My social media endeavours have been particularly vain today, as I've been publishing a few cheeky shots from the photo shoot @MartynKelly arranged for me in his studio last night. (For the record, I think I think I'd be about 15% more attractive if my nose wasn't so bulbous. However I don't think I'd be as funny if this was the case because I'd rely too much on my looks, therefore I like my nose). But I've been thinking about negative criticism and how it can be beneficial to go public with your mirth for it.
I watch a lot of Stewart Lee,who I’ve liked for a while but have recently become rather fond of because unlike a lot of stand-up comedians, I think he takes his criticism reasonably well. I’m currently reading through the selection of negative comments he has on his website which have been taken from both mainstream publications and online forums. And of course the most horrifically offensive comments are from the people hiding behind an internet pseudonym.
Some statements are just laughably generic but nonetheless brutal:
“I hope Stewart Lee dies.” (So final).
Others are quite comedic and draw a wry smile:
“One man I would love to beat with a shit covered cricket bat.” (Just the one?)
“I hate Stewart Lee with a passion. He’s like Ian Huntley to me.” (This is just incredible and my favourite).
But the one comment about Stewart Lee I particularly empathised with is this one taken from Twitter:
“I used to think stewart lee was quite good, then i spoke to him at edinburgh festival. Arse doesn’t cover it. Ah well.”
This review in particular is what I fear the most. People having a certain opinion of you online, which you fail to live up to when you finally meet them offline. It’s happened to me previously at events where I've met up with the online world. You’re introduced and they can’t hold back their emphatic praise for how funny they find you. Then of course they’re treated to your dazzling social awkwardness, inability to maintain eye contact, painfully hesitant silences, stunted attempts at small talk and cringe worthy amateur attempts at addressing a crowd. You can visibly see the fervent admiration draining out of them.
The thought of the anti-climax other people are experiencing because of what a disappointment you are can engulf you if you let it. It's not real. And even if it is, who cares? The biggest and most harmful critic is inside. Don’t be a hindrance to yourself and don’t give credence to other people just because what they've said about you is negative. Their criticism doesn't define you. It’s just an opinion, which fortunately isn't unanimous. Now, go and make a contribution to the world and bask in the reaction you provoke.