I have had so many conversations with writers and social media friends about the very evil that is the Internet Troll. They show up, uninvited, to whatever party they deem worth raising a stink about and proceed to shit on everyone else's parade. I've seen it happen often, and sometimes, it can get pretty ugly. Many a strong woman has been reduced to tears and frustration over these little peons jumping in and saying very hurtful things about what the rest of us are all THIS IS THE MOST UPLIFTING STORY EVER.
The same goes for books and reviews. Take this scenario: A perfectly wonderful book is written and published and the writer is all I HOPE NO ONE HATES IT and does a little happy dance for every positive review they stumble across. But...because Life can never be served up without a giant side of ass, there's always gotta be The Hater. Be it some anonymous reviewer on Amazon or a scathing public review by the literary critics, it only takes one nay-sayer to totally crush a writer's mojo. The good one shake it off and keep going, but it's such an expected Thing that one of the most popular pieces of advice I see shared amongst published writers is to never read the reviews.
Normal people like to avoid the internet troll. Normal people wish the internet troll would stop finding things on the internet that piss them off for the mere sake of spreading hate and misery and calling people names because we are obviously all still in the fourth grade. Normal people call it a win when they publish a book and are only met with positive feedback form the public and when they share written words on subjects like sexuality, feminism, breastfeeding in public, attachment parenting, and body positivity.
Obviously, I am not a normal person.
Just the other day, I had the opportunity to publish a post near and dear to my heart on Your Tango. It was this one, highlighting my experience being photographed for the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. The gist of the whole deal what was that I got over myself and my body hangups, bought myself a new pretty bra and panty set from Lane Bryant, and stripped down to said new skivvies for the photo shoot. (Insert Book Plug Here.)
"This is probably going to blow up in my face." I was excitedly talking with The Husband as I made hotel arrangements. "It's going to be awesome."
"Huh?" He looked confused. This is not an uncommon expression in response to something I have just said.
"Pictures of a curvy woman in her bra and panties on the internet smiling and happy with herself always pisses people off."
"So you want people to jump in and tell you that you're a fatass?" He blinked. A lot.
"Yes!" I almost high-fived him for getting where I was going with this. "Trolls never travel alone. It's like they have to travel in packs to ensure safety in numbers while pissing in everybody's Cheerios. I just need one of these self-righteous, judgmental assholes to go off on me for having the absolute audacity to be happy with myself and my ginourmous ass and it's hello, viral fame! Tat's when the party's gonna start."
"Right," he nodded, "Here's to bringing on the trolls."
And I realized right then and there that if he asked me to marry him all over again, I totally would say yes.
Fast forward: the photo shoot was amazing. Lots of hugs and squees with my friend, Ashlee, the creator of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project. It was utterly amazing. And then I went home, wrote my blog post, and fully expected the world to explode in my face. The Haters bring the party, yo. I was not only prepared for them, I was expecting the trolls to Bring It.
And then, when I barely made an internet ripple, when only friends and readers commented and responded positively and with total and complete support, I felt like a complete fucking failure. It was almost as traumatic as the time we had a new tarp and axe delivered the same day) for splitting wood and protecting the pile from the weather) and the FBI never showed up to find out where we were hiding the bodies.
How nondescript does one need to be for the trolls to not even give a shit when I basically handed them the gift of a perfectly wrapped present of the next stick to get stuck up their collective asses? I WAS FAILING AT BEING INTERESTING ENOUGH TO TROLL.
Oh, the inner-turmoil. I wondered, only briefly, what my therapist would do with this insight into my mind.
Of course, I got over it and moved on. Fast forward again to a few days ago when Your Tango editors said they couldn't wait to re-publish the very piece that I had expected for the trolls to show up with motherfucking bells on to begin with. Bigger audience. Bigger platform. This was going to go viral for sure.
"I'm ready!" I told my editor.
"For" I imagined her blinking. A lot.
"The Internet trolls! I think I'll offer them virtual hater cupcakes and thank them for making me famous."
"You ain't doing it right unless you piss people off. The haters always bring the party."
"VIRTUAL HATER CUPCAKES FOR EVERYBODY!"
And then? Do you know what happened? Those fucking trolls had the nerve to leave me alone! Not one HEY FATASS COVER THAT SHIT UP comment. No one told me I was ugly and had ruined their breakfast. Not a single person told me to stop promoting obesity and unhealthy habits. It was all positive! Everything was coming up freaking roses!
I was crushed.
“It’s early yet,” my editor told me. “We haven’t even gotten the link on Facebook yet. I’m sure the trolls will come out of the woodwork once the link on on the page.”
“It’s like you know exactly what it is I need to hear.” I told her. I could have hugged her.
Hours passed. I got Eliana into bed, did the dishes, pretended I was working while wasting entirely too much time on Facebook taking quizzes about which Harry Potter character I am most like and what kind of French cheese I am, and The Husband came home from his swing shift. All the while, I stayed clear of my Your Tango piece because of that watched pots and never boiling thing. Trust me when I say that I’m surprised there isn't an outright epidemic of writers losing their homes to massive fires. It’s entirely possible for the refresh button to turn the most sensible of wordsmiths into drooling masses only capable of blinking and clicking.
I waited until the Husband was out of his work clothes and into his pajamas before I allowed myself one more peek at my stats. And I got crickets. Not a single troll in sight.
“Well, this is disappointing,” I sighed, dejected. “Everybody loves me.”
“It’s okay,” The Husband said reassuringly. “Don’t give up now. I’m sure someone will insult you soon.”
I smiled at him. “That’s one of the sweetest things you’ve ever said to me.”
“Would it help if I called you a fatass?”
I stared at him, my jaw hanging open. “What the hell do you mean? OMG YOU THINK MY ASS IS FAT?”
::Cue the laugh track as the screen fades to black::