I got my very first computer around the same age most kids get their first bicycle (I imagine… I never actually had a bicycle). I used that computer to explore and indulge in hobbies that interested me, many of which were deemed “boyish”. In other words, I’m not exactly new to this whole “internet” thing, or the unfortunate amount of hate, vitriol, harassment, and abuse that seems to be everywhere today. It’s not a new thing. It’s not even new to me. I suffered a lot of torment before I wised up and started hiding the fact that I was a girl: I played StarCraft with the most masculine ID I could come up with to avoid harassment I’d receive if I played as my own gender. I used manly sounding tags in chat rooms and on message boards. I even got a “manly” email address. While that may have spared me SOME of the abuse I might have otherwise taken, it didn’t shield me entirely. Hell, I was once responsible for a band having to take down their entire message board due to the overwhelming amount of threats and insults lobbed at me by someone I apparently pissed off somehow. But all of that was different, all of that pales in comparison to directing hate towards something I’ve created rather than me personally.
Today I received a piece of hate mail regarding my new novella, The Terminal. Well, technically I guess it was sent last night, but I read it today. I have to admit, it hurt. I was tempted to post it here. If I’m being completely honest with you, I was tempted to post it here in it’s entirety, email address and all… and then criticize the grammar. But what would that really solve, honestly? It would draw attention to hurtful, ugly words. It would spread – maybe even condone – the vicious contents of that email. It might even help other people of a similar mindset find me. I don’t want that. I don’t want others to read, or be hurt by, the words that someone typed to me in anger.
Not everyone will like my work, be it this book or the next. Not everyone will respond to my characters, appreciate my style, or enjoy the way I construct a story. I can accept that. I do wish that maybe someone wouldn’t say awful things to me because of that. But this is a world full of freedoms, the freedom to express your opinions, even if they are cruel, hateful, and/or downright mean, and I have to accept that, too, and move on. I have to suck it up, shrug it off, and get to work on the next one. And maybe, just maybe, the sender of that email will read that one. Maybe even enjoy it.
Have you gotten hate mail? What did you do?