And I came across a quasi-popular post that made the rounds a few months ago that was a sort of incoherent critique of a post I had written that I suppose some people disagreed with. The initial post was pretty vitriolic/personal, and it had been a while since I’d seen something of that nature, so I looked through the notes.
I was surprised to see a decent handful of people I know on Tumblr, people I know personally, and people I have worked with or am connected to professionally mocking me in a really sort of sick way. A lot of things like “I love making fun of her,” “She is not a genuine person, she has a superiority complex about her readers” and things of that nature. Really pathetic stuff.
At first, I was inclined to respond to them in some way, and even got close to reblogging something. It’s easy to let things like this get to you and make you feel as though you are in a fight with people — and that they have already got in the first swing without you realizing it. I came up with what I estimate to be a fairly witty little comeback and hoped that it would make for maximum effect against the people I felt were cowardly and dishonest for making fun of me in such a way when, to my face (and when it was potentially beneficial for them) they have always been so nice.
The truth is that, as you progress in any media field, you will get people who do this kind of thing. The only difference is that, as you move up the invisible chain, they’ll be less cavalier about doing it to your face.
I’m not stupid. I know that I have people who, because of the media “cliques” they run in (this is so sad to even type out, we are grown adults and yet this is really how it works) are bound to be talking shit about me and the publication I work for behind my back. I don’t live with some false notion that everyone is my friend and is unequivocally supportive of/happy for me. Even if it would be nice to imagine.
I have gotten used to the idea that people will make gross assumptions about me as a person, and will cut me down at any opportunity to make a few quick notes off of other people’s schadenfreude. (I found more than one person who dedicates at least a post or two per week of highlighting and making fun of something I write here or elsewhere.)
In some ways, you take it as a compliment. At the risk of sounding pretentious (and I know it will, but it is also true), there is absolutely a part of them that is jealous. Without exception, the most vocal of this minority is the group which aspires to be writers of some kind themselves. Whether or not they like the kind of writing I do, they dislike the fact that I get to be a professional writer and they do not. They feel more deserving, and feel personally slighted by my success. Of course, by extension, they are also saying that the people who make my writing popular have bad or simple taste, but I’m sure they’re condescending enough to already know that.
One of the things I try to do in all of my work and personal blogging is to never make fun of another person for my expense. I might tease a general group, or talk about trends that I see, but I don’t take another writer and drag them through the mud for other people to laugh at. I don’t have people who I “love to make fun of” behind their back. And this is because, among other things, I feel very grateful for what I have. I am so happy to do what I love every day and meet so many wonderful people who share my thoughts on a million different subjects. I love opening my emails and reading hundreds of stories of young women and men all over the world who are going through some of the very same things I am. I feel, often, like the luckiest person in the world, and I don’t want to tarnish that or jeopardize it by building even a small percentage of my personal “brand” on shitting on one of my colleagues.
I get so many messages and emails every day about what people can do to start or build a career in writing. And I believe that one of the most important things, beyond just writing as much as possible and developing the talents you find that you have, is being diplomatic. It’s being a kind person to other people and not using another person’s humiliation as an opportunity for just the tiniest bit of gain on your part. Because this is a huge part of media culture right now — the callouts which become name-calling which become plain-old hate. People get off and get noticed by saying terrible things about one another. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s childish.
You’ll note that almost none of the people who are writing these incredibly mean things on a regular basis (about myself or anyone else) have achieved a serious level of professional success. It’s pretty standard knowledge that, in the professional world, there is a certain level of decorum, even about people you dislike. And if your pastime is saying things like this about others, few people are going to want to interact with you in a visible way.
Don’t participate in this. Be the kind of person who uses their platform and influence to find new writers to put forward, or to give advice, or to promote something they think is cool. Making fun of culture or TV or the internet or whatever is fine and great and necessary, but don’t start making fun of a peer. Don’t start making sport out of talking trash. Because people notice it, and they can feel the bitterness oozing from every pore, and can even sometimes read (yes, people really do write this) “this publication rejected me and now I’m going to shit-talk them at every opportunity.”
I am not a perfect person by any means. But I have a clean conscience, and I don’t think that I would be able to write publicly if I didn’t. I don’t go to sleep on edge, waiting for the new thing to make fun of or to see if someone responded to my vitriol. Sure, I might write things that are tone-deaf or insensitive or wrong. And I’m always here to hear about it and learn from my mistakes and get better. But my time is not spent grabbing at the ankles above me to try and get a foothold — and I have no respect for people who do. Neither should you.
So I just want to say thank you to all of the people I follow and know and hear from who are kind and respectful and use their voice for positivity. The vast majority of the things I hear and see are incredibly kind and uplifting and deserve to be heard more. The internet often does not reward people who refrain from rampant shit-talk, but that doesn’t mean everyone should start attending the Perez Hilton School of Public Relations.
Keep being kind.
No one can promise you anything in life, but know that, whatever you do achieve, you’ll feel good about your journey when you finally get there.
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- jodieee said: Very well said, as always. You are so wonderfully human. :)
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- ladaysandnights said: You are such a sweet, earnest young woman Chelsea!
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- shmurdapunk said: It’s like Katt Williams says, if you got haters you’re doing something right.
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