I used to be terrified about what other people thought. I kept my opinions to myself and tried my best to remain neutral on topics, even when I had a strong opinion, because I feared people would judge me. To me, the worst thing in the world would be someone thinking I’m stupid.
I know this may be a silly fear, but it’s true. I couldn’t even tweet about a controversial topic because the last thing I would want would be some anonymous egg telling me how stupid I am. Worst of all, I couldn’t even admit this fear. If anyone asked I would’ve lied and said the usual “you can’t worry about others” or “just be sure of yourself” spiel.
I remember once I received an anonymous email on my website from “a concerned friend” telling me they were worried about me because my writing is failing and a bunch of other bs I don’t fully remember anymore. But the whole email was composed to make me feel bad, and it worked.
Anyway, I’m writing this piece, because the truth of the matter is, not only can I admit I used to be afraid of online harassment, but I no longer am (or at least am getting better at it).
How? Simple, I started writing more online and publishing it publicly. I have several pieces with Buffalo Rising and The Public in Buffalo and the comment section (particularly in Buffalo Rising) can be brutal if you get political. At first these comments devastated me. I couldn’t handle the names I was being called, but I kept writing and kept publishing.
Soon I was able to brush the comments off. Then I started dealing with trolls on twitter. The more I did so, the less their words bothered me, until I was able to just laugh them off.
So if anyone out there is dealing with the same struggle, my advice to you is start putting yourself out there and taking the lumps. Soon you’ll be able to laugh it off too. I gotta say, the internet is a lot more fun when you truly don’t care what a bunch of anonymous jackasses think.