As I was scheduling guests for this series on Courage, for some reason, I kept today open. I might want to post something myself that day, I thought. Nothing seemed to be jumping out at me, so I had something drafted to fill the spot. Yesterday, I learned why my muse, angels, spirit guides or whatever it is you believe helps guide our decisions, caused me to hold this day open. I read about Lindsay Bottos.
Lindsay is a art student in Baltimore, Maryland. Let me first say being an artist of any kind takes courage. Written, performing and visual arts all involve taking part of one’s soul and exposing it to public scrutiny. None of us want to hear negative comments about the works of art, into which we have poured our souls. Still, sometimes criticism can be constructive, helping us to grow and improve, but other times it is just mean-spirited. Before the digital age, with the exception of professional critics, artists were insulated from some of this. If someone didn’t enjoy a book, they might throw it away, sell it to a used-book store or tell a friend. If someone saw a piece of art they didn’t like, they shrugged and moved on. If they didn’t like a television show, they didn’t watch it.
Sadly, we live in a world where people not only have greater access to all of the arts, they also have access to the artists’ virtual ears. They have the ability to post any random thought instantly, anonymously, and in a huge variety of forums. Rude, snarky behavior is considered by some to be entertaining. These cowards who won’t even own their words, fail to recognize the humanity of the artist who has bravely offered a bit of their soul.
But Ceci, words are just words. They can’t hurt anyone. Just ignore them.
The fact is, words do hurt. Once they are spoken or written, once they are heard or read, they cannot be erased from our memories. The cruel reality is, for me at least (and by some odd coincidence, for Mairead, the heroine of Highland Courage) when I am at my lowest and most vulnerable, these ugly memories flood my consciousness.
Enter the heroic, the courageous, Lindsay Bottos. One way that Lindsay exercises her artistic soul is by taking selfies. This, as with any art form awakened the trolls. Only they didn’t attack the quality of her photos, they attacked her. They posted horrifically unkind comments, meant solely to hurt her. Lindsay, bless her, created a painfully beautiful work of digital art from this vitriol. She calls it Anonymous. I cannot describe it, you must view it.
“Let them see that their words can cut you and you’ll never be free of the mockery. If they want to give you a name take it make it your own. Then they can’t hurt you with it anymore.” –Tyrion Lannister, from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones
This is what Ms. Bottos has accomplished. I am awstruck.
What an uplifting post for today, Ceci. 🙂
Yea, this post should be posted everywhere!
Lindsay, I think that this happens to any of us who have ever had anything terrible said to us, about us. I know it happens to me periodically. It’s one of the things that I work hard to stay on top of. That monster is ugly and I stay as far away from ugly as I can. Thank you Ceci for sharing this with us. Thank you Lindsay for your courage also. I hope you remember that you are not alone! HUGS!!!
I am so glad you all recognize the power this young woman claimed and the courage it took to claim it. I wish I had just a small portion of what she has exhibited. I found this story on my news feed and sympathized. I wanted others to see her courage as well. Please feel free to share. I have sent the link to her and I hope she has the opportunity to read your lovely comments.
Wow, I’d never heard of her, Ceci. Very courageous young lady. It’s a sad truth about our society that snark is so highly rated and, obviously, can turn vicious so easily. And, yes, doing anything creative (and putting it out there), invites scrutiny and attacks. Back in the Dark Ages when I first became an author, we only had to worry about RT reviews. It is a different world now. There will always be a few writers who soar and seem to garnish no bad reviews at all, only high praise, never getting bruised. But the most of us get roasted and toasted on every new release. Sooner or later, you get dunked. So we have to focus on the good.
What is different for a career creative person and private person like this young woman is that we must keep our lips sealed and the cheek turned. Authors can’t slap back. If we do, the same people who attack us, pounce again, slamming us for daring to defend ourselves or fight back.
If someone tromps on my toes and kicks me in the shins as myself, in my private world, I will not accept such treatment and go toe-to-toe with them, standing up for myself.
If someone slams me/my work in a review, so be it. Shrug and move on, think about the many readers who do enjoy the books, etc. Life is too short is my motto in that regard.
Good for this girl that she stood up for herself.
Sadly, you are right. Although I would like to flip them off as Ms. Bottos has, we mustn’t engage the trolls. I wish I had teflon skin.
I am sitting here shocked at how nasty people are! Kudos to her and her strength!
Yes, I am appalled that there are people out there who feel it is acceptable to spew this kind of personal garbage. Like I said, I am in awe of her response.