While away from the site for the last year and a half, I spent much of my time investing in my Instagram account, Anime Pop Heart, which is now associated with Beneath the Tangles. We have a similar mission on that platform, though of course it’s more about the visual and less about the written word.
I have a co-administrator on Anime Pop Heart, Holly, who is sort of a disciplee of mine. Because her face is more front and center on the account, new followers often think they’re chatting with her when they comment or when they direct message us. I’m getting bombarded with messages from boys these days, all of whom seem to be interested in Holly; many are dipping their toes into the waters with their words, but some are plunging right in.
In fact, I would say lately I’ve been getting anywhere from two to five new messages each day from ********** (won’t use the word here that they’re known by). And to be completely honest, whether they’re casual or up-front, all the messages are annoying. They’re all frustrating. Like, STOP HITTING ON ME.
But this post isn’t about learning what it’s like to be a girl. It’s true that I got a glimpse into that life, and it is exasperating, but maybe what’s more horrifying isn’t realizing what Holly and so many have to go through, but it’s that those guys who are doing the message…those guys are me.
I grew up as the Internet was exploding, and my teenage years were full of a/s/loc (you’re not the first generation, my friends!) messages sent out in hopes of I don’t know what. I wasn’t thinking of anybody but myself at the time, much less about girls who absolutely didn’t want to be bothered by random, gross guys.
Through Instagram, I’ve now been “blessed” enough to be on the other side of the coin for a little bit, to see how my selfishness and ugly desires can affect others. It can bother them, scare them, and demean them – after all, it’s weird to realize that I’m nothing more than a piece of meat to these guys who aren’t even engaged enough to realize that they might be writing a guy instead of a girl! My hope is that when I get an experience like this, even if it points at something I did in the past, that I’ll take it and use it for the future. I want to move forward with what I’ve learned, which in this case is this: empathy isn’t literally walking in someone else’s shoes – it’s never having walked in their shoes, but understanding and loving them just the same. Even if they’re *********.