Don’t Read the Comments
Scrolling through the Twitters this morning I saw someone pose the question, “What’s been your worst experience as a writer?” I’m sure a lot of people would say getting rejection letters or even hateful comments on their work. I immediately knew my answer.
“Constantly holding myself back for fear of the comments I might get.”
That’s the worst. Beyond any actual hateful, derogatory, insulting comments I have gotten. Being afraid of expressing myself because it might make someone mad, hurt or offended is my Achilles heel.
I’ve written scads of articles in my head and then jumped to defending myself to every negative comment I can conjure, determined to have an answer for every would-be naysayer until I stress myself beyond my breaking point, shut down, and write nothing. Repeat.
This sucks, man. This is no way to pursue any endeavor. But I discovered a solution.
Don’t read the comments.
Done! Lemme tell you the weight lifted off my shoulders.
I’ve been writing pieces as if I’m submitting them for the world’s approval. As if I’m looking for validation my opinions are right. As if I’m asking permission to believe what I believe.
“Is this OK? Did I do good? (well) Is it OK if I feel or believe these things?”
It’s as if I’m specifically asking for a critique. And I’m not. Ever.
It’s not that I don’t expect people to voice their opinions about my opinions. I do. It’s more that I don’t have to accept their judgment, feel bad if they disagree, or tear my hair out at people who just don’t get it.
Ever read the online comments on… anything? Good God, people go to crazy town and lose their ever-loving minds. I just don’t need that, man.
I don’t have to be concerned if someone doesn’t like or agree with my piece. I don’t have to please everyone. I don’t have to hold back my truths and thoughts and experiences because it might rub someone the wrong way. I don’t have to change anyone’s mind.
I don’t have to care! That’s mind-blowing.
I’m developing a better relationship with comments. I don’t want to never read them again. The vast majority of comments I receive are glowing and humbling. Many disagreements aren’t even rude.
It’s comical, entertaining and mildly annoying when people find me on Instagram and send me, what I’m sure they consider to be, “vicious” DMs and emails about who I am as a person or how they think I look.
And even a comment on a six-year-old stand-up comedy video of mine on YouTube. Digging deep to try and get me with that one, dude.
A fairly reliable way to know if a comment here on Medium is going to be good or bad is to see if the commenter has highlighted and/or clapped for the piece they’re commenting on. If they’ve done neither, they probably don’t have anything positive to say. Ignore!
For me to be concerned about a comment on something I’ve written I would have to respect the person who wrote it. Always consider the source.
I don’t have to call out everyone who said something I don’t like, draw attention to them, and scream into the ether how offended my delicate sensibilities are at those mean people! Some stranger can say all they want. I don’t respect you or your opinion. Bye!
Great inspiration can come from all manner of comments. Jessica Wildfire wrote a piece inspired by opposing opinions to something she’d written. I got fired up with new ideas in reaction to some comments on my work I read today!
But I’m not obligated to defend or justify my articles to… anyone. I’m not obligated to reply to the hate or criticism. I don’t write with the intention of getting feedback and that’s where my mind shift comes into play.
My intention is to express myself, not get approval.
Anything you share with the public comes with an engraved invitation to comment on it and I support and encourage everyone to do that.
I don’t have to take it to heart. I don’t have to hold back. I don’t have to care.
This freedom is tasty and I feel the floodgates finally opening.
Stand back, boys. There’s a storm coming!