I know this is going to come as a shock to you naive little Gloss readers out there, but people can be mean on the Internet. In fact, in other dirty little corners of the interwebs, life can get downright cruel.

Obviously, I haven’t had too much exposure to all that nastiness, having stayed here in the wonderful B5 sphere for my admittedly short writing career. (One year and going strong, yay for me.) While cranky people appear from time to time, there are normally really awesome and supportive people to call them assholes. And if those supportive voices don’t materialize, I like to call my mom and ask her to step in.

Then, I made the mistake of branching out into the less civil or intelligent corners of online discourse. Let me tell you that it was an eye opener. I got called literally every horrible name I can think of. And quite a few that I couldn’t think of if I had a million years to come up with insults. Seriously, our country is not lacking for creativity when it comes to weird ways to offend and insult people we don’t know very well. If we could export that, our economic troubles would be over!

But during my recent battle with inhumanly cruel commenters, I realized that writing on the Internet has taught me a very valuable lesson. Somehow, through being called a femi-nazi and a faux feminist, through being insulted as a terrible mother and an obsessive mombie, I managed to develop an actual thick skin. With all those people telling me just how I’m ruining the very fabric of our nation, I finally realized that the opinions of total strangers mean absolutely nothing.

For years now, we’ve all been lamenting the anger and vitriol of online commenting. Super astute observers have told us that people will say mean things anonymously that they wouldn’t normally say to your face. Don’t ask these brainiacs to explain it further; they’re late for homeroom. We writers have commiserated with each other behind everyone else’s backs, privately rolling our eyes at angry people who rarely make sense.

Little did I know, all that hatred would serve a purpose. I’m proud to say that after a year, I hold absolutely zero regard for public opinion. I’ve learned just how quick-to-judge and illogical the majority of the population is. That lesson has set me free when it comes to actually considering what random people think about me or my opinions.

Obviously, I want to help others achieve the same level of “I don’t give a fuck” as I have. I recommend that everyone hire a group of people to viciously attack them every day for a couple months. You might want to throw in just a couple of people to give honest and insightful observations every once in a while as well. Without those, the consequences of this training may be a little traumatic.

I promise, after months of insults occur, you will begin to ignore what judgmental people say. You will forget to worry about the opinions of those you will never have a face-to-face conversation with. After all that anger, you’ll simply trust your gut and accept that other people won’t agree.

I’m not saying that every person who disagrees is mean and hurtful. Of course they aren’t. And it’s good to engage these people in conversation. Intelligent discussion is always positive.

But it would be insane and ridiculous to pretend that every angry commenter is a just a thoughtful person who happens to see differently. Some people are horrible and they’ll say really horrible things. It’s kind of good to know that over time, we stop worrying about what these rude and possibly troubled individuals have to say.

So thank you, meanie-kins. Thank you for teaching me to trust my own opinion. Thank you for reminding me that following my own beliefs is way more important than convincing others to join me. And thank you for giving me the confidence to say that I no longer care exactly what it is that makes you so angry.

(Photo: SodaHead)