The haters come out again

Well, not really haters, but sometimes that’s what they feel like.

You may or may not have seen my post on that documentary about the adoption of an eight-year old Chinese girl.  Quite frankly, I didn’t think many people read it.  I know people like to read my rants, complaining about my mom, or about me and MB.  But sometimes I just write about whatever interests me.

I get maybe 100 unique visitors a day.  The most I ever got was 186.  So about 3000 visits in a month.  Maybe that seems like a lot but you know how many the Huffington Post got in February 2008? 1,865,000.  One MILLION eight hundred and sixty five thousand, versus three thousand.  The population of a city versus the student population at a small college.

So I was very surprised to get a comment from the adoptive mom from the documentary.

I won’t get into the details of our exchange (which you can read in the comments of the post), only to say that it was a reminder that my words are not simply disappearing into cyberspace.

Writing online has its hazards.  It’s great that you can get an immediate response, and it’s bad that you can get an immediate response.  Lately I’ve been dealing with the idea of external validation, and wanting it too much, getting so dependent on it that when I don’t have it, I feel yucky.  Of course it’s something in my brain I need to work out, but I think the internet enables it.  How many comments do I have?  Is mine the most read article?  What do people have to say about me?  Do they like me, really like me?

Or the opposite: when people disagree, or are insulted (even when I don’t mean to be insulting), or take my words the wrong way.

I actually think I can deal better with a negative response than no response.  With a negative response, at least people are reading.  There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

For a while I kept thinking, well, I just need to put myself out there more so I can get more external validation so that I don’t feel bad.  But while I should indeed put myself out there more, it shouldn’t be for external validation, but for the process in and of itself.  For whatever goal I’ve set for myself.

I like this site.  On the surface it seems a bit nutty because it talks about “practical magic,” but it has some smart things to say about external validation (emphasis mine):

We lose force whenever we seek external validation from others because we give control over our lives, our thoughts, our emotions, and our choices to others. Magically, this is a loss of personal power, which is defined as our knowledge plus our control plus our responsibility.

The act of receiving external validation does not, in itself, necessarily cause us to lose force. In fact, encouragement from others can often increase or amplify our force – but only temporarily. For example, have you ever noticed that a compliment from another person, while pleasing and temporarily energizing, often leads to second-guessing about the person’s motives? Or perhaps you might feel momentarily flushed with the energy of the compliment, then feel let down over the next several days if you don’t receive another compliment? In other words, external validation can add to your force, but because it doesn’t come from your own knowing and your own experiences it will soon fade. You can’t “own” the force from a compliment.

Trying to live in the present helps, instead of imagining the outcome of something, whether good, bad, or non-existent.


  1. I don’t want to enable your addiction to external validation, but wanted to let you know I stumbled across your website a while ago and have read it regularly ever since. I rarely (maybe never?) comment, but I enjoy your writing.

  2. Well put. Although I usually just write for me, it is nice to get the feedback occasionally.