About a month ago I shared a post from my travel blog on Facebook. As these things go there were mostly favorable comments. But one in particular stood out to me – a young man who thought it necessary to take 20 seconds out of his day to let me know the post was rubbish, because who wants to go to Asia anyway? That’s not where Jamaicans want to go. Because apparently there was a vote and he was made spokesman for the nation.
It was the first time I had ever gotten a negative response to content I had shared online. That could be because I’ve always played it safe and only shared my work with people I knew to be supporters. But this time I stepped out of my comfort zone and promoted the post to a wider audience. There was risk involved in widespread sharing I’d come to learn.
My initial knee-jerk reaction to the comment was to delete it and suspend the post so it wouldn’t reach anyone else. Because what if other people felt the same? What if they weren’t afraid to say it?
And then I caught myself. How many people had actually read the post? I checked the stats and it was about 453. How many of those 453 people hated it enough to leave feedback? How many people actually found it useful? Is the one negative comment worth depriving everyone else?
In the end, it was a very small social experiment I believe inadvertently designed to teach me a lesson.
While the act of creating is difficult, often times the act of sharing can be even more grueling. When we share the results of our creative labor we have to detach ourselves from the outcome. We have no say in how people receive the fruits of our labor – whether they love it or hate it is not up to us. We open ourselves up to criticism, cynicism and ridicule; but that’s the price of choosing to lead a creative life.
We have one job and it’s the act of making. Everything else happens beyond us and we have to make our peace with that.