Do Tell, Michelle: It's Not Me, It's You
Nice to meet you; I’m a woman on the internet.
For many, that means that you can hurl abuse in my direction, and I’m supposed to take it, because ‘I deserve it’ for simply existing in an online space.
It always baffles me how, more often than not, the trolls take ten times as much time and energy on my page than people who truly love my posts. Not only will they take the time to comment, but also to argue with other people in the comments. Sometimes, if they’re particularly invested, they’ll go through my entire feed until I press that glorious block button.
It baffles me, because it must be draining to carry around so much hatred, especially so much for a person they don’t even know.
But here’s the thing: they don’t actually hate me. They hate what I embody and they see me as a target for all the principles and values they can’t stand, whether that be body positivity, self love or simply just me being inclusive. Sometimes all that I embody to them is a person who is mixed race and has a brain that works. Whatever it is, it annoys them. The amazing thing is they think it’s about me. It’s not.
They haven’t met me, I’m not in the same room as them. If you can have such a vitriol reaction to someone who you’ve never even met, then maybe you should stop for a moment and question what it’s truly about.
I mentioned this in one of my mid-day reminders and spoke about how this can actually be used as a tool for self development. Here it is –
Exercise time! Jot down the three people in the world that you despise the most. If like me, you don’t have the energy to hate anyone, then choose three fictional characters that you dislike. Then, take each person individually and name three characteristics that you dislike about them. Those characteristics will actually tell you more about you than the person you’re writing about.
When I first tried this for example, each person came up as selfish. Why did selfish annoy me so much? I realised it was because I was selfless, but to the point that I resented those who made themselves a priority. As a result, I became quick to label them selfish.
Another example so you get what I mean: did you call someone stupid? Perhaps you aren’t patient enough.
These were the examples I used at the time and in response, one of my followers replied: ‘Mine came up as stupid but I’m very patient with people. This doesn’t work!’
My reply was simple: ‘So out of curiosity, when you are having a “stupid moment”, how patient are you with yourself?’
Then I received another reply: ‘But what about Trump? Surely, he’s just a disgusting human being. He’s arrogant, misogynistic, racist, homophobic. I’m none of those things.’
But here’s the thing: Trump doesn’t know you. Trump has shown time and time again that he doesn’t care what you - or the rest of the world for that matter - thinks about him, so who is your hatred of Trump hurting more? You or him? More importantly, how are you channelling this anger? If it’s going into you becoming more politically engaged and empowering you to be more vocal in your activism, brilliant. Or is this anger just derailing your mental health? Have a think about it.
At the end of the day, no matter how justified your hatred is, I want you to ask yourself one question: Does this hatred serve me? If not, get rid of it.
It’s very simple. If you're someone who engages with my posts and sees my beauty, then that beauty is within you. However, if you see me as a delusional woman, naive to her own self-hatred, then that’s within you too. If the latter sounds like you, I would suggest you give the aforementioned exercise a go; you never know, you might just learn something today. Learn to channel your emotions towards others in a positive way. Besides, are you not just exhausted of trolling already?