Sometimes all you need to remind yourself just how imperfect you are is a little provocation.
In my case last week, it was very little provocation.
Someone in a Facebook group I belong to called Sell Your Art posted a painting of a horse done by his nine-year-old daughter.
By objective standards, it was not expertly rendered. However, I personally thought it quite artistic, particularly for a girl her age, and demonstrated a degree of raw talent that, if cultivated, could generate some great results.
Another member of the group did not think so and commented: “it looks exactly like something an average nine-year-old would paint… why post here?”
In a way, she had a point. Generally, kids’ art is not very good until they’ve had a chance to develop and the page is called Sell Your Art not Show Your Children’s Art; there are plenty of Facebook groups for that.
Nevertheless, for some reason, the comment just totally rubbed me the wrong way and although I have made it a rule in recent years not to argue with people on social media, I found myself unable to stop myself from responding. I told her I disagreed and made some unkind comments about her digital artwork, which I thought looked like she had simply applied a Photoshop filter to photographs.
In retrospect, I was disappointed with myself and so, the following day when I saw she had tagged me in a comment on the thread, I didn’t even bother to look at it. Given her initial comment and her interaction with others, who had also pushed back against it, I could guess it was going to be nasty.
But of course, I kept getting notifications that someone else had commented on a post I was following in the group and eventually ended up seeing her response.
“I have an Instagram channel where you can find videos of me painting, when you watch the process and how it’s done you realize that it takes an immense amount of skill, something that you lack (yes, I’ve also seen your work),” she said.
She did not disappoint and I was briefly tempted to respond.
Unlike her, I have never purported to have any great degree of talent or claimed to be a professional artist and don’t go around attacking little girls who are just starting to learn. A lot of people do seem to like my stuff, though, and I do sell a lot of it.
I was also briefly tempted to add: “It must be exhausting to be such a miserable person all the time.”
But that would have been pretty miserable of me and really not worth it, which is why I established my no negative engagement social media policy in the first place. It is almost always better just to let things go.
On the positive side, my little lapse was a good reminder that I am not immune to impulsive and pointless interactions on the internet.
As always, I am a work in progress.