Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Are We Taking Modern-Day Criticism Too Far?

I always know that an article that I have written is doing well and being widely shared when I open up my messages to find cruel remarks inside. It is simply a fact of writing on our modern-day internet. The internet is full of trolls that thrill in sitting in anonymity behind the glow of their computer screen and writing cruel things to others. 
The past few months have been a time when I chose to dig deep, push past societal stigmas and come forward with really painful things in my life. It has not been easy for me, even though I feel that if I helped even a single person that it was worth it. 
When my article about being a suicide attempt survivor went live, I received messages saying that they wish I "would've been successful" at killing myself, that I was a "loser and an embarrassment to their country" and that I will be going to hell. This was my first article to go "viral" and was my first experience with how ugly people can be. I sat vigil through the night that first night, reading the messages and weeping. Very few times in my life have I felt as alone as I did that night. 
When my article about being a rape survivor went live, I received messages stating that I am "so ugly that I should be grateful that I was raped", that I should've "relaxed and enjoyed it" and a few pornographic pictures mixed in(Hey, boys- unsolicited dick pics are never cool, Man. Keep your pants on.) I was not prepared both for the vulnerability that I felt in the days after that piece first hit the internet(and still feel to some degree today), for the few friends that turned away from me and made me feel shame and for the onslaught of feedback, mostly wonderful but with some powerfully hateful things missed in. I became physically ill and I truly believe that my body could not handle the immediate and overwhelming emotions that I was not in any way ready for. I went to bed for days and when I finally was able to emerge from my self-imposed isolation, I can tell you that I was not the same person than I was when I went into my cocoon- in ways both wonderful and awful.
Yesterday, when an article that I wrote to bring awareness to CMV(a virus) went live I received messages stating that I'm a "fear mongering bitch" and again that I'm going to hell( what is it with internet trolls and hell?). This time, I was rather shocked by the hate even after growing a thicker skin through these past months. I was simply trying to help others to not suffer in the way that my friend and her family has. I still can't wrap my mind around why someone can find fault with that. 

My core belief since childhood has been that I am not worthy, a belief that many of us struggle with. These comments play on that fear, strumming the tight strings of my misery and giving evidence to that belief that I've tried to hard in my life to eradicate. It always amazes me how we seek and gather evidence to support any of our beliefs, even the ones that we wish we didn't have. It is so painful. 
I can receive dozens of lovely messages(thank you to those that have sent them!) but it is those awful comments that pluck at my heart and leave me feeling stuck. I find myself on a roller coaster of emotion as I swing from the highs of having a successful article and the lows of reading through the name-calling, criticism, and general ickiness of cruel messages and e-mails. 
Years ago, these comments would have made me take a break from writing--out of fear, out of that place of unworthiness, out of pure shame. I would have believed each and every unkind word, too mired in shame to refuse to acknowledge the cruelty. 
However, today-- even after shedding a few tears-- I am celebrating my response to these comments as a win. Why? Because instead of choosing not to write, I'm going write more and write harder in spite of the naysayers and in honor of myself. In the words and advice of the great Cheryl Strayed, today I'm gonna "write like a motherfucker." 
Write on criticizers of my work-- I will use your hate to fuel my flame. I am truly sorry for whatever circumstances of your life have led you to such a low place that this is the way that you choose to spend your days. I refuse to concede to your assholery. You may think of me as your nemesis--wherever you choose to bring darkness, I will bring the light threefold. The war has begun. The light will win. 


  1. I'll never understand trolling. Though, I don't think anyone but trolls understand trolling. I was bullied...allot...growing up. Hell, who am I kidding, half my family is German, I'm bullied on a daily basis. I was that poor dork in school you see in TV who was locked into dark places (because that's hilarious), thrown to the ground with my shoe ripped off and thrown across the gym, and consistent needlessly mean comments tossed at me in the halls at random. It was hard, but they made me strong, now I thank them for preparing me.

    In adulthood I've had a few bullies confront me about it not the other way around. Guilt is a funny thing. Some say they didn't even realize they were a bully, that they just thought it was funny. Other's have explained that they didn't understand how I just didn't seem to be phased, that they just kept pushing it further because they wanted to break me and my positivity. I of course kept my pain within, until I didn't even feel it anymore, because my skin became so thick.

    You are so brave. I have a personal blog I've been thinking of taking down. No troll problems, just uncomfortable having my personal life and stories out there. It's mostly been utilized by the wives of ex husbands and boyfriends to make sure I'm not still pining for their lovers anymore, or new friends who want the up-hand advantage of figuring out who I am and what I believe before I can get to know them. It's strange.

    Your blog post makes me proud, and reminds me that none of us are alone. We are a community, and we are here to uplift and support one another. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. In this case the pen (or laptop) is always mightier than the sword....err I mean words!

  3. You are worhty!! Gimmee those trolls email addresses I am incensed!

  4. Sometimes we force others to face their own truths and insecurities, their personal ignorance to their own faults or hidden worries, fears, and judgements when we write our truths. Instead of dealing with these things, they lash out, hiding behind unwarranted vitriol because they are incapable or unwilling to scratch the surface of their own consciousness. It's cowardly and vile and I pity them in some ways. Their words, insults, and hatefulness are a reflection of who they are. Insecure bullies, some of whom may only be hiding behind some pain our words dredged up. Others are just asshats who like to stir up trouble and cause drama. Words hurt, they also heal, and like you said, if even ONE person was impacted in a positive way by yours, it was worth writing. It was worth putting yourself out there and that is something so very, very worthy and brace and admirable.

  5. The internet has produced the nastier side of people who can hide behind social media and say things they wouldn't have to courage to say to your face.