It takes courage to have internet presence.
It takes courage to keep a blog, and to pour your thoughts and your feelings into a post and then click ‘publish’ without knowing exactly who will read it. It takes courage to make a video when you’re feeling insecure about yourself and to upload it to YouTube without knowing whether you’ll become the victim of harsh criticism about your ideas, your appearance, or your editing skills. It takes courage to go onto Twitter and to post updates as though anybody actually cares without knowing whether someone will turn around and tell you to shut up.
The internet can be a cruel place. Oh, there are so many benefits – if people love you on YouTube, you’ll be stopped in the street by strangers wanting to know if you’re “that guy off the internet” and girls wanting to marry you (hopefully not in my case, because I have no inclination to marry anyone, least of all a girl I’ve never met. Just so you know).
But it is hard to write something and to let it go enough to share it.
I’ve had times when I’ve come online only to see a rude comment about a piece of my writing, with no explanation, often anonymous or by what seems to be a spam user. I’ve had times when I’ve logged on to YouTube and found that a video had more ‘dislikes’ than ‘likes’ without a single comment to let me know what it was I did wrong in their eyes. I’ve had times when just the thought of Facebook made me want to cry because of what people said on there.
Writing is like that.
You never know what a review is going to say. Hearing people critique your work (“I hate your characters and want them to die” is at the more extreme end of the spectrum, but it happened to me recently) is hard. It’s difficult to separate yourself from your work and realise that just because they don’t like the story, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you.
I’m really bad at accepting constructive criticism, and even worse when people go out of their way to make me miserable without any explanation, which has happened in the past. Ratings of 1 out of 5 without any comment are the worst because you don’t know if it’s genuine and if you really need to improve that much.
I think the main reason is that I hate to be wrong.
If I correct someone and then they tell me that I’m wrong in my correction, I try and accept it. I say, “Oh, good point. Sorry.” But inside, I’m almost dying of embarrassment, because I hate not being the one in the right. I’m awful at apologising. Recently, I had a situation in which I was sure I wasn’t the one who needed to say sorry, but in the end it seemed that I would have to. And I think I probably did overreact in the first place and hurt people, so that’s what I should have done. I’m glad I did it.
Recently I’ve become aware that my sister is reading my blog, and yesterday (after an argument regarding my use of her camera tripod to make videos), she yelled at my parents, “Well, maybe you should read her blog and see what she’s really up to!”
I don’t think I’m “up to” anything. I don’t think my blog says anything that I wouldn’t say to my parents. Does it? The idea that people I know are looking at this and seeing the story with all the details I miss out when explaining it at school is very strange. It never bothered me that strangers knew all about my hopes and dreams, yet the thought that my friends and family might is worrying.
Why is that? Why am I more secretive from them than the rest of the world?
I suppose it’s because I have to see them all the time. If they criticise me or put down something that I want to do, I can’t just run away from it. I can’t close down the computer and walk away, because they’re real people. And the opinions of our family and close friends matter more, in general, than the opinion of strangers.
I try to be perfectly honest when I’m blogging or making videos. I also try to draw the line as to what people don’t need to know. The main thing that stops my finger from clicking ‘publish’ on a post, however, is the thought that whatever I write could be seen by anyone. My sister. A friend from school. A teacher. The head.
Once this is out there, it’s out there forever. I don’t know who will send a link to another person, someone maybe I didn’t want to see it.
You have to be careful with the internet. Unless you’ve got a very thick skin, it’s all too easy to find yourself at the receiving end of everything bad about anonymity in commenting.