Single Dad Laughing has been going for nearly twelve months. Since it started, I’ve been given the same bit of advice by just about everybody, always with good intentions. They say, “you’re just going to have to develop thick skin.” It usually comes during the discussion of the handful of real idiot things that have been said to me or about me since starting this thing.
I’ve always been a sensitive person. Some would say that I’m too sensitive. Don’t get me wrong. When people tease me in good humor or with sarcasm, I don’t mind at all. Heaven knows I know how to dish a healthy dose of such banter out myself. But when people purposefully try to hurt me with their words… well… who am I kidding? It hurts.
So what does it mean to develop thick skin? To me it means I have to pretend. I have to pretend that it doesn’t affect me. I have to pretend that it doesn’t influence me. I have to pretend that it doesn’t hurt or get me down. I have to pretend that I don’t have… feelings.
Hmmm… It sounds dangerously like the words I heard every once in a while growing up after other kids called me Fat Ass or worse. “You just have to learn to not let what they say affect you.”
What they were really saying was…
“You have to bury it.”
“You have to sweep it under the rug.”
“You have to pretend it never happened.”
“You have to be less than human.”
“You have to do whatever you have to do so that the rest of the world doesn’t have to bother with your story or your pain.”
Well, I didn’t buy it then, and I definitely don’t buy it now. Thick skin schmick schmin. That’s what I say.
If somebody hurts me, I’m allowed to hurt. And so are each of you. If somebody cuts me down, I’m allowed to be wounded. And so are each of you. If somebody is a complete jerk, I’m allowed to not like them because of it. And so are each of you.
“If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Shakespeare wrote it so eloquently.
I am far from famous and I still get the occasional dollop of ugliness unloaded on me by people with nothing better to do with their lives. I can’t even imagine what real famous people get, especially those that try and do right in this world. I’ll tell you this much. I feel for some of them. The very fact that they’re celebrities makes most of us demand that they have no feelings at all.
Well, I can’t do it, I’ve never been able to do it, and I’ll never do it. I’ll never develop “thick skin.” And I don’t want to. To feel is human. To hurt is human. So why would I want to be less than human?
The funny thing is, I actually haven’t had much crap flung at me at all lately. I wanted to write about this now because every time I do encounter the trolls, I find myself trying to find a way to develop that thick skin. I find myself trying to find a way to avoid the topic of discussion. I find myself trying to make myself less than a person. I just never can.
To me, it doesn’t matter if a person is uber-famous or if his mother is the only one on earth who knows who he is, everybody is entitled to feel. Nobody should have to pretend like the idiocy, carelessness, rashness, and hurtfulness of others is without emotional consequence. Ever.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. What do you think? Do you believe people should develop thick skin? Do you think when somebody is “well known,” “popular,” or in the “public eye” they should learn how to never be affected by the bad things, by the garbage, or by the trolls?