I didn't understand, but quickly became overwhelmed. I'd never felt hate like that before. Not in the mass quantities like that. Not from so many non-anonymous sources. For seemingly no reason. I didn't know why they'd targeted me. I didn't know where they came from. All I knew was that three-hundred people (and counting, as the emails continued to pour in) actively wanted me to kill myself, and they had no problems telling me so.
Finally a comment added more details letting me know what fueled this train of rage. She spoke of another YouTube user by name, telling me that I needed to shut my mouth and that this other person was having their personal army come at me. After some searching, I found a video this person put out, and midway through it a caption bubble popped up linking to my YouTube account with the message: "Untypically Jia thinks all gay people should get AIDs and die. Go tell this bitch to kill herself."
It took less than five minutes to find the source. There, in the comments of the same video (that had clearly been edited later to add a personal note to me) was a comment next to my name and picture saying horrible things about gay people. My account had been hacked. I quickly found several other comments left by "me" on random videos and accounts. I immediately changed my password and then sent a massive letter of apology to the YouTube accounts that were trolled by my hacker. Thankfully the link and letter of attack on my person was removed within the day, but the damage was done. Emails continued coming in, this time accusing me of lying about my account being hacked into. Telling me that I was not only fat and worthless but clearly afraid of the people commenting.
And I was.
I was afraid my name would forever be tarnished with this horrible situation. That people would assume I carried that type of hatred inside of me. But most of all, I was afraid that everything they said was true. I'd made progress with my depression, and I remembered thinking, "If this had happened a month ago . . . how would I have reacted?" Would I have been strong enough to avoid suicide as it was commanded of me by hundreds of YouTube followers? Could I have just deleted the emails and moved on? Then I worried . . . what if this happens again? What if I have another breakdown and find myself at the bottom of a depressive episode and suddenly there are masses of people telling me the world is better off?
And that's when I started Self Esteem Saturdays. Where people could come to my blog, write about their experiences with their own self esteem, and be lifted up by the masses of people who would tell them how wonderful, beautiful and amazing they are. I felt compelled to save others. I needed them to save me.
And they did.
I survived that dark year and came out scarred - but safe - on the other side.
Unfortunately words, once spoken, never really go away. I'll always remember the day I got punched in the face when I was six years old. I'll remember the girls who attacked me in California and the ones who threw rocks at me in New Mexico. I'll remember my "joking" friends and I'll forever remember the day the internet told me to go die.
But to fight back we have to surround ourselves with more supporters than bullies.
And we have to BE those supporters for others.
And speaking of supporting others, I know my readers. I know by now you're sitting there with your mouth open, shocked at what I've written. And you instinctively want to say, "OMG Jia I can't believe that happened! I'm so sorry!" And then you'll be awesome (like always) and tell me how great I am and how everyone else is an asshole.
BUT! Here's what I want you to do instead. I want you to tell someone else how awesome they are. Maybe it's someone who really obviously needs it. Maybe it's someone who you think hears it everyday, but they might not, and they might really need a word of love from you. One person makes all the difference, and I've already got you - so go and be that difference to someone else today!
* The Bloggess once did mention me in a tweet , linking people to my Traveling Red Dress post. It was one of the best days I'd had in a long time, and it proved to me that one person really can make you feel special.