I’m so sorry, Taylor.
This article was originally published June 1, 2016.
When we think of internet trolls we often think of poor, pathetic people who hide behind their computer to maliciously attack celebrities. But this is not a story of malice nor is it a story of a homely girl hiding behind her laptop.
This is a story about me and the time I trolled Taylor Swift online and didn’t even realize it until years later.
Back in college, I wrote for the arts column of my school paper and eventually became the celebrity gossip columnist my senior year. I had the free range to write on the topic of my choice and as long as my article was articulate and interesting, it was published.
When I wrote the article “Taylor Swift Too Romantic to Be Romantic Role Model” I wasn’t actually thinking of Taylor Swift. At least not Taylor Swift as a human being. Living in a small city in Michigan at the time, I felt as far removed from Hollywood as humanly possible and Taylor Swift was merely an idea in my mind. She couldn’t possibly be a real person with real feelings, right?
Well, needless to say, I ripped T Swift a new one. I bitched about her song lyrics and railed against her for having seemingly an endless parade of boyfriends. I slut-shamed her without using the words and berated her for not being the role model I thought she should be.
I was mean. I was really mean. And it wasn’t exactly my first time. By then I’d had a couple internships at small-scale websites and was free to write snarky things about Taylor as I pleased. I’m sure I even posted my articles on my Facebook and shared them with my friends.
But what I did was wrong and I didn’t even realize it at the time. This is not an excuse, but merely an explanation: as a journalist I often feel so in my head that I couldn’t remove myself from the situation and see how my article might impact people. I’m not talking about Taylor here, because I’m sure there’s no chance in hell she ever saw my article, but I’m talking about readers. I had put out a ball of negative energy into the universe and I didn’t even think how that would affect anyone who might read it, whether they agreed or not. Unfortunately, my article still lives on the internet, years later, and you can read it here if you so choose.
I started this blog with the intention of uplifting women, writing positive things about celebs even when they’re facing a public backlash, and bringing attention to local feminist news that could bring a little joy into someone’s day.
Starting this blog though has only made me realize how much negativity there is out in the world. So many nasty things said about so many women are posted every day and everyone acts like it’s just normal. Oh, that’s just the media, right?
Taylor Swift may not have been my role model as a teen, but she has been a role model to millions of girls. Her songs help girls get through break-ups and her confidence gives young girls hope. Who am I to tell them otherwise?
So this is my plea: By admitting to my previous life as a snarky writer, I want you to think, to really think, about what you’re posting online. You may not be a journalist but you probably have a Facebook or Twitter account and you definitely have a platform. Let’s make a collective effort to make the Internet a nicer, more caring place. I know I will. Are you in?
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.