The Screen Is A Shield

Using the screen as a shield and the keyboard as a dagger, written words have the power to pierce the flesh and bleed a person dry.  They can also lift spirits and elicit joy, elation, and a warm sense of home.  But some words, words written with the bitter spit of bile, they can cut the flesh and tear at the heart, scratch at the mind, make a nest and live there, itching away at the surrounding gray matter, never letting a person forget.

Cruel words slice and burrow, take up residence, become “you’re a waste of time”, “no one loves you”, “you’re worthless.”  They’re heavy and unforgiving.  They pull on shoulders, buckle knees, and hold your gut in their fist, twisting and turning, squeezing with rage and sadistic pleasure. Typing these words is effortless.  They flow from your mind, through your arms, out of your fingers, onto the screen.  Send.  Publish.  Tweet.  Comment.  They begin as feckless text, meaning only what the reader chooses to interpret them as meaning.  From there, they come to life.  Take one part callous, false bravado, hidden behind the safety of the internet, mix with a mind harbouring an inkling of doubt and insecurity, give it time to stew, simmering at 210 degrees.  That’s when those words breathe life.

But for every one heartless, thoughtless idiom, there is a legion of supporters urging you to keep going, to spit out the poison and grow.  Out of the doubt that fills your mind comes motivation to push through, to use those vicious words as inspiration and to become a stronger writer, parent, person.  Our skin can thicken, but it will never be impenetrable.  Eventually words may begin to wick from our skin, but we still read them.  They still bristle against our nerves, if just for a moment before we brush them away, and it’s that touch that can give our own words energy.  We then try harder, reach farther, stretching our muscles and simply get better. 

If you don’t think you’re as good as you can be, than you’re probably not.  If you think you can grow, grow.  Work.  Practice, don’t publish.  Practice, publish.  Use the negativity brought on by people whose parents never taught them that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and to “treat others as you would have them treat you” as motivation to become who you have it in you to be.  Doing so is not conceding defeat or admitting that they’re right.  You’re telling them that you’re a bigger person than them.  That while they’re busy slinging shit, you’re striving for perfection.

Words can hurt.  Take those damaging words and make them your bitch. Pardon my French.  And those people who clearly work so very hard at beating other people down in order to make themselves feel better about being a horrible person and whose parents didn’t love them enough to teach them how to be decent human beings?  Fuck them. 

Pardon my French.


I am participating in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. Each week I’ll be tackling a challenge issued by another writer participating in the exercise. This week, Billy Flynn gave me this:

Out of the doubt that fills my mind…

This post isn’t about me or anything that has happened to me personally.  It’s about people who have forgotten how to be nice and who have forgotten that the internet is populated by people with feelings.


25 thoughts on “The Screen Is A Shield

  1. It’s crazy to allow unkind words from a stranger to have more credibility than supportive words from people we know and love but most of us have done just that at one time or another. With time and determination we can develop enough trust and confidence in our own abilities to ward off negativity but it takes patience and, for me at least, patience is the scarcest of all useful attributes. Excellent and thought provoking work.

  2. This could be the blogger or internet writer’s Magna Carta, couldn’t it?

    My first internet experience was a radio station message boad, not a blog. It was a brutal introduction to trolls, sociopathic personalities and immaturity. I didn’t handle it well.

    My first blogging experience – a myspace music blog from 2005 to 2007, was bittersweet. I loved the writing, i loved the subject matter, I hated the interaction. But i learned that if I wanted positivity given to me, I had to grow up and project positivity as much as possible.

    Good post. Bot only as an answer to a challenge but also as a reminder to those of us who put ourselves out tehre how we should handle it.

  3. You’ve put on the screen all the stuff that goes through our heads as we put ourselves out there. It was like looking at yourself from across the room struggling and then seeing the light. You brought it home with a great message and some fine French. I really enjoyed the post and think I will give it another read!

  4. Pingback: The Week In Review: July 25-29

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