Yesterday was a bit of a blah day. It wasn’t terrible, but had the usual rumblings of stress and frustration, compounded by the moody skies which only encourage my ever increasing SAD. I wasn’t high on joy, but I wasn’t having a particularly wobbly day either. It was going to be one of those days I’d likely forget, one that would merge with all those other non eventful days in my year, until….
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have to urge to search my name in Twitter. If this isn’t something you do, I really hope you don’t translate such an action as vain or narcissistic. Sometimes I just feel compelled to know if people are responding to the blogs or videos I put out, and more often that not I’m glad I did, because I stumble across some lovely uplifting feedback on the work I’m doing. Sadly this isn’t always the case, though. Everytime you decide to type your name in that blank box you run the risk of ruining your day. What’s more furstrating is that the hefty drop in mood is something you could have avoided. You could/should have stayed in blissful ignorance.
Of course criticism, negativity and rudeness can be less easy to avoid when the day-ruiners decide to @ you in their comments. I also get alerts when I get YouTube comments so I generally see all of those too…good, bad or completely bonkers!
Back to yesterday….So after doing all my work and doing a whole lot of life laundry I then go to potter on my laptop….you know a quick scroll down the sidebar of shame on The Daily Mail, watching a few cute animals videos that come up on the facebook feed, and seeing what everyone’s nattering about on Twitter. Then I thought let’s see if anyone’s enjoying my new hair tutorial. I haven’t posted a band interview for a while so didn’t really think I’d find anything too scathing. I only tend to get negatives when I’ve done interviews. I guess because people are so passionate about the artists I chat to and have rigid ideas of the questions they’d like to be asked and how they’d like the interviewer(me) to behave in the band/artist’s presence. I am a girl interviewing that predomnantely interviews males, so you can imagine the angle some of the criticim takes.
So yesterday I found a tweet that said ‘I don’t know what it is about Sophie Eggleton but she makes me cringe’. I don’t know if I have quoted it exactly but I don’t want to go back on the girls page to view it again, in part because there may be more sad-making tweets since our twitter exchange.
I know I should have just shrugged it off, but in the heat of upset I decided to reply. I didn’t send an angry reply, there’s no point, and it’s just not in my nature. I just said ‘Sorry to hear that, I am pretty cringe though. Never been very cool.’
The thing is, I am fully aware that I am cringe. I have never pretended to smooth, cool, or any current word that means that same thing. I am awkward, clumsy and tend to overshare on a regular basis. Rather than pretend I am this super slick, aspirational character that behaves in a confident and sexy manner, I’ve decided to embrace my character and just hope that others can relate to it and my less than polished approach to life.
I guess what bothered me about this particular comment was the following things. The fact that someone would feel strongly enough about finding me cringe that they would feel the need to post it publicly online. Secondly I worried that they didn’t think I knew that I was cringe…like it was brand new information to me, when I’m actually fully aware and have made a positive move to just embrace who I am rather than pretend to be someone else….like someone cooler. Thirdly (is that a word, I dunno) rather than relate to me, they used it as a reason to dislike me and the work I do.
They replied to my tweet. I kinda hoped (for the good of mankind, and myself) they’d be embarrassed that I’d seen it, or show some remorse, but instead I got this…
‘hahaha i give u credit for being able to interview people though, i’d never have the confidence’
So while many of you might think this is a nice tweet, it pretty much says that she doesn’t take anything back and even though I’m horribly cringe to watch, kudos to me for having the balls (or ovaries) to do it.
I just replied saying I hope the fact the fact that a cringe person like me can interview people will give fellow cringey people some hope.
I decided this wasn’t going to go anywhere….no satisfying resolution would occur.
I know some of the bigger YouTubers will look at this exchange and not deem it worthy of a lenghty blog post. Once you viewers rack up, so do you negative comments, the thumbs downs and people having an opinion on every aspect of your life. But my reaction to this one, fairly muted criticism, makes me wonder whether I’m made of strong enough stuff for this particular career route.
I am so very lucky, 90-95 percent of my feedback is supportive, loving, encouraging and friendly. Annoyingly though I find it hard to forget about the harsh minority, which is frustrating because that means they’ve won. The nice people should be getting more of my attention, but my brain doesn’t work like that.
I’ve always found it hard to accept compliments, something that my boyfriends have always found difficult to deal with. I find negative comments so much more believable, so tend to take them on…like a heavy hiking backpack that gradually bends my spine bend and forces the gaze of my eyes into my shadowed chest. When I was growing up my parents made a conscious decision to never plump up our feathers, we were always kids that were modest to the point of being depracating, while other parents celebrated and shouted from the rooftops about the successes of their offspring.
In some ways I am extremely grateful that they didn’t massage our egos or tell us we were great when we weren’t (or even when we were), but I can’t help but wonder whether that has had a lasting effect on my confidence. Although I had plenty of lovely friends and got on with all the different segregated groups at school, I wasn’t one of the girls that people fancied, and didn’t own all the tangiable items that made you cool during those superificial years. Yet again, I’m glad we weren’t spoiled, we always had everything we needed and the presents we did get always felt extremely special, but I think I still hold on to how I felt at school – lacking on confidence, lacking in cool, a bit of a doormat, and extremely self critical.
Another recent comment, this time on my YouTube, was one that said ‘the interviewer looks like a man’. Other people I told about it, said that it was so ridiculous that it was laughable, but then I started to analyse my pictures (more so than usual) and started to see the commenters point. I saw a manly strong jaw, a face that lacked delicate or sexy female features. I felt knocked for six, not wanting to post any pictures of myself on social media and closing my curtains to reside in the safe darkness of my bedroom. When my acne was at it’s worst (something which has had a huge effect on my confidence over the years) I used make sure my room was so dark I wouldn’t be able to see my clear reflection in my mirrored wardrobes, and would make sure my hair hid my face like a closed curtain should I bump into anyone in the kitchen during the rare moments I’d venture out of the safe zone.
Alongside the knock to my fairly frail confidence levels, the mere fact people take time out of their days to do this is wholly depressing to me. I almost want to ask them what they hope to acheive or get out of typing such a thing. Would it make them happy to know it ruined my day/week? Did it make them feel better about themselves? How do they explain using a few seconds out of their day to do it? (Seconds that someone else would use to make the world a better place).
A few months ago I replied to another ‘troll’ who had left a comment on one of my interviews, an interview that had actually been overwhelmingly positively receieved. In a calm manner I explained how difficult it is to do interviews, and how the situations you tend to interview in are often manic and stressful, and I always do the best I can, and I’m sorry she didn’t enjoy it. I finished my reply by making sure she knew that comments like this did effect me and ruined my days.
To my shock, happy shock though, she replied with a refreshingly open and apolagetic response. She said that she realisesd how unfair her comment was, how she hadn’t considered how hard it can be, and that she realised how her words could effect those they are directed to. She felt so bad about how it had made me feel, she ended continuing the conversation by messaging me on instagram and following me on all my social media’s. I thought it was so impressive that this young girl reacted in such a mature manner, that she was willing to accept fault and wanted to make amends. She now often likes my posts and leaves positive comments.
These made me wonder a couple of things. Would this response to nasty comments work for the majority that leave them in terms of changing their view on leaving them in the future? Could careful responses lead to changing the behaviour of people online?
Also….perhaps some trolls are just looking for reaction from the victim, and actually hope the post will lead to some interaction, even if its a negative or angered one.
The problem is that even if it did work there’s just too much out there. We’d never make a dent. We should have had stricter things in place from the start of YouTube and Twitter, ensured the ethos was positive from the off and that cruelty and bullying wouldn’t be tolerated. A romantic and unrealistic viewpoint I know….but imagine logging on to positvity, encouragement, healthy debate and acceptance of differing opinons on a daily basis.
I guess another factor in taking all this to heart is the fact that as a freelancer I’m working all day on my own, there’s no colleagues or bosses giving me feedpack or praise regarding my work. The only gauge I have regarding the quality of my work is the reaction I get online. We/I perhaps put too much significance on the responses of these strangers, hanging onto their words as if they are fact. Not that they keep their comments work based though, they get more personal and off topic than any boss would be allowed to.
The more robust of you reading this will probably be shouting at the screen and telling me to woman-up and get a grip. I know I should cling on to all the frequent and lovely comments I get, but it’s not as easy at that. I’m rather delicate, which I don’t mind to a point, but I wish my skin was a little less transclucent. I’d so hate for my fear, and the wrath of a few, to hinder my success in this field.
I only ever want to work hard and do well, surely there’s not too much worthy of hate in that?