The Flipside to Going Viral
The awesome thing about going viral is you get paid. The rough thing about going viral is people want blood. Some people have written me long explanations describing in wonderful detail why I suck. Other people are briefer, like the one I got this morning. “What a disparaging waste of my time.”
It makes me think about a restaurant I know that closed because of a couple of bad yelp reviews. Someone wanted blood. They ripped the place to shreds in bad reviews. They didn't die of food poisoning. A waiter didn’t punch them in the face or visibly spit in their water. But they repeatedly wrote bad Yelp reviews, eviscerating all the good ones.
When the restaurant shut down, the restaurant owners left a note on the door for Yelpers. Thanks for closing a 50-year-old family business. I think there was an F-Bomb in there somewhere.
The lovely thing about Medium is there are so many kind and supportive comments to weigh against the teardowns. And we, writers, are not like restaurants. We don’t open or close based on good or bad reviews. Not unless we let it get to us.
As a writer, it’s my responsibility to myself, my creativity, and my own serenity to not let random insults get into my head and shut me down.
To write, I need to protect my state of mind. That means not letting in the voices that makes me feel like shit. This applies to hostile responses from strangers. It also pertains to people in your own life, who don’t make you feel great about yourself.
The first negative response I got on a story really dug in. Their response was longer than my article. As a writer, I wanted to encourage them to keep on writing. I wanted to urge them on, to follow their passion. I wanted to praise their ability to get words on the page. But, as a human, I wasn’t sure how to feel.
Should I be scared? Offended? Defensive? Percentage-wise, I was getting more love than hate, but everybody knows how we, as humans, give more weight to hate than to love.
30,000 people can love us and one person can hate us and guess who we give the bullhorn to? Yep. That angry little shit in the corner who thinks we need to be punched in the gut.
I try not to rent too much brain space to the haters, but man, are they loud. It’s funny because as writers, we don’t choose what people decide to read of ours. There are pieces I love no one bats an eye at. There are pieces I feel ambiguous about that fill my pockets.
I don’t what makes people write angry responses instead of working on their own impassioned essays. Maybe they’re afraid their own readers will be as unkind to them as they have been to other writers.