On any given day, I get a fair number of Internet trolls going after me on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Sometimes, they might even leave nasty emails in my inbox. It’s become a routine part of my job, which is to curate content for Upworthy, often on tough topics like racism, misogyny, and other social justice issues that brings out the Internet lurkers.
But while it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity of my job, I often realize that I don’t pay as much homage to the people who are there for me at every step of the way. I don’t simply mean my family, my co-workers, and my close friends — I mean the people I have never met in real life. The people who take the effort to fight back against the trolls on my Facebook page, who help me realize that no matter how terrible the online comments can get, I’m not alone.
The people who private message me about a piece of content I curated, and thanked me for the difficult topics — especially on sexual assault and feminism — that I focused on.
The people who write me things like, “I always thought it was my fault for not fighting back,” “I didn’t know that was a human response to react to sexual assault,” ending with “Thank you for posting that video.”
The people who help me realize that the Internet trolls are often just white noise, and why would I listen to white noise instead of the meaningful comments? The people who help me realize that as much controversy as my work might generate among deniers or apologists, it also brings good to others.
These are the fans who validate the work I do everyday, and also the people who help spread the content I curate — and that other co-workers of mine curate — to the furthest nooks and crannies of the Internet.
Every now and then, when one of these wonderful messages makes it to my inbox, I’ll archive them — but first, I’ll take a screenshot. Something about having a folder of screenshots with supportive messages to look at when I’m feeling down gets me through the day. In fact, every creative person — writer, journalist, graphic designer — should try this everyday.
But even when you receive positive praise, the insecurity is always there. That’s something we all have to learn to live with, and it’s hard, but it’s necessary. When you feel you aren’t worthy of praise, try to remember your favorite messages of appreciation from your fans, your followers, your supporters. Read through them and know you are appreciated. Read through them and appreciate those who appreciate you.
___________________________________Andrea Garcia-Vargas is a curator at Upworthy, a website that makes content that matters go viral. She is obsessed with social justice and spends a good portion of her day tweeting about the issues she’s most passionate about. When she’s not digitally amplifying things, she’s involved as an organizer for Columbia Alumni Allied Against Sexual Assault and improving campus conditions for rape survivors at her alma mater.
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