You can’t write something that people like without writing something that people hate. For every fan you acquire, you’ll get some idiot going, “God, why does anyone listen to this jerk at all?”
God forbid you write about political or cultural issues. As Gamergate has shown, writing bad reviews of videogames is a crime that some feel is properly punishable by rape threats and personal, targeted, we-have-your-home-address attacks.
And I have some folks who hate me. Like, really hate me. They bitch about me in comments, write osts talking about what a toxic fartbag I am, feel that I am everything that is ruining men/women/culture/ponies, and in general spend some nonzero portion of their week seething that I exist.
These people aren’t my enemies.
They’re not important enough to be my enemies.
And that’s a distinction I draw for my own personal sanity. The Internet is a nice place, but when you’ve got 400 comments raining down on your head, there’s this tendency to go oh my God, this is so huge, it swells to fill the world like Jörmungandr, the snake that will strangle the world come the end-times.
Then you go get a fro-yo, and not one single person putting sprinkles on their banana yogurt shakes you by the lapels and screams, “Hey, are you the person who wrote that awful post?” and you remember: hey, nobody gives a shit.
Mostly, this is just words on the Internet, and gossip, and people you’ve barely met disliking you. And I’m not discarding the importance of Internet buddies – I remind you that I met my wife online – but so much of the chaos that gets caused any day is like a Facebook status. You post it, it gets a zillion comments, and two months later it’s pretty much vanished.
The Internet has the memory of a goldfish.
Now, people: people have the memory of a vindictive elephant with sawn-off tusks and the scent of an old hunter in its nostrils, fetishing the day that elephant will hunt down its own enemy Liam-Neeson style and crash through it’s window and IT’S ELEPHANTING TIME, BABY. So you have people who’ll never forget. And they’ll remember all the horrid things you said (whether “what you said” was justified or not), and they’ll bring it up again, and they’ll leave snarky comments everywhere.
Truth is, though, most people read your post, and forget your name immediately thereafter. There’s a billion squawking heads on the Internet. You are one of them, and chances are good that the world has forgotten about your awesome (or horrible) post in the same way you don’t remember the name of the person who wrote that article on Buzzfeed.
But me? I refuse to let some snarky comment from a single elephant-hunter-hunter replace the goodness of, say, an actual hug from my genuine wife. Or a face-to-face conversation with my daughter about life.
I have made a decision that my Internet life isn’t that important, and while I do actually have people who would prefer I died horrifically in a grease fire, I’m not going to call them “enemies.”
Enemies are people who do more than bitch about me. My enemies hurt the people I love, undermine my relationships, cause me unwanted physical pain. To call the author of a nasty blog post my “enemy” is granting them a power over me that, frankly, I don’t feel like giving.
They’re the opposition, of course. They’re racist, misogynist, backwater scumholes who I will work to my best extent to stop in their goals. But at the end of the day, I can put that down and snuggle in with my wife to watch another episode of Agents of SHIELD, because in the end, they’re background noise.
That’s how I function. Because I get exhausted by constant conflict.
But there are those who get energized by battle, and for them, I say, “Go get yourself some damn enemies.” Because they could be enemies; if they had their way, they’d certainly ensure you were second-class citizens in every way, and if that’s not enough to paint someone with the “enemy” targeting reticule, then I don’t know what is. (Not to mention that, as the Gamergate has also shown, “being a guy” is like a superpower on the Internet in that if you’re a woman, douchebros will go to great lengths to attempt to dismantle your life in ways that go well beyond insults. Which would make them my enemies.)
If being filled with seething hatred is what slaps a sword in your hand, then I say drink deep of rage, my friend.
But if – if – you’re like me and find all of this strife to be an effort that you push past in order to try to make change in the world, then you might try stuffing your so-called “enemies” in a box.
Me? I have the pleasant happiness of knowing that my not-caring drives the opposition mad. I’m cheerful to them. I wave hello when I see them trashing me.
And when I finish the day, there I am cuddled up with friends, the haters tucked neatly away, concentrating on what matters to me. There’s my wife. And my friends. And the things I love to do.
Those guys are HTML code somewhere on a server. They’re not this sweet kiss from my sweetie.
I wouldn’t let ‘em get in the way of that.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.