Thicker Skin

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When I was a TV anchor, thick skin was a requirement. Over and over, I would repeat to myself, “You can’t please everybody all the time.”

People would call the station to complain if I cut my hair (or when they thought I needed a trim), if I wore red, if I smiled too often or not enough. When I met someone in person, he or she frequently said, “Wow, you are thinner/prettier in person.”

Something about putting yourself out there means people are allowed or invited to share their thoughts, specifically of you.

I haven’t done TV for a few years, but am clearly “putting myself out there” on my blog. Until recently, I haven’t had a comment that really stung. Most of my readers (I smile and says thank you!) are opinionated, but kind and generous.

I even did a post about two months ago about some of the hatred I had seen online—and how truly baffling it is to me. Now it is my turn.

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post about one of our family pictures (that I had posted online) ending up as an ad in the Czech Republic. I found out because a guy I went to college with now lives there. He just happened to see it as he was driving down the street. I posted this story because I think it is INTERESTING: 1) I didn’t know pictures were being taken from the Web and used in ads 2) what a small world!! What are the chances I would know someone in Prague—and that same someone would drive down that very street and see the picture?

Within a few days, my post was listed on Digg, Reddit, and a whole bunch of others. Thousands of people stopped by for a visit—hundreds of them had something to say. A lot of people shared similar stories, offered suggestions on what I should do, or merely said, “Wow! Who knew?”

However, quite a few were horrendous and nasty. I’ve been called names I hadn’t heard in years.

Seriously? You Digg my story? You stumbled upon it? And you just felt compelled to tell me my husband is the unluckiest guy in the world because he got “stuck” with me? Or that he is ugly? Or something even more hideous about my kids? You think I’m a terrible mom for posting family pictures? I’m a moron for not knowing this could happen?

And best of all, you with the big and nasty words—you hide behind your anonymity. You leave fake websites and fake email addresses. Why? Because you are a coward. You hide behind your computer—somehow this makes you feel powerful. Strange.

So I posted an update on that post. I clarified the things people seemed to find most confusing. And I mentioned I would be happy to approve most comments—as long as they related to the story. Even if you think I’m a moron. But I won’t approve hatred. I won’t approve pure nastiness—especially if it is aimed at my family. Because, well, I don’t have to. And clearly, those comments lack a little something—like a spine.

I saved my updated post. I stopped reading the list of comments on the other sites. I zip up my third and fourth layers of skin and head out the door to play with my family.

And, yes—I do think my kids are beautiful. And I do think my husband is hot. 

And it is okay if you don’t.


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