Ariel + Editors,
I was hoping you could give me a little feedback on my (and maybe others') concerns regarding the submission of content for the Offbeat Empire.
I was married less than a year ago and have been meaning to submit my wedding for consideration to be posted on Offbeat Bride. It may be in the near-ish future that I can see myself submitting content to Offbeat Families and Offbeat Home and Life as well.
However, with the recent hateful post on another site regarding a lovely wedding featured on Offbeat Bride, I'm a little afraid to submit ANYTHING. I know that the internet is a public place and we can't control what others see or how they behave. But, I can image how devastating it would be to submit my life to what I consider to be a loving, supportive, community — only to have another website pick it up and openly mock and chastise me and the choices I make.
Do you have any tips on getting over this and ignoring the hatefulness should it materialize? Or is this simply a matter of 'if you don't have a thick enough skin to withstand this, maybe submitting your life for all to see isn't for you?' I'd hate to not participate in a wonderful community out of fear, but I don't know if I could let this type of potential hurtfulness roll off my back.
Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.
Hey, K. I'm not sure if you've seen it before, but I actually wrote a post last year about how to deal with it if your wedding goes viral. Many of those same lessons could be applied to other situations where something you share on one website, in one context, gets shared on some other website, in a very different context.
Ultimately, however, I don't have a magic bullet for you. Like any form of sharing, there's a balance of vulnerability with community support. Any time we reveal a piece of ourselves to anyone (whether face to face, or online) we're taking a chance. As you point out, we can't control the response to what you put out there. The best you can do is balance how much you reveal and how you reveal it so that you feel as safe as possible…
This is a super hot issue for me personally… I started blogging in 2000, and did so very publicly for almost a decade. I dealt with all sorts of internet abuse — a dedicated reader who commented on every single post that I was fat/ugly/stupid/whatever, another reader who emailed my then-boyfriend (now husband) inventing elaborate stories about how I was cheating on him (!?!), rad-fem bloggers writing epic essays about how I was a bad feminist, etc x 500. I developed a super thick skin over the years… but ultimately I decided that I needed a more private space to talk about more vulnerable issues without worrying about being attacked, so I made my personal blog members-only. (It's still chugging along, with about 100 monthly readers instead of 2000).
Only you can know your own comfort levels. While my editors are committed to protecting Offbeat Empire contributors from hateful comments and snark on my websites, it's a great big internet out there… and there's nothing I can do about the other people, other than to urge you to ignore them. That's all anyone can do.
I'd love to encourage you to contribute — there are ways you could do so, like using a pseudonym, not revealing overly personal details, etc — but ultimately only you can know your own comfort levels with the exposure.