Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why I Sorta Like the Hate

"Never Read the Comments" is great advice, but it's not advice I often take because I really don't mind when I get negative comments about my writing. 

The most negative feedback I usually receive is from commenters on Alaska Dispatch News, on the few occasions the ADN asks to reprint my blog posts. Usually it's from people who don't regularly read my blog, don't know me, and/or don't understand that I'm being satirical and sarcastic. Or if they do, they just don't think I'm all that funny, and that's fine.

The widely-read lightning plane flight post got all kinds of negative responses: I'm a stupid drama queen. I shouldn't be sitting in an exit row. I'm full of myself. I'm trying to get attention for myself. I lied to a flight attendant about being able to perform exit row duties. I am exploiting 9/11. I don't really have or understand PTSD. I am "reprehensible." I'm "low class." And a "f-ing c---" (I think that one was supposed to be "fucking cunt.").

None of that's remotely true, of course (or at least none of it's true in this particular case) since the piece is just meant to entertain people. It's supposed to be a funny and exaggerated account of a briefly scary incident--a way to deal with fear and anxiety through humor. To me, that's exactly what it is and all it is. 

The fact that lots of people don't understand when I'm being sarcastic or hyperbolic has always confused me. I want to pretend it doesn't bother me, provoke me, or make my heart race in a bad way. But it does, at least a little. 

However, when I step back, it bothers me less than it amuses me; deep down I know it makes no sense to take personally attacks from strangers who don't even know me, people who for whatever reason just like to pick fights with strangers on the Internet. And overall, it just makes me want to keep on writing.

Anytime you put yourself out there--creatively, interpersonally, or professionally--you are taking a risk. You're taking a risk that people won't like and/or understand what you are putting out into the world. You're taking a risk that you will offend people and be rejected, insulted, or misunderstood. That can be scary and intimidating. But that type of fear and intimidation are the same things that make O.H.M. a compelling hobby for me and that seem to make O.H.M. resonate with lots of people. 

My only comment on that is three words long: It's worth it.


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