‘Evil’ site GOMI trashed blogger Heather Armstrong in life, death

'Evil' site GOMI trashed blogger Heather Armstrong in life, death

Friends of Heather Armstrong, the pioneering “mommy blogger” who killed herself Tuesday, are quick to say that her suicide was a long time coming and was the direct result of mental health struggles.

The 47-year-old, known as “Dooce” online, was open about her years struggling with alcoholism and clinical depression so intense that she underwent drastic experiments on her brain to try to alleviate the suffering.

But as tough as her personal struggles were, Armstrong paradoxically seemed to have a charmed life that brought out a special brand of haters which haunted and hurt her for years, sources told The Post.

The majority of them populated the forums of GOMIblog.com — shorthand for Get off my Internets — a so-called “anti-fan” blog launched in 2008 by New York-based blogger Alice Wright, 48.

The site came up with the rise of mommy bloggers and gave haters a place to anonymously and viciously mock every aspect of these women’s lives. Today, there are forums dedicated to ripping apart social media influencers and royals as well as bloggers in the worlds of food, fashion, and even fundamentalist religions. 

“I had some bad experiences with them but they were so evil with [Armstrong],” Jill Smokler, creator of the well-known Scary Mommy.com blog, told The Post about the GOMI community. I got attacked for my parenting but they got really personal with Heather. It was complete bullying and so cruel.”

Blogger Heather Armstrong, who died May 9, 2023
Pioneering “mommy blogger” Heather Armstrong struggled with being targeted by hate sites like GOMI, friends told The Post.

The snark took its toll on Armstrong’s already precarious mental health, friends and fellow mommy bloggers told The Post.

“They were relentless with her,” Smokler added. “They knew she was fragile and depressed. It’s not easy to be bombarded with messages that you’re a terrible mother and shouldn’t be alive. It cuts to the core of who you are. I wonder how the people at GOMI feel now.”

Within minutes of reports of Armstrong’s death on Tuesday, GOMI commenters let loose.

Blogger Alice Wright.
Upper East Side blogger Alice Wright, 48, has run the GOMI “anti-fan” hate site since 2008. Commenters in the site’s forums trashed Armstrong for years.
Sipa USA via AP

“If this ends up being fake, it would be the sickest, most twisted scheme she could ever concoct,” wrote a poster under the name Stay in Your Lane.

Site administrator Wright, who goes by the handle Nycaw, didn’t hold back when it turned out Armstrong’s suicide was real.

“[Armstrong] was a bigger bully than I am, was, or ever will be, and hasn’t been relevant since she refused to accept online monetizing and celebrity was changing like 10 years ago,” Nycaw wrote. “But for some reason, people who hated her a month ago are acting like she’s some light-shining saint and was some major force in creator culture … But she’s dead so hush hush! we can’t say anything other than good things. GMAFB.”

Snippet of comments from GOMI
GOMI creator Alice Wright, who goes by the handle “nycaw,” and other commenters wasted no time in posting about Armstrong’s suicide.

A poster known as Pontica Tottos responded: “Good riddance … [Armstrong] wasn’t a nice person and the whole world finally saw that. She caused more harm than good to the people in her life and her suicide was just one more way of selfishly lashing out to those who loved her. Her memory will never be a blessing.”

Asked in 2016 about her motivation for running GOMI, Alice Wright said: “I can’t speak for all the GOMI-ers and I realize there are some people who are a bit in that category of ‘let’s take this person down,’ and ‘let’s take them down a peg, and show them’ — that’s not where I’m coming from at all. I’m just very much ‘Oh my gosh, did you see what they posted? How crazy is that?’ and then talk about it.”

She added: “It’s not fair game to go and ruin someone’s life or anything, but what someone chooses to put out themselves publicly, that is fair game to discuss and speculate on.”

Jill Smokler
Jill Smokler, creator of the “Scary Mommy” blog, said that the commenters on GOMI went after her but were especially “cruel” and “bullying” to Armstrong.
NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

A photo of Heather Armstrong and her dog.
“But for some reason, people who hated her a month ago are acting like she’s some light-shining saint and was some major force in creator culture,” Wright posted after the death of Armstrong (above). “GMAFB.”

Wright did not answer the door when The Post visited her Upper East Side apartment building Thursday, nor did she return other requests for comment.

But some think it’s time for Wright and other snark bloggers to take responsibility or at least re-consider the hatred.

“It legitimately put me on antidepressants,” Natalie Holbrook, who writes the blog HeyNatalieJean.com, told The Guardian about GOMI posters’ attack on her.

“You try to stay away from it, because the minute you read it, it’s in your brain forever – my flat forehead, my ugly nose, or that my husband hates me,” Holbrook said. “I thought once if I said, ‘You’re really hurting me,’ it would stop, but it just got worse.”

Mommy blogger Deborah Cruz.
Deborah Cruz, a blogger known as “Truthful Mommy” who writes at MotherhoodTheTruth.com said she’s been targeted by commenters at GOMI and other hate blogs — and that the negativity is tough to handle. She was friends with Armstrong.

Deborah Cruz, a blogger at MotherhoodTheTruth.com and a friend of Armstrong’s since 2009, told The Post she “does the same kind of vulnerable blogging as Heather” and has also been torn apart by hateful GOMI commenters and others.

“I’ve been told my children should die. But Heather got it really bad and she was more fragile than the rest of us,” Cruz said. “But she was more successful too. People are jealous. She had an empire she built on living her truth and, as it grew, some people were like, ‘Why should she have that?’”

Blond and beautiful Armstrong had two children, Leta, now 19, and Marlo, 13, with her ex-husband, Jon. She lived with her boyfriend, Pete Ashdown, a former two-time Democratic candidate for the US Senate, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A photo of GOMI creator Alice Wright.
GOMI creator Alice Wright is often pictured at parties and events in Manhattan on her Instagram account.

She made millions from her blog, which she launched in 2001, and wrote four books. Armstrong was credited with revolutionizing how women spoke about the realities of motherhood, and her star rose along with other early big-name female bloggers, like Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman, who were proto-influencers before the dawn of social media.

“Fans were really pissed,” Armstrong told Vox in 2019 about when she started putting ads on her nascent site in 2004. “It was empowering, though, because I realized I didn’t need some male executive in New York to tell me that my story’s important enough to publish because I can just do it myself.”

Armstrong’s writing was by turns witty and shocking, as she’d describe, say, how hard it was to go to the bathroom because her then-baby daughter would start screaming or laid bare the challenges of breastfeeding.

A photo of Heather Armstrong with her two children, Marlo and Leta
Armstrong at her home outside Salt Lake City, Utah, with children Marlo and Leta.

“Everything I’ve ever read about breastfeeding has obviously been written by a man with no tits, because everything says that as long as the baby is in the right position it shouldn’t hurt to breastfeed,” she wrote in a 2004 post titled A Heartbreaking Work of Super Pooping Genius.

“I am here to tell you that there is no possible way to have an 8-pound creature GUMMING your tender nipple without the slightest bit of discomfort. The only way to describe it to a man is to suggest that he lay out his naked penis on a chopping block, place a manual stapler on the sacred helmet head, and bang in a couple hundred staples.”

Armstrong also pulled no punches about her long battle with alcoholism and suicidal depression.

She had apparently relapsed at the time of her death, according to Ashdown.

Home page of GOMIblog.com
The so-called “anti-fan” site GOMI was launched in 2008 by Wright.

A friend of Armstrong’s who asked to be identified only by her first name, Elizabeth, spoke with Heather almost daily and said the haters had an impact on the blogger — although she tried to shake them off.

“The comments were very painful,” Elizabeth, a lawyer, and mother of three, told The Post. “And we are talking about someone who was so much more than a mommy blogger. She broke the ice in terms of realizing that you didn’t have to go through the initiation alone as hard as it may be. She spoke those truths. She saved my life. I wish I could say that she got past how painful some of those comments were but it was hard. It was like your worst lizard brain coming at you from the Internet.”

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