Over the past few months I’ve had several of my articles published on a popular website. Seeing my name and my work on a website I visited daily felt great, but seeing how many people were reading, sharing, and commenting on it felt amazing. My most recent article published on the site was also featured on their Facebook page and had almost 2,000 comments when I saw it online for the first time. I was ecstatic to see so many comments about something that I wrote until I came across one comment in particular. This person ripped my work (and me) apart, and basically said I was “whiney” and needed “to toughen up”. My instant reaction was to type “GO **** YOURSELF” as a response to their comment, but that wouldn’t be professional now would it. So I tried to ignore it and read through the other comments, which were amazing. People were sharing it and actually thanked me for writing it because they found it so helpful. There were a few other negative comments, like someone told me I needed to travel more, but the overall reaction to my article was overwhelmingly positive. Even though it felt so good to see this kind of response, I couldn’t help but feel the sting of that one unnecessarily mean (and poorly written) comment.
One of the reasons I publish work that is very personal to me is because I want it to help other people. I love writing things that are entertaining and make people laugh (like “If You Do This I Hate You”…I actually laughed aloud while writing that one), but I get a different satisfaction from writing about a struggle or other life lesson I think other people will relate to. So when I share this work and someone says I need to “toughen up” it makes me want to find them and punch them in the face. When I read that all I could think about was yelling “I wrote this for YOU. I wrote this to HELP people. This is not some stupid article about the Kardashian family or some stupid YouTube video. This is REAL. HOW DARE YOU!” But I couldn’t let that comment get to me (after my outburst) because as a writer I open myself up to this kind of ridicule, especially when my work is published online.
It’s amazing how brave people are behind the screen of their laptops/smartphone/whatever. People seem to have no problem (and even enjoy) writing the meanest and sickest verbal torment online…but why? Why do people need to be such a**holes online? Do they think that because someone is reading this hatred and not hearing it that it doesn’t hurt? One of the other thoughts I had after I read the comment of my work was “how much time do you have that you can go around insulting people’s work?” If they had left a constructive comment or pointed out a grammar faux pas that would have been different…but no, I’m “whiney”. I’ve read a lot of really terrible pieces of ‘writing’ thanks to social media. I’ve left comments that an idea should be further elaborated or the writing style needs to be tightened up, but I’ve never written that the writer was a moron and should give up now (I’ve actually read comments like that). That’s an inside thought, it’s not helpful and it’s unnecessarily cruel.
For whatever reason, people think it’s ok to spew their inner demons online for all to see no matter whom it hurts. Whenever you feel threatened by something, it’s usually because it’s hitting a nerve you’re not aware of. Perhaps my article hit a little close to home for that jerk. Whatever the case, I didn’t respond to that comment. I realize there are a lot of online bullies out there so the best thing to do is ignore them, and hope that their computer gets a virus or they drop their smartphone in a toilet.