I’m learning to deal with all this, apparently. (It used to alternately cause insomnia and nightmares.) I was completely desensitized to hearing my friend being called a coon, which, if it’s your first time, is incredibly upsetting. It wasn’t until my Facebook feed alerted me to follow-up responses that expressed anger and outrage over this insult that I realized how used to all of this I am.
But like most people who deal with Internet harassment, I rarely talk about it. I’m just supposed to be solely grateful that people know my name and bother to read my work, and that’s all that should matter. So I shut up and play the part. Occasionally I save the really good hate mail (NSFW) to whip out over cocktails and appetizers with friends, like, “OMG! You will never believe this one!”
I think of it as the equivalent of an emergency room doctor horrifying her friends with stories of the wild things that happened on the overnight shift. Everyone who’s listening—unless also in the media in some way—is shocked and weirdly intrigued at the depths and density of the unadulterated crazy in the world.
Maybe some unfortunate day you will experience this for yourself, since anyone on social media can be launched into a national conversation at any time. It happened to Karlesha Thurman, the young woman who dared to breast-feed her hungry baby at her college graduation and then post a picture that she in no way could have expected to go viral.
It happened to Alexis Carter, the teen who became the subject of Rihanna’s ire when she had the nerve to be inspired by the celeb’s red-carpet look and got clowned for her prom attire in a meme that went viral. It happened to Rachel Jeantel when she just so happened to be on the phone with Trayvon Martin when he was killed and she was later called to testify in a nationally televised trial.
Each of these young women was berated mercilessly across the Internet. Thankfully, all of them survived it (no easy feat)—unlike Scott. Hopefully you will, too.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. Follow her on Twitter.