Maybe we just have to keep making noise about this. Either way, we have to do better. Stop sugarcoating everything and start being salty; stop tolerating BS. Stop holding back just because you’re scared. As bloggers, we need to band together and stop trying to avoid insulting anyone. We need to stop being afraid of calling people out on their BS and it turning into “drama” like it’s child’s play.

It’s not. It’s your work. It’s you.

And it’s the blogging community as a whole.

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