Developing That Thick Skin

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 by Alex R. Cronk-Young

I've never taken well to criticism, and when writing online that's kind of a big issue. The real issue is that I blow things out of proportion and perceive them as an insult when they likely weren't meant that way. This unhelpful character trait would have likely helped to cripple my advancement into adulthood, were it not for Zoe coming along and helping to talk some sense into me.

It really helped having someone I trusted and loved around that could convince me that my perception of the world around me was much worse than what was actually happening. I needed to stop being so offended by things and flying off the handle in response, because it was only hurting myself. Prior to her I'd always sort of known I needed to stop taking things so harshly, I just couldn't bring myself to change. It was much easier to fall into the trap of believing that everyone else in the world hated me.

Though, that little issue likes to pop it's ugly head up from time to time and if I'm not careful I buy into it for long enough that I go off on someone and start a feud. Here's the thing I've noticed about the Internet. For someone like me, it's even easier to misconstrue something as a personal attack even if that's not at all what it was. When my wife and I text each other we have a code for when someone gets mad at something that wasn't meant to be mean. If she asks if tonight is alright for us to go visit my parents, and I respond with, "Fine" because I don't have anything else to say about it, but she reads that as, "Ugh, that doesn't work at all but fiiiiine, whatever!" and texts back that I don't need to be snotty, well, I just respond with MTMT. Misreading Text Message Tone. "MTMT. I actually am fine with that."

That sort of thing is common when text is your only means of communication, and it has led to more than a few situations online that I am now embarrassed by. I've come to realize I am never in the "right" when it comes to arguing online. It is impossible to know every detail about the situation, and I have likely assumed the worst about the person with whom I'm arguing.

Besides, there are two major hurdles to having a writing career in the online world. The first is actually being able to write, and the second is respecting and being friendly to people. You never win an Internet argument. Even if your assumptions of the person were correct, you were the asshole for bringing them up when you don't truly know for sure. And you might be able to make something of yourself if your self esteem is high enough that you can really sell your writing to people, but eventually acting like you're better than other people or flying off the handle and attacking others that you don't even really know will come back to bite you in the ass one day.

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