So here’s something I really don’t understand about the internet: When did it become so socially acceptable to be a complete assface online while pretending to be a human in real life?
One of the (many) things that made me hesitant to start a blog is the sheer volume of venom that spews through the giant invisible wires of the World Wide Web. (It’s powered by giant invisible wires, right?)
I mean, by now we’ve all learned that people who lurk in the comments section of literally anything on the internet are a collection of evildoers so foul that even their mothers don’t love them, but that doesn’t prevent their ignorant/racist/sexist/ageist/hateful/prejudiced/cowardly/petty/dumbass opinions from being hurtful. Before I started this blog, I read many other blogs, and often I would read the vitriol in the comments section and think, “Seriously, I just can’t do it.”
Here’s why: I know that I am not thick-skinned. In fact, I am quite thin-skinned, like a delicate, sweet-smelling tomato. And I have no doubt that the moment someone writes something on my blog like, “Omg you suck you should go die,” I will, in fact, go die. My supple tomato-skin will be unable to protect me.
If you think I’m overreacting, go open literally anything written by anyone on the internet. Read the article, smile or frown or laugh or think along with the words and facts and opinions put forth there, and then scroll on down past the ads for hemorrhoid cream and take a gander at the comments section.
Let’s say you have a blog about fashion. It’s gotten kind of popular, and it’s been featured on some other fashiony website, and your life is pretty great. And let’s say one day you write a little post about the various ways to tie scarves. And you’re feeling pretty good about yourself because you’ve come up with scarf-knots suitable for every occasion, from work to day-drinking to the walk of shame. When it comes to tying scarves, you are professor and chair.
Now, for a day or two, your comment section will consist of a handful of regulars applauding your efforts and thanking you for your scarf-tying proficiency. You will pat yourself on the back and bask in your own scarf-knotting glory.
And then, as suddenly as a refreshing drink of water that goes down the wrong pipe and momentarily convinces you that you’re drowning, a strange thing will happen. (This is assuming that your blog, unlike mine, is read by more than six people.)
Someone, somewhere, will write some form of the following:
Evildoer 1: “so i love ur blog but this is a miss! that scarf looks sso gross lol”
Okay, well, that’s alright. You’re a brilliant writer and fashionista and obviously not everyone is going to share your style and anyway a lot of people like it and also she wrote “lol” so it’s totally just friendly criticism! You’re super secure, lol.
Inevitably, someone who likes you will follow that first comment with:
Friendly Participant: “That’s so mean! This blog is amazing and your scarves all look AWESOME – don’t worry about the haters!”
And this will feel good. This will act as a salve healing the burn of the first comment, and the sting will disappear. And you’ll think to yourself, “I have many supporters and I am well loved.”
However, just as you’re congratulating yourself on reacting so maturely to adversity, something unexpected will happen. That supportive comment will, confusingly, rile up Evildoer 1 and a million of her internet-lurking friends.
Evildoer 1: “wow lol its not mean its a opinion! ew ur like in luv with scarfs ur like the scarf police lol”
Evildoer 2: “LOL sCaRF pOLicE tHatS sO tRUe!!”
Evildoer 3: “Seriously, this blog used to be a place where different people could share their opinions openly, but now people get shut down just for not agreeing with your scarf-tying? Way to alienate your fans. You’ve definitely lost a reader.”
Evildoer 4: “yeh u suck so bad now, also ur ugly ttyl bye”
Evildoer 5: “STOP PUSHING YOUR POLITICAL AGENDA DOWN OUR THROATS!!! I SERIOUSLY DONT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SCARVES BUT CANT YOU JUST TIE THEM IN THE PRIVACY OF YOUR OWN HOME AND LEAVE THE REST OF US OUT OF IT!!! MY KIDS COULD SEE THIS!!!”
Evildoer 6: “No one cares about your scarves. You should kill yourself.”
Evildoer 7: “This post is the most elitist garbage I’ve ever seen. Some people don’t even have scarves. Think about that while you’re walking around with all your scarves. Our society’s obsession with consumerism makes me sick to my stomach.”
Evildoer 8: “that blue scarf make u look like a slut”
Evildoer 9: “Hi! I’ve never commented but I’m a longtime reader, and I just felt really compelled to speak up about this – aren’t you a mother? It just seems to me that your time would really be better spent building an environmentally friendly whole fruit and herb garden with your kids rather than worrying about trivial things like fashion. I’m not saying you’re a bad mom and I’m totally not judging you, I promise! I just feel really bad for your children.”
Evildoer 10: “Yeah what is this teaching your daughter, like oh you have to wear scarves so men will like you, seriously why dont you just buy her a stripper pole”
Evildoer 11: “u just wear scarves cuzz u have a fat neck, u need to werkout! im soso sick of lazy peeple, its called BEING HEALTHHY”
Evildoer 12: “fake”
Evildoer 13: “Those scarves are really fucking racist.”
You probably won’t even get to Evildoer 13, though, because by that point you’re too busy crafting a noose out of the scarves you once loved.
Basically, the moral of the story is this: If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it on the internet. And if you would say it to someone’s face, there’s a pretty strong possibility that you’re just a terrible person.
But I’m totally not judging you. I promise.