I’m actually surprised I haven’t written this post sooner.
But HI, here I am.
I remember the first time I got in real serious shit with the internet haters. It was a summer evening. Maybe a Tuesday because Tuesdays are quiet and nothing of groundbreaking excitement ever happens on a Tuesday, and I was in the bath.
It was still light outside and Rudey was playing in the garden of my studio flat. I was sobbing. Sitting naked in the bath and sobbing. Every time I refreshed Twitter on my phone there was new hate, new abuse spewed by strangers – people I’d never met who had hunted out my account and were bombarding me with their vile, twisted words.
I felt so alone and so desperately trapped because there’s no way to stop the social media current, it’s 24/7 wherever you are. You can’t walk away from it, it is there, happening whether you refresh your phone or not. It is out of your control and it is constant.
Maybe in hindsight I could have deleted my Twitter app and tried to distract myself – go for a run or chain-watch something on Netflix, but because it was my first experience of something like that on such a grand scale, I was morbidly fascinated by each new tweet and comment that rolled in.
It hurt, it stabbed, but I needed to know what people were saying about me.
Y’see, this wasn’t even anything to do with my blog, this was to do with a little summin’ I’d whipped up for Metro.co.uk. I guess I didn’t expect anyone to read it when I wrote it, and looking back I could have been more sensitive in my choice of words, but that’s hindsight for ya.
It was shared 267,000 times, and something viral on that scale is gonna attract attention and guess what? NOTHING, nothing, nothing in this world can be shared that many times and not generate some hate and negativity, it’s just the way the internet works.
Eventually the comments died down as did the spike in traffic and I started to pick myself up, but it’s a weird place to be in mentally when you’ve got people tweeting you to tell you that something you’ve produced is the funniest thing they’ve ever read and at the same time have people tell you that you should go and kill yourself.
You’re kind of elated and proud of yourself for making such an impact but at the same time you just want to cocoon yourself away in bed until the world ends. And it becomes the only thing you can think about – no distraction is strong enough.
And since that Tuesday night nearly 18 months ago, every week has bought with it a fresh wave of negativity.
Sometimes it’s just one fat jibe, sometimes it’s one post that sets off a string of comments about how privileged I am or how I can’t write or how I just churn out the same content over and over again or that I need to stop using the same words repeatedly. But it’s always there and I’m always just a matter of hours away from the next comment.
I’d say for every sentence of people disagreeing with me, there’s 70 incredible sentences. And I know, I know above all else it is the love and positivity and support that I should take away when I read my tweets and emails and Facebook messages and blog post comments – but it’s those words full of hate, the ones that punch me in the stomach and make my eyes sting with tears that I remember the most.
The ones that my brain refers back to for fleeting moments throughout the rest of the day and week.
They become etched into my soul, and the ones I can remember word for word now, a month or a year on.
The internet is a place for freedom of speech, a place where we can remain face-less and speak from the heart. We can pour our emotions and trails of thoughts into blog posts, and we can comment with a level of confidence that we might not have in real-life.
When people drop me emails and say ‘Hannah, I adore your blog but I just wanted to let you know there’s a tiny typo in the last sentence and I didn’t know if I should tell you but I just thought I’d drop you a note’, that, that I love. That isn’t criticism, that is a girl helping another girl out, and I am forever thankful.
There is a difference between pointing something out because you want to put someone in their place or cause upset and pointing something out in order to be helpful.
There is always, always a friendly way to say something you don’t agree with, and it’s when people approach things with such anger and hate and venom that it upsets me.
I’m a firm believer in ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. I think we can all help each other make this life we lead, more positive and smiley and enjoyable for each other. There’s enough crap and hard times in our journeys through life without stopping to bring each other down just because, well, we can.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we uplifted each other and supported each other and raised each other up, rather than attempting to bring each other down?
I sometimes wonder what I’ve changed in my writing style to offend people when similar posts two years ago wouldn’t have touched a nerve, and I look back and I realise nothing has changed, nothing except the amount of readers I have.
With popularity and success comes more people who’ll love what you do and more people who’ll hate it, and I think that’s the important thing to realise if you’re getting any negativity and it’s kinda shocking you and taking the air out of your chest.
IT MEANS YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT, people are reading your words.
I can’t please everyone and the sooner I learn to see that, the sooner I will be at peace with the content I’m producing.
I don’t want to be the blogger who sits on the fence and doesn’t put her soul and her personality into her posts, because I like to think that that’s the edge that makes me different. That that’s the reason you guys come back time and time again, because who I am really shines through in my words.
I have opinions and I lay my fears and my emotions and my confusing thoughts into everything I write. I don’t edit for what the world or the internet will deem prettiest or nicest to read, I just write my inner monologue out for you.
And maybe that’s why I take comments so personally – it is people saying that my head is wrong. That the streams of thoughts and emotions I experience are wrong, broken and don’t matter. And that hurts, pretty bad.
Anyway, I’m off to paint my nails a really sassy colour so I feel all fly and like COME AT ME WORLD. (Destiny’s Child’s Independent Woman *might* have just come on and now I’m feeling like I might take over the world and soz and that if I become prime minister).
Oh, and one thing, all you people out there who go out of your way to actively dislike me, you can call me fat or ugly or tell me that you’re bored with my writing, but don’t ever tell me I have no idea about how to create digital content, I think this blog and my CV prove that damn girl, if there’s one thing I’m pretty competent at, it’s that.
(Side note: I’m also quite good at nail painting and bubble writing and having speedy showers).
BIG LOVE INTERNET GAL PALS.