We all learned that rhyme as kids and even back then, we knew it was crap. Sticks and stones hurt, but so can words.
A few months ago I wrote a post about living in Austin, Texas. When I initially posted it, it didn’t make much of a splash. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Some people didn’t care either way. Jump ahead to yesterday and… BOOM!
Over the last two days that post has had over 18,000 views and over 300 comments.
To say that I am overwhelmed by the attention is an understatement. I thought I had hit my biggest number of views when I was featured as “Freshly Pressed” last month. Wow, was I wrong. Almost overnight my blog views exploded. And so did the comments. While I’m happy and grateful to have so much attention, I am also a little freaked out by all the hate.
I knew my piece on Austin wasn’t going to be popular with… some people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Texans, it is this: Texans LOVE Texas. Texans do not want to hear about/from/of people who do not love Texas. Oh, and this: Texans hate Californians. Not one to back down from opposition, I wrote about my personal experiences here in Austin.
Knowing what I know, I expected some criticism. And I welcome criticism. I welcome dissent and discussion. What I don’t welcome is hateful or hurtful speech. I don’t welcome rude comments. I do not welcome personal attacks. I don’t know what it is about the internet that lets people think they can be assholes, but people be assholes! Here is a short list of things people wrote to me, or about me because I don’t like living in Austin.
Bitch, loser, pretentious snob, whore, asshole, cunt, twat,”Get the fuck out”, privileged rich bitch, co-ed, idiot, stupid, ugly, lame, retarded and finally, evil. Yes, evil.
After a day and a half of trying to wade through these comments and find the ones worth reading, I gave up. I closed the comments and gave myself some peace.
Now, I am left with a weird feeling. The comments don’t really bother me. I’m used to it. I think it is the sheer volume of them – both good and bad. But who does that? Who logs on the internet, reads an opinion they don’t like and then calls that person a cunt? Who does that? And the fact that someone would say such ugly things and then think I am stupid enough to actually post them just astounds me. Honestly. My blog is not a democracy. (Nobody can publish a comment without it getting through me first. If I don’t like it, it goes in the trash. So be nice.)
The internet should be a place for opinions and discussion. It shouldn’t be a place for bad behavior. Don’t assume you know someone from reading one thing they have written. Or twenty. Unless you actually call that person a “friend”, you don’t know them. Don’t go assuming that all people different from you are crazy, and don’t yell at people who have a different opinion. Just because you scream doesn’t mean you’ll be heard.
All I can do is keep on doing what I’ve been doing for the last 8 years. Write. I’m going to keep on writing about where I am and what I see. Hopefully some of you get something from it. People asked me what I thought of Austin, so I told them. It’s my opinion. You might have a different one and that’s rad. If that different opinion is something you are passionate about, you can tell me about it. If you tell me about it using respect I’ll even post it. If you do not use respect your opinion will not be heard. It will go in the trash. Telling someone to move out of “your” city is juvenile. Screaming about how amazing Austin was in the 90’s doesn’t do anyone any good in 2013. Name calling, and ignorant statements will be ignored.
I did have some kind folks who wrote and apologized on behalf of their city and the lovely language used by some of Austin’s finest citizens. They said thank you for sharing and best of luck for the future. It made me smile. A little politeness goes a long way. So just be nice. Even if you don’t agree with someone. You can disagree without calling someone a rude name, or sounding ignorant.
Or at least most of us can.