When I was a kid, I understood the Internet to be one thing: the grating ticks and static of dial-up that unlocked the gate to Postopia.com (which, as I’ve come to find out this evening, has tragically been removed from the World Wide Web). The Internet was a place to play games and have fun. To be a kid, escape boredom.
But, like me, the Internet grew up. It got a little more worldwide. It learned how to talk and create and direct and store. It became a place to form an identity, a place to vocalize a billion thoughts you couldn’t otherwise. It turned into a definition of something, whether that something be humanity or your neighbor.
The Internet is now us, but not always the ‘us’ of a civilized world. Most often, unfortunately, it’s the savage ‘us.’ The ‘us’ that exists by emotional survival of fittest. The ‘us’ that doesn’t care about Postopia.com as much as it cares about getting a solitary point across, being as vicious as possible to claim public respect and accolades.
It’s a terrible, terrible ‘us’ sometimes.
People always ask me, “How do you deal with mean comments?” or “How can you be so calm and okay with some of the things people say to you on your blog?” I usually tell them, “I just have to. You have to expect it.”
Behind that, however, is a reality that I don’t admit very often: I’m never okay with some of “those things” people say to me. In fact, some of those things have hurt me more than I care to share. I write for even a sliver of good, but often, that sliver of good is wedged in a myriad of bad and angry and rude. As a blogger using the most massive bullying platform we hold in our hands today, discouragement is in high supply.
Sometimes, all I can do is hope that people will read behind the lines and see who I am in context instead of the Frankenstein’s monster version of me they’ve created with a few sentences or weak arguments they disagree with on my blog. I can imagine how they try to figure me out, lying me on a metaphorical lab table and attaching scraps of their assumptions to me:
Stupid. Little girl. Whiner. Apostate. Uncreative. Failure. Controversial. Religious moron. _
The reality is that I’m a 5’3″ girl who loves old movies, loves looking up at the stars, would love to just sleep in a hammock and watch Disney princess movies all summer, puts my whole soul into everything I write, and feels shame and discouragement _acutely. I have a face, I have a life, and yes, that post that you hated so much and told me you hated so much and judged me because of how much you hated it took me hour upon agonizing hour to express. If I didn’t have such a deep set recognition of my worth as a daughter of God, I might be tempted to do horrible things to myself based on what some people have said to me and about the things I’ve created.
The worst part is that they sometimes don’t even realize what they say.
The Internet is not a telephone. It is not a face to face conversation. You think you’re sounding monotone when you’re coming across infuriated. You think you’re sharing your thoughts politely when you sound like you’re screaming them. You think you’re being helpful when you sound like you’re condemning. It takes a whole lot of effort to make text sound Christlike, and it’s effort a lot of us don’t put in sometimes.
That can really hurt.
The dark side of blogging is that, even when you think you’re humanizing yourself, other people can quickly dehumanize you. And for as quick as our generation is to condemn bullying, some of us do it every single day online.
Bloggers are people, too. But you know that. We all do, even while choosing to ignore it.
Don’t worry. I’m okay. I’m always going to keep writing, and I’m doing just peachy. Sometimes I just wish we could go back to the days of Postopia.com. Back then, we cared far more about having fun than shaming and hurting each other.