Sunday, March 2, 2014

Being a Sensitive Person on The Internet

I wrote an article. That article went viral. It was controversial…I guess. People had strong reactions to it. When I wrote it, I didn't think about what other people would think. It was about getting my feelings out. Writing is a form of catharsis for me. It always has been and always will be.

What I wasn't prepared for is how I would feel when other people disagreed with me. I'm fine with people having a differing point of view from my own. I have a difficult time handling it when people attack me for having an opinion. The reason is that I'm a sensitive person.

Being sensitive is challenging in itself, but when you combine being sensitive with becoming a public persona, it's a whole different ball game.

When someone says something negative about something that I've written, it hurts. People have told me I have to develop a thicker skin. Well, they're right to an extent. However, it's difficult not to feel hurt when someone tells you that "you're an asshole" or "you've hurt your innocent daughter by writing what you wrote."

Yeah that shit hurts. I'm not going to pretend it doesn't, because I would be lying to myself. And I'm about being honest with my emotions.

I need to find a way to honor my sensitivity without letting it take over. I don't need to be obsessing over what other people on the internet (that I will never meet in real life) think about me.

I have my friends and family who love me and support me. That's more important than some random haters.

I know these things are true, but in that moment when I read something negative about myself online, it still stings. I take it personally, because writing is a personal act. Writing is a huge part of who I am. My words and I are connected in a deep way.

I wonder if there are any other sensitive writers out there who can relate to this.

Are you a sensitive writer? How do you cope with being sensitive in a public forum?


  1. I am definitely a sensitive writer. I have had a troll that purposely stalks all the things I say just so they can say mean things about me. I was once told I would make a terrible dog owner because of my "lack of follow through and disability". My parenting has been called into question and my husband has been target too. I think its the same person saying it all but it doesn't make it any easier!

    I don't really do anything, it does get to me.

  2. Not an uncommon problem! Airing your views and exposing your emotional and intellectual self beyond the controlled radius of those who share your values comes with the risk of encountering people whose values and interpersonal dynamics are entirely incongruent with your own.

    Take it as a compliment that your words ideas have had the potency to spread so far, ignore the vitriol, and never, ever fight back. It isn't worth shortening your life by the time it takes to argue with someone who isn't going to listen, and you will never win.

  3. You're right Justin. It is a compliment. And great idea about not arguing back.

  4. Don't worry about what others think too much. People are hypocritical, I saw some humor in what you wrote. As a parent of a toddler I prefer honesty from other parents over social niceties and politically correct censorship we get stuck in. Who hasn't swapped stories of our own spawn not being perfect? They are hilarious, usually after the fact.
    People always want to judge but hate being judged, so what are you going to do?
    The Trolls will always be there, if it's not you, they will target someone else.

  5. You're right. I need to focus on myself and not worry about others

  6. I've changed my entire view of this situation for two reasons. First, I've raised four children and know the ability to "humorize" the exasperating, yet astounding experience of helping them grow up healthy is essential. And, I'm a blogger. If you haven't already, you'll arrive at that point where your truth is more important than how people respond to it. It doesn't require you to lose your sensitivity, but it does require conviction. As for the "asshole" post, I don't think people are out of touch with their true feelings or humanity or sense of humor as much as they perhaps were startled by this characterization of a small child in print. When it was us, we "shared" over the phone or at lunch. But here's the thing - however people view your framing of them, your experiences drew a tidal wave of response from your own community. Style aside, you've established relatability. If you blog, you're gonna need that. Shoulders back, march on. You have more in common with the "old school" than you may think.

  7. I don't want to take away from anything you've written here, but the pain is worth it. Please permit me my analogies. :) What’s a sword without a fire? Raw ore without a crucible? The things you continue to express, and how you express them, are good. They are useful and valuable to you and others. Whether or not that is your purpose, you're a beacon of truth. You shed light on darkness like the sun. When sleeping eyes awake to the sunrise, it hurts. The sun is raw. It's abrupt and overpowering, unapologetic and unrelenting. Eyes look away. They feel impeded and attacked. But their room is lit. It's warm. They can see their way around obstacles, better navigate the thorny brush. Nobody can tell you to stop feeling pain, worry, fear... but the thorns start to hurt less when you have a few scars.


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