British Gas Diving National Cup 2014 - Day Three

British Olympic diver Tom Daley came out last year in a Youtube video, saying that he was in a relationship with a man. Unfortunately (and worse, unsurprisingly), he received a wave of homophobic bullshit spewed from the horrible depths of the Internet, especially on Twitter. Artist Conor Collins decided to take all the vitriol and repurpose it with a different message–he created a beautiful portrait of Daley comprised of the tweets.

There’s a lot about this that’s lovely, but the most striking thing to me is the idea of taking the hate-filled negativity from the angriest, most pathetic individuals on earth and making it into something beautiful. Daley looks strong, purposeful, confident, and at peace in the portrait.

It’s easy to say things like “ignore them” when it comes to vitriol aimed at you, but in reality, brushing off negativity is nearly impossible. I don’t know how people live their lives without absorbing or internalizing negative comments, but I suppose it really only matters what you do with it once it’s a part of you. If I’m interpreting this piece right (and guys, did I mention I went to art school? More like fart school, am I right?), it’s saying that people like Daley exemplify the idea of taking undeserved negativity and using it to become stronger. Sounds pretty admirable to me.

The internet is a remarkable invention (and my workplace!) but it’s naive to think that it’s all positive. Hate-filled, ignorant people flock to each other and find validity in their ideas, and they have a voice.Social media gives us unprecedented access to both normals like us and celebrities, who get notifications on their phones every time some low-life calls them a slur. It’s easy to get caught up in the overwhelming negativity of the Internet. But I love seeing displays like this–when people dig into the worst parts of humanity and then turn it into something awesome. Even a sour soul like me can get on board with something like that.

Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images