How Adventure Athlete Caroline Gleich Fights Online Abuse
"When your bully spends the time to find your phone number and calls to harass you during Thanksgiving dinner, it’s hard to ignore."
Professional ski mountaineer and adventurer Caroline Gleich boasts a wealth of career highlights; she’s graced magazine covers, scored sponsorships from the likes of REI and Patagonia, and was the first woman to ski all 90 lines in “The Chuting Gallery,” a feat only completed by three other people in the world.
She also regularly deals with abusive and threatening comments from users online, according to Outside. They regularly insult her looks, her abilities, and even taunt her with the painful memory of a close friend of hers who died in an avalanche.
Three years ago today, the world lost a bright, shining soul when @liz_daley perished in an avalanche. It still feels hard to breathe when I think about it. Last night, while I was in Yosemite, we were talking about loss, about Dean Potter and the tourist who was killed in rockfall this week. One of the women I met asked me if Liz visits me in my dreams. She recommended I start talking to her more frequently. I was intrigued with the idea. Today, I listened to an episode of This American Life about a disconnected phone booth in a garden in Japan where people go to talk to their dead or missing family members in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami. It made me think about how difficult it’s been to deal with the grief of losing someone you love. Grieving is a complicated, messy process, and often, it’s a solitary one too. This year, perhaps I’ll try a different approach, pick up an imaginary phone, and make a call to let Liz know what’s going on, that we miss her, and we continue to celebrate her legacy with impromptu dance parties and smiles for miles. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to never wait to tell someone how you feel. Express gratitude, love and appreciation, and give big hugs generously. Life is uncertain. #livelikeliz
“A lot of people say that when you put yourself out there, you just need to deal with this kind of thing,” Gleich told Outside. “But even after deleting the posts and blocking the person, it still got into my psyche.”
Gleich has also had to deal with these online abusers making copy accounts, continuing to harass her and even moving from her Instagram feed to her real world. She received a voicemail from an anonymous man that calls her “cross-eyed” and a “silver-spooned spoiled bitch.”
After the voicemail, which you can listen to in the video above, Gleich decided she wasn’t going to take it anymore.
I’ve been quieter than usual on social media due to the presence of a persistent bully. These hateful comments leave a mark. I’m a strong person, but after awhile, harassment starts to take a toll. When your bully spends the time to find your phone number and calls to harass you during Thanksgiving dinner, it’s hard to ignore. I know my story is one of many and just the tip of the iceberg. It happens to so many people. I’m tired of being silenced by it and silent about it. I’m taking a stand against cyberbullying. This holiday season- I’m asking you- the @instagram community- to stand with me and fill your interactions online and in person, with love. It’s ok to respectfully disagree, but hate, harassment, and bullying is never ok. For anyone who’s ever been cyber bullied, I understand the pain and frustration. I’ve experienced it. It’s not right. Let’s take a stand together. Feel the love, spread the love. If you see a hateful comment, call that person out! Let’s go beyond deleting and blocking the trolls and support each other. If anyone ever needs someone to stick up for them against a bully online, message me. Together, we can build a community of love, tolerance, and respect. Photo: @louisarevalo
“When your bully spends the time to find your phone number and calls to harass you during Thanksgiving dinner, it’s hard to ignore,” Gleich said in an Instagram post last December. “I know my story is one of many and just the tip of the iceberg. It happens to so many people. I’m tired of being silenced by it and silent about it. I’m taking a stand against cyberbullying.”