A couple of years ago, I was writing holiday-themed articles when I decided to write one about the history of gelt. Since Hannukah was just around the corner, I thought it was appropriate.
I'm not Jewish, but I spent plenty of time in my late teens and early 20s in a synagogue (in other words, I went to temple every week) just because I was curious about Judaism and Jewish culture. I met some amazingly warm people and had a lot of fun. I was in the process of converting to Judaism until I moved away. Later, I realized that while I loved the people and the culture, I didn't have the same beliefs. However, I felt I was immersed enough in Jewish culture to write on it from the eyes of an outsider. So, I published my article.
A few days later, I received a comment that tore me to shreds. This person accused me of writing regurgitated garbage just for the sake of luring traffic from search engines. "I bet you're not even Jewish." His evidence was that I knew nothing of Jewish culture, because I used the word "menorot" and everyone knows it's menorah.
He ended his rant by saying that I was what was wrong with the Internet.
Image: Benjamin Ragheb via Flickr
Even though my usage of menorot was correct (it's the plural form of menorah), I was devastated. I was what was wrong with the Internet. I stopped writing. I would write an article every few days and then, all of a sudden, it felt "over" for me. I unpublished every single article I'd written. Immature, yeah, but I just wanted to be alone for a while.
Maddie, a moderator on the site for which I wrote, contacted me and let me know that she knew what had happened. She assured me that the guy obviously didn't know what he was talking about and was just flying off the handle. This cheered me up a little, but I still felt upset by it. He was right. I wasn't Jewish. Was I wrong on writing on that topic? But Maddie said something that really stuck with me: As moderators, we get the same stuff, but more of it. A user once threatened to perform an exorcism on me.
This made me realize that there are just those kinds of people out there. By putting myself out there, I'm subject to all kinds of criticism. Do I want to hide in my room all day or do I want to do the things I want?
It took me a little while to get a thicker skin. I deleted his comment. It made me feel really bad about myself, offered nothing constructive, and was factually incorrect.
Weeks later, MSN picked up my Hanukkah gelt article and featured it in an article about the holidays. That definitely made me feel better, and I eventually started blogging again.
To this day, I'm really careful not to publish things that might gather hateful comments. Sadly, I almost NEVER write about my personal life. I'm so jealous of bloggers who can do that!
You'd be surprised the comments you get from a tame blog, though! Once I wrote a restaurant review. I said the sushi was good and the service was great, but the table was really wobbly and sticky. I got a comment saying, "You are stupid and have no place in politics."
On another site where I didn't have a profile picture or any real way for people to see what I looked like, I got a comment saying I was ugly.
With those, you have to just laugh!
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