I’m Exhausted (Part II)

On bad online behavior, including on Medium

This morning I took several hours to pen a long, thoughtful, and what I honestly thought was a caring response to an article that I read last night. The writer expressed great sadness and frustration, discussed a host of challenges and what it felt like to be low.

I have been there a thousand times over. I get it. What they said hit home.

This person asked for ideas, and what we do to dust off.

In the genuine spirit of being of service I set aside a host of other deadlines early this morning and put my heart into a response. Three hours later I had my piece. At that point, especially since now I was three hours behind in my other work, I didn’t think to send it in an email. I just posted it in the comment section. In fact, I frankly forgot we had an email connection, which for me is extremely common. After 21 concussions, I drop details like that all time. No ill intention behind it. If anything, lazy. I was in a hurry to get back to my deadlines, which are still waiting.

It’s Just Life.

Then a few minutes later I got a very unpleasant email accusing me of trying to win fans, or promote my story as it was put, by placing the article in their comments section.

Not only was that categorically wrong, but the thought had never occurred. I regularly love to lift other folks’ material, share and support it. I like linking to other’s stories in my articles. This accusation was not only way off -base, but it spoke to the anger that this person is carrying at Medium in general. They fear having eyeballs taken off their material.

Talk about scarcity mentality.

I struggle to interpret the message any other way, but I could be wrong. We often are, when we’re dealing with emails. Still.

Anyone who has read a few of my articles is likely to notice that I do my best to tag and support other authors. I own my mistakes, which I did in a return email to this person. By the same token, I am no longer willing either to tolerate ugliness on Medium (including my own, thank you), nor am I willing to tolerate it in a private email.

This is why we have email settings and the Block option.

What would have been a slightly more healthy and respectful email would have been to ask me what I had intended (to which this person is not privy), point out the impact, as they saw it, of my actions, and allow me to make changes. That at least allows the possibility that I did something I didn’t intend to do. Or in this case, I had no idea my action could possibly have been perceived the way it was.

Not what happened.

I did of course remove the link.

And I also blocked this person and asked to be removed from their publication. We are definitely not a fit.

It is a fact of life that we all spend time frustrated and angry. The problem with social media platforms is that if we’re not careful, and I have by God done this more than I care to admit, we can cascade our sewage on others.

This person had complained bitterly about rejection, then handed me a butt-ugly one the very day I had invested a solid morning in doing my best to offer supportive, caring thoughts towards their request for ideas.

I don’t even know if the person bothered to read the damned article.

Here’s the piece: I have compassion for the pain that led to their original piece. I also have compassion for the kind of pain that would lead a person to personally attack someone without doing their due diligence.

As I said in the offending article,

Sometimes the fickle bitch (the Universe) puts shit in our way because it’s goddamned well time to stop doing what we’re doing.

If you don’t like rejection, then here’s a shocker: don’t hand it out. Don’t just cascade the same shit you get onto others.

Assume good intentions. Ask first, don’t attack. You and I aren’t privy to anyone else’s inner world. Hell, we hardly understand our own. I’ve made that mistake far too many times and it has cost me. Which is why I do my level best not to do it any more. I’m not always successful. But I at least do my best to clean up my messes.

Are there bad operators on Medium? Of course. They are everywhere there is social media. However if Medium is going to continue to engender gracious discussion, then we might want to avoid operating out of such abject fear that someone’s posting a piece in our comments section- something that we can get rid of, by the way- might swipe an eyeball or two. This causes us to go ballistic why exactly?

It’s fractions of a penny, dude, get a grip. Just get a fucking grip.

Besides, I have plenty of folks who like my material, and if I get new folks it’s because I’ve earned it by writing something people find of value. That happens less often than I would like which is precisely why I completely understood this writer’s frustration.

However.

It’s damned hard to engender support if your first reaction is to bite the hand that offers it.

This is a rich, valuable, supportive and terrific community. I have built friends and connections that I treasure. I have also made mistakes, some of which I have publicly apologized for (deservedly). We all do. I value feedback, I treasure the private comments that point out a mistake or a “misspoke” if you will, and the gentility with which people assume that I want to do better. Of course I do. Which is why I will make changes. That is one of the great gifts that Medium offers: gracious feedback.

The number of online communities where kind, adult, respectful interaction takes place is rare indeed. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I might ask that if you see something that troubles you, try not assuming anything. We’re largely doing the best we can with what we have, and an honest mistake is just that.

A mistake.

Not a federal crime.

To (lovingly) rip off my buddy Ann Litts, Namaste.

Written by

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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