“Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate”
Let me start with a story — a real one.
My 11-year-old daughter is an avid writer. At the age of 7, she wrote a poem on the painting The Scream by Edvard Munch in her school. That day she came home trying hard desperately to conceal her tears. Wiping her tears off, she told me how hurt she felt because not a single child in her class clapped for her when she recited her poem, although she clapped for each of them, although she found those poems really ‘childish’.
She wanted to encourage everyone but she did not get any in return. The teacher called her a star, but apparently, no peer encouragement left her feeling sad and devastated. It hurt her so much so that after a few more tries, she gave up on her writing for good.
Now those were little kids, who most likely didn’t understand my daughter’s depth and emotional maturity that was reflected in her writing, so I get it when they didn’t show any appreciation or encouragement for my daughter, But we are adults. I fail to understand why so much hate between writers goes on around here in Medium.
A few days ago I read an article here in Medium by a top writer of a famous publication about why she wouldn’t follow the new writers and she has her reasons: if you don’t have a bio blurb, if you don’t have a photo or if it’s rubbish, and if your name is an email.
I am intentionally not including a link to her article here because spreading hatred against someone is not my idea. Besides, I learned from writer JJ. Pryor in his article that the algorithm loves engagement and more comments and views will only highlight that article and I do not wish to give it any undue attention than it is needed already.
Apparently, it’s not the only article where I read negativity. In this article, writer Robert Ralph highlights how he has been bullied by another writer in Medium. It’s absolutely uncalled for. Instead of bashing what we hate, life would be much simpler if could instead give each other some lift – in the form of empathy (and not sympathy). Here are my pointers:
Living BIG: Boundaries-Integrity-Generosity
Brene Brown writes about living BIG in her book Rising Strong: “What is the hypothesis of generosity? What is the most generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions or what this person said?”
Life can already be hard, for some of us at least, and we have no clue why a writer doesn’t have a real photo, or the name is an email address or a pen name or there is no bio blurb. Perhaps the writer wants to hide their identity for any reason known to them, but should I care? Should that decide if I want to read an article or follow that writer? I thought it’s the writing that’s important – if I feel drawn and connected to the writing or not is all that matters.
Bias divides us
It’s actually a bias if we automatically assume that if a writer doesn’t have a picture or a good blurb, or a writer with less than 100 followers is not good at writing or not professional. This bias coming from a top writer on mental health is an utter shame. A writer on mental health, should at least, be aware that there could be so many situations that the writer might have to go through and show some compassion instead of being judgemental.
It’s also a bias if we think of a new writer on Medium as a new writer. A writer may be new to Medium but perhaps is already a seasoned writer.
Perhaps the writer doesn’t write here for the money, or is a parent and has other responsibilities. Perhaps it’s just an outlet for that person, or perhaps it’s a place to be your authentic self without having to undergo all the judgments.
A very good article by writer Jessica Bianchi (her pen name) in this article states why she hides her identity. Another writer Zullie Rane states beautifully in this article about her reasons to hide her real identity.
As a mental health writer myself I would use positive psychology. Instead of using a negative and clickbaity title like ‘why I wouldn’t follow new users with less than 100 followers’, can we not rather write something more positive and constructive like ‘3 ways to increase your followers’ or ‘5 ways to improve your algorithm’?
Our roles (and hence success) may get swapped
The said writer starts her article with “I was at the dawn of 2021 where you are now”. You see, our roles may get swapped. I was once a successful technical writer who had the opportunity to work for multinational giants, earned a great salary, lived a life of comfort, traveled the world.
However, at some point in life, I gave that away partly because of my health and partly because I wanted to devote my entire time to raising my daughter. Starting afresh a few years later, even with almost a decade of experience, was a hard struggle.
You never know what the future holds for you, so what we have today can be snatched and we might have to start all over again. So never feel so boastful about your success – rather use your talent to help others.
It’s not a race
There is indeed no race between new and old or established writers. We don’t have to compete with each other. We can rather complement each other and learn from each other. It’s more important to become a better person than to become a better writer. I have read in many articles here in Medium how they hate so many editors or big publications based on how they have been treated, except for some small publications and people like Dr. Mehmet Yildis. I have started reading his articles and I find his greatness is reflected in that.
Writer Carrie A Kelly writes in this article about why the publication New Writers Welcome is so awesome and goes on to share her great experience with the kind and helpful creator of the publication, Robert Ralph.
I mentioned about Kindness boomerang in this very first article of mine in Medium, where every random stranger performs an act of kindness to the other and it comes back to the person who started it.
I didn’t quite believe it until I experienced it first hand. Writer James Wilder, a total stranger to me, left 50 claps for my article which got hardly any view. I had to stop for a moment to realize that this person, who doesn’t know me, took the time to clap for me not just once or twice, but for 50 times. I felt humbled, I felt appreciation for his so very kind gesture. I am forever grateful to him.
We are all different and our situations are also all so different. That doesn’t give us the automatic permission of being judgmental and expressing negative opinions about others. Granted feedback is important, but feedback and criticism are not the same. Let’s not attack each other or try to show our superiority over others. Let’s encourage each other, support each other, give our constructive opinion when it’s needed. Let’s spread kindness to each other and create a kindness boomerang. Trust me, the kindness will come back to you.
As for my daughter, fortunately, last year, they had a poetry and language unit in school where they were forced to write poetry and fiction as their assignments, and here again, my daughter started writing as if she never stopped it. This time the encouragement from the teacher was significant enough that my daughter didn’t want to hide her light anymore. Besides, the kids have also grown up as well, so this time many of them showed appreciation to her writing. One of her poetry found its place in the school newsletter as well.