3 Big Mistakes I Made Online

 In Kell's Blog

Shutting your mouth is hard, but keeping your fingers from typing and posting comments is even harder. When I first got started on the internet, I was befuddled and immature … and I made a bunch of mistakes.

Most of this happened in the dark days before Reveries, before I published books, and even before I was “Kellyn Roth.” (Yes, the pen name came later.)

You see, I really got my start on the internet through the Young Writers Program (YWP) version of NaNoWriMo (ywp.nanowrimo.org).

I was twelve or thirteen, just a kid, and honestly, I had no idea what was up.

It was a pretty safe environment (for some reason that changed after the switch to the new website, but I digress), and I really enjoyed it.

But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t space for mistakes. There’s always room for idiocy. So let me share my top 3 big mistakes I made online that I hope to never make again!

3 Big Mistakes I Made Online

#1: Arguing about stupid things … but completely seriously.

Now, arguing about stupid things in a loving manner is one thing. I support this. It’s good for friendships (says one of the founders of the annual Christmas in Fall Battle of Doom). 😝

However, arguing about stupid things completely seriously is just what it sounds like. Stupid.

I was involved in a bunch of “debates” at this time in my life which were pretty foolish, sometimes abrasive, and always useless.

At this point I also had an “If I have an opinion, it is truth, and it must be shared by you” mindset. For instance, I argued that boys shouldn’t wear pink & it was “kinda gay.”

Uh … yeah. Blame a mix of confused teenagerhood and never mentioning this opinion of mine to anyone before.

#2: Being abrasive about my beliefs.

Once upon a time, on YWP, there was the option to add a signature with a picture and some words or whatever you wanted which would show after all your posts.

Now, I always did a little picture then a tiny quote or some facts about me after it. Like, “author, blogger, sugar enthusiast.”

At one point, I used something like, “apparently homophobic.”

Yeah, that didn’t go over well. (Who would’ve thought?) I almost lost a close friend over that one until I apologized, explained my sarcastic but well-meaning reason for the statement, and took it down.

Of course there were also debates on similar subjects and a wide variety of others. But at that point I didn’t know to be compassionate and polite (always important no matter what you’re discussing) nor did I possess the wisdom to back down when a conversation was going nowhere.

#3: Thinking everyone was just like me.

Christian, homeschooled, conservative, brutally honest, easy-going. That’s me. But it’s not everyone else.

There were a wide variety of people on YWP, and frankly, I struggled with it. How do you even get along with people who are so different? Whose beliefs contradict your own in such big, scary ways?

It’s hard—and even harder for Christians who are instructed to remain above a lot of the things the secular world celebrates.

But I slowly, steadily learned to be kind and polite, to respect other opinions as someone not in a position to sway them, and to be a Light rather than another Black Hole.

It boils down to one thing.

All three of these points work separately, but in truth they’re just parts of my big advice for y’all on the internet: mind your words!

Think about what you’re saying. Reread that comment before you post it. Be polite, just like your grandma told you.

No one’s going to take you seriously, let alone like you, if you can’t control your words.

What about when you’re attacked?

A lot of cyberbullies, trolls, and plain nasty people exist on the internet. How do we behave around them?

I say, for the most part, don’t respond! I never did have this discipline for years, and I still struggle with it. “How can I NOT talk back? They’re such idiots!”

It’s an ongoing battle of self-control, one that you have to fight every day of your internet life.

Make a rule for yourself: whenever you get a cruel or otherwise offensive comment, take a moment and decide what to do. Don’t act on impulse. Think it through.

Does it get flagged for spam? Do you block that person? Or would it be helpful to discuss the subject (again remembering to be nice)?

Disclaimer: being nice isn’t the same as being a pushover. Stand firm in what you believe. I wouldn’t recommend bending on your opinions, either—after all, disliking Pride & Prejudice 1995 doesn’t make you less of a person. Neither do your values.

Yet … it could’ve been worse.

My sister has some particularly interesting stories when it comes to internet safety (definitely ask her about that). The things I did when I was a young idiot {still am a young idiot but shush} were pretty tame and turned out all right.

But I could have lost more friends. Could have gotten a horrible reputation. Could have struggled to get my career started because I was “that argumentative Christian girl.”

So I’m blessed—the mistakes I made online don’t follow me around. However, I’m determined to remain wary of my words and how they affect people, represent my faith, and reflect on me as a person.

TTFN!

~Kellyn Roth~

p.s.

Would you call these “big mistakes I made online” or just “stupid ramblings of a teen”? 😝 How do you respond to some of the nastiness you see on the internet? Have you ever gotten in a debate you later regretted? What are your thoughts on how words affect other people? And do you have any internet mistake stories YOU’D like to share?

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Showing 14 comments
  • Julia @Lit Aflame
    Reply

    Ah yes, this reminds me of my little plucky self some years back. Not on the internet, mind you, because I wasn’t on here until a little over a year ago. But I got myself in quite a few disputes in person that really…weren’t worth the effort.
    My mom always says, “choose your battles wisely” — it just took me a bit to learn that. XD Now, before arguing, I ask myself, “is it really worth it? Is this important enough to start up an argument about?”
    Most of the time the answer is no.
    Now that doesn’t mean I won’t stand by my beliefs or opinions on something if you ask, but for the most part, unless I feel like it really is important, I’ll keep my mouth shut unless someone asks me what I think.

    As for getting rude comments and messages, although I’ve yet to get any on my blog, I’ve had to deal with quite a few rude people on the online video game I play.
    If someone asked me for advice on how to deal with a rude comment, I’d say: (1) see the humor in it. Don’t just fly into the “I’m offended” mode, smile instead. Laugh. Awhile back I got a random message saying something like, “you’re as useless as a potato” ….. I read it, then I read it again, and then I laughed – I couldn’t help myself. X’D When I read it, literally my first thought was “I dunno man, potatoes are pretty important – just imagine a world without FRENCH FRIES or CHIPS. 0.0”
    Like seriously, that’s a terrifying thought XD I found that really funny for some reason.
    Yes, I have a twisted sense of humor.
    And (2) Pray for them: Whoever sent that rude comment is obviously not right with Jesus. Who knows what they’re going through right then? Every time someone says something ugly, I feel for them, because they can’t be a very happy person. So I pray for them, every rude comment or message, I take the time to pray for the person who sent it. Why should I let their comment offend me? Why should I get angry at them? I have Jesus! But them? They probably don’t, and even if they are saved – then their heart isn’t right with Him. So I pray for them. I ask God to bless them, to touch their hearts, and draw them closer to Him.

    Most importantly, when deciding whether to reply or not, or what you should say — just be Christlike, remember that every thing you say, every single word, matters. Those rude people? They need to see Christ even more. <3

    • Kellyn Roth
      Reply

      Yup, exactly! Like … how better to show people what Christians are really like than to ACTUALLY act like Christians. Not that it’s easy, but y’know.

  • kassieangle
    Reply

    Wait, what…? Kellyn Roth is a pen name?? It’s so natural, haha!! My dad had me well ingrained to be careful online before I ever got into blogging and things, which I’m really thankful for. And thankfully I’m also yet to get any mean or unnecessary comments on my blog—I’d probably just delete them, honestly, depending on the situation!
    #3 has been tough for me to learn irl, before I ever got online—I always had this mindset of, even if people weren’t exactly like you, they’d be understanding and make an effort, which is anything but true. That kinda rocked my 15- and 16-year-old (and even 17) world, but now that I realize that, it makes it a lot easier. And it makes it that much more of a blessing when people are like you and do get it!! 😀

    • Kellyn Roth
      Reply

      Yeah! My real name is Kelly Lyn Garrett, lol. Roth is my grandma’s maiden name. 😉

      Totally! I work in customer service-ish, so I deal with a lot of nasty people – kinda ridiculous how some folks won’t behave!

  • E.F.B.
    Reply

    Excellent post and advice, Kell. I’m glad I didn’t get active online until my very late teens and early twenties or I would have run into problems because of immaturity and not knowing how to handle people having different opinions than mine.

    I have a rule that I only engage in online discussion if I have enough familiarity with the other person to know they truly want healthy discussion, not hurtful argument. There’s just too much potential for hurt otherwise, and online, people can’t hear my tone of voice or see my face to know how much I care about them, and I can’t read their face or voice to judge when maybe they’re getting upset and it’s time to back off.

    Thankfully, I haven’t gotten into any debates I regret. My personal rule comes from observing other people’s meltdown fights, not experience with them. The only big internet mistake I can think of that I made was being part of a huge thread on a fandom site that was intended to be fun and I and the others who started it didn’t mean to break any rules, but we were all new to internet fandom and broke some forum rules by accident. (Sometimes people get hold of and spread illegal images that have been pirated from unreleased DVDs and you’re not supposed to share them on your favorite fandom site or the site could get shut down for having them. Who knew? I sure didn’t at the time, I was seriously that naive.) The mods had to step in, and someone said something that came off in a way they didn’t intend and people’s feelings got hurt and the conspiracy theorists thought we who participated in the thread were all going to get banned unfairly, and if we got banned they’d complain and leave…yeah. It wasn’t pretty. I was actually the one to open a thread for everyone to talk and reconcile, which thankfully did help and no one got banned despite what the conspiracy theorists thought, but some people still left the forum. Looking back, I don’t regret the fun I had in that thread or the fandom friends I made through it, but I wish I’d known the images we found and shared were illegal or I’d have never posted them, would have encouraged the others not to post them either…and the hurtful drama might never have happened.

    • Kellyn Roth
      Reply

      Ah, too bad! That’s interesting. You wouldn’t figure a thing like that would be illegal!

  • AbbyRose
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing Kellyn! I honestly really needed the reminder of this today <3 The internet is a crazy thing…it's like once you start talking you just won't shut up! About a year ago I made a very poor internet decision…thankfully that's in the past and I have such a wonderful family helping me through it! Thanks again for the reminder 🙂

    • Kellyn Roth
      Reply

      For sure! 😀 Sorry about that – but glad it’s over! It’s easy for things to get blown up where people can just talk about anything with no apparent consequences.

  • K.A.
    Reply

    Amazing post, Kellyn! I definitely think all of these are super important. I find myself struggling to watch what I say IRL as well, especially when someone picks on me. I naturally want to bite back and be rude and it’s so hard not to do that. I know once when I was doing NaNoWriMo I got into a stupid argument with someone about why it was (or in my opinion wasn’t) horribly wrong to kill insects – particularly flies. Thankfully we agreed in the end and decided it wasn’t a matter that should split us as friends. But it is a hard and good lesson to be learned on the internet and IRL. Thanks for sharing, Kell! I know we haven’t talked in forever, so I hope you’re doing fantastic!!! 😀 Miss you!

    • Kellyn Roth
      Reply

      Haha! The goofiest things people think … I wonder if she’d feel that way if a horde of horseflies were swarming her? 😛

      Absolutely! Thank you! And I miss you, too!! Agggh, we need to talk more!

      • K.A.
        Reply

        Yeah, I don’t know. Anyways, I had to learn a bit of respect for her view in that! Because people have their reasons for things I guess just like we do! 😉

        No problem! We reallly doooooO!!! How have you been?

        • Kellyn Roth
          Reply

          I’ve been okay! Surviving. 😛 How about you?

          • K.A.
            Reply

            Haha, yep. Pretty much same to be honest… Thankfully my life has calmed down a bit and I’ve been able to have some fun in the past week with some road trips and such. School starts soon, so honestly I think it will be nice to get a bit of normal feeling again. I just hope I can mentally handle school when it starts!

            • Kellyn Roth
              Reply

              Right, that makes sense! My schedule is about to bump up (in September that is) and I’m like, “nooooo.” 😛

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