I’ve had something rather painful happen to me lately.
Sometimes a friend of mine will take a photo of someone that she sees wearing a questionable outfit. She doesn’t mean anything by it; she’s just amazed that people would leave the house looking like that. So when I saw a girl down in Newport wearing something odd, I snapped a shot and posted it to my Flickr so she would see that strange outfits aren’t limited to NYC.
All I said on the description was that the girl in question was a bad dresser, and I pointed out that the girl’s belly wasn’t covered by her shirt.
And I thought no more of it.
Until yesterday, when a rather anonymous person left a blistering comment on that photo. I’m assuming it was a woman, since her screenname featured a female name. But her account, if she really even had one, was completely private. I couldn’t see her photostream or anything about her.
This woman had a point, which is that I am not the fashion police, and that it is hurtful that I posted a photo that for all intents and purposes mocked this person’s sense of fashion. However, she went far overboard with her comments.
I was told that my awful red hair clashes terribly with my bright pink shirts, that my hair style looks horrific on me as it hits me right where my face is chubbiest, that I wear my shirts too small and I let my disgusting fat rolls hang out. I was also accused of looking like a ghastly clown with the amount of makeup I wear, considering the bright colors, and she encouraged me to adopt a “less is more” mentality. I can’t even remember all of what she said; she went on for several paragraphs, attacking all parts of my appearance. I’m guessing she trolled my photostream for evidence.
Really, I know that this person must be insane because there is no call to say anything like that to anyone. It’s even more obvious when you realize that her account being private means she can hide behind her anonymity.
Instead of confronting her, I simply deleted her comment. But how it hurt. Everything I am sensitive about, she hit me on. I know my belly is fat from having babies, and I fear I will never lose it. I’ve never been one to think I’m all that attractive anyhow, so to be criticized for being ugly really bothered me. And when she hit on my makeup… ouch. I’ve always been told that folks like my makeup, but maybe they are simply telling me what I want to hear, not what I need to hear. And so now I have all kinds of doubts about my opinion of myself.
But the thing is, why do people do this?? I see this so often, folks leaving horrible comments on photos or YouTube videos or news articles. If someone disagrees with another’s viewpoint, it becomes open season on that person. Attack his appearance, his character, his integrity, his intelligence. Anything to tear him down so that the other person feels superior.
I’m starting to understand why sensitive teens attempt suicide when they’ve been cyber-bullied. It hurts. I should be able to shake this stuff off, but it’s making me question everything I wear, everything I put on my face, every time I brush my hair. When I was at the hairdresser’s today, I almost colored my hair brown again. I know I get loads of compliments on the red, but what if it does look ridiculous?
I’ve lost my equilibrium a bit. I lost a bit of confidence in myself.
And that’s what I hope people will realize, that there is a human with feelings on the other side of the screen. The internet may feel anonymous, but you’re not communicating with robots. They are people, deserving of our respect.
Remember when our mothers would say, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Maybe we should amend it to, “If you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, don’t stay it on the internet.” It isn’t funny. It’s downright cruel.
Let’s spread a little love instead.