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Writing An Article Is One Thing; Reading The Comments Is Another

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A few months ago, I submitted an article to Thought Catalog. After weeks of waiting, and checking my email, and waiting, and giving up, and secretly still waiting, I at last got an email saying that it was going up. Pure bliss and self-satisfaction quickly followed. In my complete elation, the only thing I could think about was who I would tell first? Or if I would tell no one and just let it hit the internet like a golf ball on a windshield? I chose the latter.

When the article finally went live, I was at work. I have the convenience of working at a computer, so I couldn’t help but to reread it every two minutes after it was posted, constantly refreshing the webpage. At first, I was just looking to see how many times it was getting shared on Facebook and Twitter. 32. Refresh. 38. Refresh 41. Refresh. It was around 50 that I got the first email saying a comment had been left on the article.

I had forgotten about comments. What ensued was an emotional roller coaster.

The responses were mixed: a handful of applause and another more painful handful of snarky insults. I watched as they both battled it out in the comment section, good versus evil, love versus hate. I was holding my breath the entire time, reading every single syllable, re-reading every punctuation mark.

I literally felt my heart race as someone doubted the accuracy of my opinion, followed by a quick sigh of relief when someone gave me props, whether merited or not. I was learning something brutally important in these moments. I was learning that it doesn’t take guts to write something, but that it takes a whole bucket to let strangers read what’s been written.

I still often share the one comment which stung me the most at the time: “clearly written by a privileged white girl.” Ouch. How does one even respond to that? First of all, I am a privileged white girl, so, fuck. Second of all… fuck fuck fuck.

The biggest struggle of the evening was choosing not to respond to any of the comments, to not even give an anonymous thumbs up or thumbs down, to just let it exist as its own separate entity. I watched the article vigilantly for the following 24 hours, and like a paid-off referee witnessing a blatant foul, I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

After a few days of email notifications, the comments had finally seemed to cease. My Facebook share numbers were static. The dust had settled. I was careful not to disrupt it, hopeful that the trolls had moved on to something else.

I still check back on the the article every month or so to see if anything new has been said, silently watching it for any sign of activity. The web is a fucking battlefield. And just so I can say it first, this article was clearly written by a privileged white girl. TC mark

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