Yesterday I found myself the subject of nastiness on a snark site. It's happened to me a few times, but these words have been the most biting, making me question myself, even though I know none of it is true! Reading this stuff punches you in the guts. It makes you question yourself - your writing, your intent, your worth. It makes you censor yourself a little. And even though the discussion about me was only a few paragraphs, I've sadly focused on that over all of the good things people have said. I'm not perfect, and I know I'm outspoken and assertive at times - I've had to be. There are writing styles, behaviours and opinions I am not a fan of too.
The thing is, when someone criticises 'your work' and justifies it that they weren't criticising you, they're wrong. Because work that is about you (and other issues), that you spend a lot of time on and that you're proud of is YOU.
This snark/trolling behaviour is often kept quiet - but it happens to many of us frequently. Recently, a few bloggers I know have written about their experiences. People behind these anonymous profiles often have no idea about what else is going on in a blogger's life, or how their words will impact them. And they believe their criticism will help the blogger improve.
I challenge you to tell someone how awesome they are - so that's what they'll remember about today. Spreading love feels much better than spreading hate.
Perhaps I shouldn't give the snarker more airtime, but it made me feel better to write a response, and use my own space to address them.
This is what someone wrote about me:
"Surprised to read the praise of Carly in this thread. I think she's one of the most narcissistic writers I've ever come across. She has no time for any opinion but her own and is as judgemental as all get out. Perhaps she gets a disability pass? I don't get it. Her writing isn't any good and all she does is self promote – she clearly sees a career path in being a OMG special snowflake public speaker for disability rights. Except she's lacking the intellectual rigour of someone like Stella Young and she's as boring as batshit.
Nope. everything she does is for self promotion. She's into anything that gets her head up there as the poster girl. Including that meet up – if you go back through her blog there are online support groups and camps that she attended for years. This was an exercise in "I'm awesome look at meeeeeeee"
She doesn't take sponsorship, but she takes paid speaking gigs and that's her endgame. TV exposure, writing for DiVine and the public displays. They are calculated and I wouldn't mind that if she wrote at a level beyond that of a sixth grader or articulated an intelligent intellectual debate around disability in this country (ie: Stella Young). But she doesn't – it's all Carly, all the time.
Happy to politely disagree, but IMHO she's one of the most self serving bloggers out there and she uses her disability and the disability community to self promote and boost her profile; which I think is just as disgusting as using "Red Balloons for Ryan" or pimping out your kids."
And here's my response to them:
My blog has indeed boosted my profile. Sometimes I pinch myself, wondering is this really my life. It was always my goal to get into the media as a news journalist or documentary producer - I never intended or expected to be telling own my story in the media. I'm glad I have though, because it's done wonders for my once fragile self esteem, given me amazing opportunities and has helped others with Ichthyosis, other facial differences and disabilities feel less alone. I've made many close friends and learnt so much about disability. And it's nice to receive a little play money from my writing and speaking - it helps to save for the wedding and holidays. Click away if you hate it so much.
The Ichthyosis meet was certainly not all about me - 75 attended and 25 of those were affected by the condition. I did the bulk of the organising though. I can't speak for the attendees, but for me, the meet was long overdue, and has put me in touch with wonderful people around Australia. I only attended one support group's camps, and for those I was an adult mentor. Of course I wasn't able to post pics or details of the members on my blog - that would have breached privacy. I link to online support groups - not all that I'm involved in - so others with Ichthyosis can access them.
I used to be on community TV (unpaid), very few watched the show. Glad you watched though! I do a few paid speaking gigs a year but I can't quit my day job to survive on speaking gigs! I haven't written for DiVine for years - and the editorial guidelines meant writing was simplified significantly - which might explain me supposedly writing like a sixth grader. I write for other publications now - you might have seen my byline on Fairfax news sites. My writing style is generally simple though.
You mentioned Stella Young a couple of times - she was a friend of mine and I admire and reference her work a lot. She's one of the smartest people I know, and taught me so much about disability politics and pride. I could never compete or compare myself with her.
I'd love to explore Australian disability policy in my writing (for example, funding, the NDIS, abuse in care) but working as a public servant prevents me. I also don't have the time - working full time, boosting my ridiculously inflated profile and planning a wedding, plus managing my condition means I can't write it all. I do write a lot about disability media and the issues around exploitation of people with disabilities. I even wrote about disability poster children - interviewing people who have been involved in disability charity advertising, funny you should mention it.
Being seen as narcissistic is always something I'm concerned about (and hope to avoid), and I hope to always share others' opinions where I can. But my blog is mostly my story. I expect since you last read my blog, you haven't seen that it's moved from a personal diary to more op-ed pieces - and most of these feature more than just my opinion in them. On the front page of my blog at the moment, there are three posts that are not "all Carly, all the time" - including a guest post. There are also many links to other bloggers and opinions throughout. In May I give up my blog for others to guest post - last May there were 46 posts from people other than me. I paid others to edit them, even. And even if it was all of me - that's what a personal blog affords. Bloggers can make a blog all about them, or not. And I'm sure you'll agree, it's better someone with a disability writing or speaking about disability issues (and being paid to) than someone without. Happy to be just one of many people in the disability community doing this. Why do you think people with disabilities telling their stories is disgusting? Is it because you're uncomfortable seeing us in a public arena, being paid for our lived experiences?
I'd love to see your writing on disability debate - do something productive with your time instead of whinging about me. Since when was politeness tearing down someone you don't (or do?) know on a snark site? A special snowflake is the last thing I want to be. I hope you're only referring to the way my skin falls when I get undressed - just like snowflakes.
I'm going to enjoy this day - make it all about Carly. Because it's been a shit week, even without your words, and I deserve it.
And I won't stop writing.