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.