I write from the depths of a sleepless night. It’s been unsettled of late, between working on my thesis and my partner’s trip, and the two have conspired to leave me lying awake with a whirring mind.
The previous post finally drew something I’ve been half-expecting since I stopped writing about novels I’d read and started writing more personally and more opinionatedly.
It drew a troll. The person was on the mild, unintentionally hilarious side of the scale, but a troll nonetheless. The peculiar thing is, it wasn’t even for the blog post – it was for the tweet announcing it. He took a brief statement, declined to click the link, and decided to inform me of just how little he thought of me in a stunning set of logic leaps.
I won’t reproduce it here; the exact nature of the exchange isn’t important to my point. What is important the way it demonstrates the willingness some people have to react on knee-jerk impressions, and worse, to stand by them when called on it. Writers court this kind of attention every time they commit to publishing. It’s fascinating to see it in action.
What’s more fascinating is that I botched the post, and that slipped under the radar. In trying to call out the unexamined cultural attitudes behind a statement, I screwed up in editing and it came out reading like I was calling out the person who said it. I’ve now made the edit, but too late to avoid making that person feel like a jerk.
The post, I chalk up to the need for better self-editing. The tweet still baffles me. I’m not sure what I could possibly do to improve a total stranger’s willingness to engage in reading comprehension, or prevent them from reading into it what they want to. 140 characters isn’t a lot of text to parse; it takes longer to compose an angry response than it does to reread and make sure that response is warranted. There’s also not a whole lot I can do about people who insist on foisting their unsolicited judgements on others, beyond call them out on it.
And yet, there’s the niggling worry that the next one won’t stop at ‘feminism has ruined you’.
I’m not an Anita Sarkeesian or Rebecca Watson. The problem is, I don’t need to be to find the #mencallmethings hashtag suddenly, painfully relevant. The backlash against both women, and many others far less high profile, has shown time and again that all I have to do is keep writing, and keep hitting post.
Self-censorship is an ugly thing.
I don’t intend to stop writing. It’s how I work out ideas, how I exorcise and analyze the incidents that get under my skin, how I talk about the things I’m passionate about without driving the people around me any further to distraction. The doubt is there, though, wondering what will finally tip the scale from friendly curiosity to hateful barrage.
There’s only one way to find out.