Almost 2 weeks ago, this post (which is an abbreviated version of this post) was promoted on the Huffington Post’s Facebook page. It was a blogging dream-come-true for me. For most bloggers, this is the main goal of being a HuffPost Contributor – to 1.) get promoted to one of the main pages and shared on social media in order to ultimately drive traffic to your own site and 2.) to be able to say you did it. I’ve had a couple posts shared on social media by Scary Mommy in the past (also a blogging goal of mine) and they were mostly well received with just a few trolls here and there. You can’t please everyone, after all. However, this post seemed to spark outrage in the 100+ FB commenters. I tried to tell myself to stop reading the comments throughout the day but I just couldn’t. I felt such a vast range of emotions throughout the day (mad, sad, and embarrassed, to name a few) and it really had an effect on me that I wasn’t expecting. I learned a lot about blogging and putting myself out there through this experience and I want to share some of that with you.
Make sure your message and tone is clear. My message got lost somewhere. Somehow, what some readers took away from my article was that I am mad, obsessed with my daughter’s looks, that I only want people to say she’s pretty, and that I am “freaking out” over something I should be thankful for. None of those things reflect my reality at all. I really just wanted people to see my daughter and not just her glasses.
Tell the whole story. I think one of the issues was that the version I posted on HP wasn’t the full version. It didn’t give context to the vast range of emotions that come with Sweet E’s glasses. I had lots of people comment that I should be grateful that she doesn’t/didn’t have anything wrong with her. I am, of course. Her story could have turned out way different than it did and I am so thankful it didn’t. Perhaps if I had told the whole story and provided more context my message would have been more clear. But maybe not.
People are mean and very bold behind the protection of a computer screen. I’m pretty sure no one would have called me a “whiny bitch” to my face like they did on FB. Yes, that actually happened. Nor would they have told me that they feel sorry for my daughter because I am her mother (yes, that happened, too) or that I should seek counseling because I clearly have issues (yep, that too). I wanted so badly to respond to those people and tell them that they were wrong, that they misread my post, and that they had it all confused. I wanted to defend myself and tell them I’m a good mother, but I didn’t. I reminded myself throughout the day that just a couple days prior, internet trolls were fat-shaming a 99 lb. Olympic gymnast from Mexico and this is nothing compared to that. An Olympic gymnast, for goodness sake! But I digress…
My skin is thicker than I thought. I’ve always had thick skin but this was like putting my feet to the fire… and I lived to tell about it. And you know what? I might be a little more gun-shy next time I post to Huff Post, but I definitely will again. I share my experiences and my truth. Not everyone will like it or agree, and that’s okay. The nasties out there don’t know me; they read a few hundred words that told a fraction of a story and casted judgment solely on that. Maybe I deserved it. Maybe I didn’t. But I know in my heart of hearts that their judgments are not accurate.
Haters are Gonna Hate. But there are lovers out there, too. Huge thanks to those who commented nice things or said that they have experienced similar things in their own journeys and lives; those poor, sweet people got clobbered once they commented. And an even bigger thanks to those that sought me out and sent me private messages showing their support. That means the world to me. I’m also grateful for the ones who were respectful even though they disagreed with my thoughts and feelings (I’m down for a respectful conversation all day every day) and for those who came to my site to learn more before jumping to conclusions.
Focus on the Good. There were roughly 130 or so comments that were angry, vicious, and just downright mean. But, there were over 1.8k “likes” on the article itself and a couple hundred “likes” and “loves” on the FB status. So, math says that there were significantly more supporters than opposers; it’s just that the opposers had a much louder voice and probably always will. I had to remind myself of this to keep me from pulling the posting down all-together. I almost did (because I thought it must’ve been so poorly written in order to be so misread and elicit such a negative response) but changed my mind, thankfully.
My husband often says that he admires me for being able to put myself out there the way that I do; that he couldn’t do it. But until this experience, it was easy for me, honestly. This whole thing taught me to be more empathetic to those who are constantly in the limelight (not that this was the “limelight” by any stretch) in that we only see a small fraction of their lives and are so quick to judge. I think from now on, I am going to focus more on giving the benefit of the doubt and learning more before formulating an opinion.
And, I’m going to keep on writing because in the words of my girl Teresa Giudice, haters gonna hate but I’m gonna love love love.
Have you ever been trolled on social media? Tell me about it!