In this week's issue

Notes to self

Globetrotting writer Gaby Doman reflects on the everyday ups and downs of being a modern woman

  • By Gaby Doman
  • Published: 17:00 November 9, 2012
  • Tabloid on Saturday

I will do almost anything to avoid an argument. If people around me are bickering, I will either ignore it or try and smooth it out. If somebody tries to start on me, I generally just try to defuse the situation by saying “let’s agree to disagree”, or by running away, if needs be. I never really understand people who want to have a big row. Firstly, it’s really stressful for everyone. Secondly nobody ever changed their mind about something from somebody shouting at them — unless they were just scared into agreeing with them, perhaps.

I can’t remember the last time I had an argument. I thought I wasn’t really someone who upset people that much. Like a human piece of toast. Nobody hates toast. It might not be your favourite food, but you don’t hate it.

Anyway, this week I was surprised to discover some people really, really dislike toast. Or, actually if I stop using the metaphor, they just really dislike me. I was tweeting from a “rotation curation” account, which sounds really geeky because it is. Basically, Bangkok has a Twitter account from which a different person from the city tweets every week. The UAE has one too. Because I write columns and tweet all the time under my own name, I thought it would be fine. It wasn’t.

I talked about the usual gubbins that fills up my mind: boys, gym, food. I kept away from work, bills, politics, etc, because I wanted to provide light entertainment. I’m not a super serious person (maybe you’ve noticed?) and even when I’m stressed or insecure, I will try and deal with it by joking.

Though most people seemed to like what I wrote, a few attacked me (a few middle aged men with very little in common with me). It’s really horrid having a little community of people writing stuff about how they perceive you (teenage, superficial, etc) delivered straight to your phone. I realised I don’t quite have a thin skin, because I felt really sad about it. And then a bit ridiculous for getting upset about the opinions of some people I don’t even know. I considered trying to sound a bit more cerebral in what I wrote, and then I decided I didn’t have anything to prove. Why should you be anything other than vacuous on twitter, if that’s your release from the stresses of life?

I suppose if you put yourself out there in any way — whether it’s on twitter or just having an opinion and not being entirely insipid, you’re going to ruffle feathers. What do they say? Something about if you don’t upset some people, you’re not doing it right? Something like that?

But most of us will always remember the negative criticisms rather than the praise. I can’t imagine what it must be like to get that on a regular basis. If I was a public figure such as a politician or a celebrity, I think I’d obsessively read stories and comments about me and then have to hide in my room crying and being paranoid. It definitely takes a stronger person than me to put themselves out there and hear what people have to say about you. I think the key is to just do your thing, accept not everyone is going to like it and carry on regardless.

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