One of the things that’s been the hardest the last two weeks is to watch people twist my words into something completely different, effectively missing my entire point.
Particularly when they use that twisted version to imply that I am against something I’m for, or that I’m for something I’m against.
No one likes to be misunderstood, particularly when it comes to things close to your heart. It’s been hard to watch people say ugly things about me, but it’s been HARDER to watch people align me to things I don’t want to be aligned with, don’t believe, or don’t endorse.
The urge to go on the posts and comments that are talking about me and defend myself and my beliefs has been really strong, but it’s an urge I’ve resisted, knowing that it doesn’t MATTER what I say. This is the internet. Or, as my husband likes to say, “Relax, it’s only the internet.” I’m never going to convince the people who have decided they know what I meant that they got it wrong. Because this is the internet, where no one is ever wrong.
I don’t think these people are trolls, I just think they read something I wrote and either misinterpreted it or couldn’t help but put their interpretation onto it. And that’s one of the challenges (to me) of writing, in general– can you convey YOUR meaning, or will the reader’s meaning overshadow yours? Clearly, the better writer you are, the more you can bring people to see what you meant your words to be, but even the best writers will have meanings they never wanted attributed to their work because people are people, and an individual’s experiences will color their view of just about everything.
And it’s hard to have your words misinterpreted. It’s hard to see people put words in your mouth, and ideologies in your head.
But you know we all do it. I know I’ve done it, and even though I’m not the kind of person to badmouth other people online, it doesn’t mean I haven’t put my own meaning–a meaning that twisted the intent of the original–onto other writers. Heck, let’s go back even beyond the web–I remember sitting in an English class in junior high arguing with my teacher over what the author of a book was trying to say, because based on MY experiences the book meant something totally different. (obviously, I was a terrible English major later.)
There are times to try and defend and explain your words, and there are times to let it go–and heaven knows I probably get that choice wrong a majority of the time. But the more interesting thing to me is working on using my words better in the future, so I leave less room for interpretation. Working on clarifying my ideas better. You know, basically, becoming a better writer.
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