Once upon a time, I used my tumblr blog to write about a topic about which I am passionate but which also happens to be one of the biggest controversial topics in the nation right now. I didn’t write about it because it was controversial, I wrote about it because it personally affected my life. With all the passion and zeal bubbling up within my soul, I poured my heart out.
And the lovely people of the Internet responded with empathy, concern, encouragement, and acceptance. Oh wait, I forgot: that’s not how the Internet works, how free speech works.
I forgot that you can say anything you want on the Internet, as long as your opinions agree with the official media-sanctioned opinion. If you have the audacity to express a divergent opinion, you are attacked. Viciously, ruthlessly attacked.
My inbox was flooded with messages accusing me of hate crimes, brainwashing, illiteracy, stupidity, smoking weed, being a miserable excuse of a human being, and innumerable other horrible, untrue things. These accusations came from people who did not know me, yet they felt they could make these judgements about me and my character.
At first I kept those messages as reminders of why these things needed to be talked about, why I was so passionate about it. Those posts fueled me.
But as time went on those comments began to weigh more heavily upon me. I began posting less and less about it. Now I hardly ever write about it. Why?
Because now those messages serve as a different reminder. They remind me that when I talk about this, people are cruel, that writing about this hurts. They remind me of the periods of depression induced by being subjected to others’ hatred toward me.
And the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” could not possibly be more wrong. Words have the power of life and death, wounding or healing, and a person can only stand up under an onslaught of words for so long before she is crushed and destroyed.
This isn’t a fairy tale, and my story doesn’t end with, “and she lived happily ever after.” But hopefully one day I will have the courage and strength write about it again.