Originally posted on Medium, Apr. 2016 – Updated Mar. 2019
Everyone has limits. Opinions from anonymous a**holes and trolls are one of my limits.
Yes, you read that right. Perhaps I could say ‘Assholes are like opinions’, but you know how the saying goes and those who know me know I say it like it is. I refuse to sugar coat this, and you’ll soon understand why.
I sat for days, trying to think of the best way to write this post. I needed to get it right and get the point across, correctly. I kept coming around the same simple point: We all know someone who is an asshole with an opinion about everything and must make a point of making sure the whole world knows it, no matter the cost. Usually, we see this in the form of publicly condescending and bullying comments and reviews about a specific person, mentioned by name, in the way of character assassination. We all know this is just a very long-form definition of classic narcissism and insecurity. But why?
Why do I have an issue over this?
I firmly take issue with the individual who must make his annihilating opinions public. Let's be honest and call them trolls. Trolls are those people who make a habit of going out of their way (feeling qualified and entitled) to write nasty personal attacks or comments online.
This behavior is an example of bullying and always from a ridiculous pseudonym and fake profile photo. I take issue with a troll feeling compelled to leave burning-desire-asshole-opinions on open forums; Always in the form of complete and total character assassination about another human being. The best part is they are always strangers.
Human beings who have families, friends, and sometimes children. The targets are people who own a business and trying to live their life. Good grief, lest we forget their feelings.
I sat for a long time wondering what to call this kind of person. Let's be honest: it is something bigger than being a troll since the vile they sling poison at the wall and cannot be deleted. One usually can't respond to them.
What it is that makes all of this incredibly annoying, painful and irritating? How do we find the words to describe this behavior? I have an idea, but I must warn you, it's a candid expression of my feelings:
Complete and utter shit oozing from the underbelly of an empty carcass that might have been the soul of Satan’s road kill after being looted by a dying wildebeest suffering from rabies.
Whooo. I feel better getting that off my chest. But I digress.
What opinions inspire me to write this?
Alright. I’ve got absolutely nothing to hide (which makes me the perfect target). I'm going to lay it all out there because that is the point of this entire post.
The internet frequently destroys the innocent.
I’m not naive. I work in the industry and am aware the internet can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Putting yourself and your work into the world with intentions and hope for good results is our first thought.
However, when you put yourself out there, you ARE vulnerable (despite good intentions) and inevitably fall victim to anonymous trolls. Taking chances and having the self-esteem to take chances is how we work to become successful. I believe we learn from every experience.
Enter the Podcast
I was the co-host of a free podcast with a colleague inspired by our history of lengthy conversations about design, freelancing, and experiences both good and bad.
I am not a celebrity, and I never want to be. I admit I have terrible stage fright and simply wanted to have fun, and share what I knew, as well as learn in the process.
Women make great targets.
As a woman, vulnerability and putting yourself out there is different from men. Our FREE podcast content was published and put out there for the world to choose whether or not to listen to and use.
Sharing experiences in hopes of receiving [positive] feedback, a few more followers interested in hearing more, supportive emails, and HOPEFULLY, helpful “constructive” criticism. Perhaps receiving responses to episodes to create a dialogue with the audience will occur.
When we saw increased listens, downloads, shares and even received positive emails or subscribers, we were excited. We felt great about what we were doing. I’m not talking about going to the extent of hiring a team of people to field a barrage of messages or anything, but you get the idea. The podcast grew, and it felt good knowing we weren’t doing it wrong. We thought we were getting something right, so we kept at it.
Could we have done better? Hell yeah. I know I’m not perfect. I freely admit I am infinitely flawed. If there weren’t ten things I haven't even slightly screwed up before noon, it would be a miracle! I'm not talking about catastrophic errors, but just general mistakes from which I learn. I knew I was doing my best. I’m real. I say it like it is, and I’m very much aware that not everyone will love me (and vice versa). Way it goes.
What’s the friggin’ issue about opinions from these assholes?
Here we go. Here’s my goddamn issue.
I'll do my best to pepper this will as much of my everyday humor as I can to get the point across. This is how I feel about the situation. I have no motive for lying or holding back. I don’t know another way to express it:
There are people in the world who have very little (if any) self-esteem. I will leap and say suggest some of these people still live with their parents. They may be too afraid to take chances to do something like the proverbial ‘jump off the damn cliff and do it already!’ risks.
Perhaps, some of these people are stuck in a dead-end job they hate, not working at all, or miserable knowing they haven’t taken many chances in life. They know they aren’t doing anything exciting in life. It kind of makes you feel bad for them just thinking about it, right?
Eventually, someone becomes crazy-mad and spews their asshole-opinions filled with envy, jealousy, rage, or whatever the hell it is I can’t even find the words to describe. Maybe they are a narcissist who must put other people down, pointing out what they perceive to be [personality] flaws to feel better about themselves.
I’d bet on the latter.
I am okay with this because when I read this crap, the comments written have no relevance to what is being commented on or reviewed. Ironically, the character assassination is aimed directly at me, the female half of the duo. Hmm.
I have to wonder if this isn’t complete and utter hate for women, women in any form of power, or women with more experience. All of whom are colleagues in this scenario. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
Details. Details. Details.
When you work hard and do your best, you feel great about it. At least, you feel great about knowing you did your best and put your work out there. That’s the situation here. We do our best, and we put it out there. ALL FOR FREE.
Is the work worthy of a Nobel Prize? Meh. We’re do not record in a professional studio. We record over Skype. Many of the earlier recordings' audio is sub-par, at best. We know, and we are aware of it. We never claimed to be experts. We essentially offered our experience, advice, and perspective on what we know (and don’t know) on a free show — no sponsors, commitments or promises. We never said we were anything other than professionals trying to make a living and share what we know. That’s the bottom line.
It’s a free podcast, the content is there, slightly disorganized but we have a great time. We’ve received a lot of feedback, albeit mostly private, expressing gratitude, or via seeing an increase in subscribers and listeners. We enjoy the conversations, always try to improve the quality of the recordings and look forward to the show each week. That’s enough for a successful day in my book (other than waking up every morning and my feet hitting the floor).
After two whole years and more than 50,000 plays of our 60+ episodes, receiving a review such as: “I couldn’t even finish one episode.” makes me laugh my ass off.
This jerk admitted he could not finish ONE episode, yet he felt qualified and compelled to take time out of his life and out of his way to locate the review and comment section, log in, find the podcast, and leave a negative and irrelevant comment or review? That's what you call a valuable opinion?
Guess what? Thanks! You told us how much we impacted you so again, thank you!!
Yet, that’s not even what bugs me, because clearly, that’s a bullshit review that any intelligent human would disregard the same way they’d ignore a review on a lightbulb set left on Amazon with 1 star rating which reads “This is stupid, it has no instructions” or “These are horrible. They aren’t the right watts I need”. Um, do I need to elaborate?
What IS baffling (and please note carefully: I have in no way been crying about this on my pillow until someone comes in a white jacket to take me away), is the person who feels the need to write a lengthy review based solely on me, my personality, and my thoughts. He hates the sound of my voice. He hates my sense of humor. He thinks I don’t know anything about design or what I’m talking about. He can BARELY finish an episode because he basically can’t stand pretty much anything about me. This goes on and on.
Cue the laughter because you have to admit, the above description is hilarious. At least to me, it is.
Of the sixteen written reviews, six have been negative and specifically attack me personally. SIX. The rest have been very complimentary, supportive and positive. (Thanks folks!) There have only been a few of these out of the more than 50,000 podcast plays we have had, so clearly, okay, I’ve left a review or two in my life on the iTunes store, and it’s a pain in the ass. I appreciate the effort anyone goes through even to take the time to go that far, so thanks for listening and letting me know that you must be thinking a lot more about me than you’re willing to admit. Thus, I am extremely flattered!
Despite having bared my soul putting my identity out there, sharing personal experiences publicly (good and bad) with other designers, I hoped the podcast might help and reach someone.
Trolls who leave these character assassinations have anonymous usernames, and there is no way to respond or engage with them. I would be happy to chat with people to better understand what is on their mind if something is wrong causing what I describe as childish outbursts. I am amused they didn’t bother to reach us using our very easy to find a website, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. They strategically chose a method that would be nothing more than character assassination to the female half of the duo. Very telling.
What I could never understand: Why the fuck are you even listening, dude? Do you know how many things I’ve tried to listen to, disliked, and turned off without giving it a second thought before moving on to something else?
I get it. For some reason, you don’t like me. That’s okay, and I’m still alive and breathing. I will survive. I bet I wouldn’t like you either. If I was a betting woman, and we met in person, if we were to talk about the things that bug you, you might start picking on my height or weight or some other insignificant detail that has nothing to do with anything relating to the show, all in an attempt to make yourself feel like a big man.
I am amused.
I can handle a negative review if the audio sucks. We know it happened. We were there. We’re not thrilled about it but sorry (not sorry), we’re working on it. It’s getting better. Thanks for the feedback.
I can handle a private message from someone trying to engage in a conversation and allowing for the opportunity to create a dialogue gain a better idea of what’s on the person’s mind. Thanks to those folks, we’ve had fun getting to know you!
Between constant attacks against “the female” of the duo, and calling me out by name including unnecessary insults about traits I can’t change, make me laugh. It reminds me of Jimmy Kimmel’s popular segment “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.” All were about the celebrity for the sole purpose of realizing how fucking ridiculous it is to post them in the first place. It's as if the person is trying to say, “I’m a nobody underachiever, and you’re an Oscar-winning actor or actress, but you’re so ugly, and I hate your face!” That. That’s why I laugh. Because while I never suggested I’m famous or some celebrity, I did something with my life, and that counts for something.
Any person with an ounce of self-esteem would typically not leave a nasty review. Why be nasty leaving an offensive comment about a person on any site providing a free service and insult a stranger by name? Shouldn't it be required they show a photo of themselves and their name?
When an anonymous username is shown, and a photo that is not a photo of a real person is used, the comment and insult become null and void. I mean, who the hell are you? If I can show you my face, why can’t you show yours? Are you afraid of something?
What’s the point?
Here we go. The point? There is NO reason to be afraid of someone else who is doing something you are not doing. Especially if it's someone you may consider a competitor. Learn from it. If you have a better idea, do that. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. Don't read it. Don't look at it. No one is holding a gun to your head. It's that simple.
YOU found the podcast, and YOU pressed play. YOU made a choice. If you didn't like it, that's okay. It's not for everyone. Just move on. BUT, there is never a legitimate. reason to publicly insult your peers. This behavior makes you appear fearful and envious. Don’t humiliate someone expecting it makes you look cool. It doesn’t. It makes you look like an asshole.
I am quite grateful for the whole experience. It’s made me 10x stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I know I am doing something right if I pissed someone off during my creative work. And if someone is compelled to call me annoying or shrill or not funny…good! I got through to you. I penetrated your brain deep enough that you just HAD to write it down and let me know. Thank you. You make me laugh. You make me a better person. You make me grateful.
In summary, Opinions are like Assholes. We also know, some assholes have shitty opinions.