I just read an article over on Medium called The Cult of Cruel. It put me in mind of some of the things people who hate my writing have told me over the years.
Among those who are presumably (as they self identify in comments/messages) White men the complaints are always somewhat the same (most of these are essentially verbatim):
- I’m a big racist cunt.
- I’m a fat bitch.
- My writing is technically unsound.
- My writing is too “loud”
- All I know how to write about is being Black.
Other folks who hate my work and have hated it from when I fatty blogged to everything else. Some tidbits from their feedback:
- I give terrible advice.
- My writing style sucks.
- I use a language I don’t understand.
- Sometimes I code switch a lot.
- I’m boring.
- Shannon just sucks.
Once upon a time I took a lot of this to heart. When I was blogging there was a period of time where I tried really hard to sound more professional. I tried not code switching, I tried to cite only scientific studies and shit. For a while I thought that I had to change these things because critique in whatever form is always valid.
Here’s what I learned and what helped set me free as an author.
In my regular walking around life a lot of people don’t like me. Some because I have a piece of metal in my face, because sometimes I laugh really loud- lots of reasons. For a long time I’ve just accepted that as a thing. My philosophy in my walking around life is as follows:
If I’m not the kind of fat bitch you fucks with, I’m not the kind of fat bitch you fucks with.
As a kid I experienced a few years of intense bullying, other heartbreaks and surviving my own depression and whatnot. At heart, I am a deeply sensitive person and for a long time every “criticism” told me how I could improve as a human being.
When I was around 21 I was hanging out with a friend helping him get some drag make up looks together and I remember mentioning that a person we both knew called me a dumb cunt not in a friend type of way and how hurt I was. I cried because I was very nice to this person, never rude or mean and he just hated me.
My friend looked at me and after fussing at me for crying my lashes off said some magic words,
“Who the fuck is that bitch?”
That stopped me dead in my tracks. Who was that bitch?
Fast forward to me having opinions on the internet. Given the vile things that folks have said to my face in meatspace, just about everything folks say to/about me online kinda doesn’t make it into my airspace.
Last year my friend Dena wrote this piece at The Rumpus about death threats. She and I were texting about it and I was laughing. The thing is, if I took these things to heart every time, I’d have no time to write.
Every time I’ve had a DM or email telling me I’m gonna get doxxed, raped, murdered etc I’ve had to take time out of my day to figure out what the real threat level is.
When it comes to anything less than threats of physical violence or rape, I kinda don’t care.
When I was writing at XoJane and was told I was being hate read, and watched some of these hate readers realize they ALSO hated my blog previously and then smugly talk about how much I suck, yeah it hurt my feelings. Yes i took some time to try to digest some of what was said to see if I was in fact dead ass wrong.
I went and read the forum thread where I was mentioned a good amount and had a realization that, well fuck I’m just not for these people.
The most sage writing advice I was given once upon a time was that my work in particular is just not for everyone.
When I’m told that I’m being hate read I have learned to not try and engage. When I was writing for XoJane I did ask a few people in earnest what the problem was but didn’t really get solid answers. I also learned that poking a little bit of fun at these folks is a nono.
The biggest lesson I learned is this.
Hate me, my work, my face, my fat ass all you want to. That’s perfectly fine. I know that I am not the flavor for everyone and not everyone is my flavor.
If you’re clicking the stuff I get published to hate read, thanks brosef. I still get paid even if it is a measly 50$ (there I go poking fun again, but seriously, I was told it is laughable to be getting a measly 50$ for an article…LOL) I still get paid.
Next thing, being told I suck probably won’t ever stop me from saying things.
A big one I had to learn is that people hating every word I type doesn’t usually end up in me getting fired from a thing. That was a hard one to really take in. At Xojane after the first go round, I thought I’d be asked not to contribute again because obviously, that was not my audience. I wasn’t asked to stop. I found an audience there in spite of the bullshit.
Here’s the thing.
In the context of the whole world, there are a shitload of people who will never like, approve of or generally give a fuck about me or you.
That being what it is, we don’t have to write to change their minds. You can’t, really. It’s like when someone says to you while you’re walking down the street, “I hate your ugly fucking shoes.” Well, you’re wearing the shoes and walking and that person is not offering to buy you new shoes so you keep stepping right?
Haterade is not really your problem.
If your name is ALL over the place because your thing, whatever your thing is, is going well for you, your haters are just gonna have to put on their big person panties and hardhat and survive.
The next thing is, sometimes Haterade means you are doing exactly what you need to do. You are making some segment of people uncomfortable and it’s unfortunate that they are lashing out at you, but maybe you’re making that bit of difference.
Lastly, I know we all sometimes hate read. The difference between those of us who do sometimes and those of us who take it to asshole levels is that we leave it alone.
Here’s the thing. Hate something you encounter, but don’t follow that person around trying to get them fired, trying to take food out of their mouths etc.
Now, naturally I know there are times when the above is the right action. I believe you know how to use your own discretion.
If things get to trolling or you feel endangered take action. Otherwise, leave them haters alone. They are doing what they do and you can’t fix it or them.
Tomorrow I’m gonna talk AWP and where and how to find me if you’re so inclined.