skin thickening

A few days ago I decided I needed to develop a thicker skin. I thought that since I’m writing a book I should get more comfortable with criticism. And the way I would do this would be to read all of the YouTube comments on my last TED talk.

I don’t have to tell you that this was a stupid idea. Because everyone already knows that YouTube comments are the lowest form of internet discourse. (A favorite, in case you’re curious: “Why fall in love if you can fall asleep?”) I’d just listened to Lindy West’s amazing story of forging a weird sort of friendship with an internet troll on This American Life, so maybe I was just in the mood for meanness. If so, I found what I was looking or.

The fact is that anyone who’s participated in more than a handful of writing workshops, or anyone who’s ever worked with an editor, should be pretty comfortable with criticism. I like criticism–as long as it’s thoughtful and helps make my writing better. In fact, I’m skeptical of any editor who seems too easily satisfied. But YouTube comments are far from editorial, so I’m not going to read any in the near future.

I am going link to my second TEDx talk. I don’t know why I thought it would be easier the second time around. It’s not. I feel no less weird about sharing this one than I did about sharing the first one. But, self-consciousness aside, it turns out that I like public speaking. I hope I can keep doing it. (Call me! I’ll come talk to your friends/organization/class about writing or love or the love of writing.)

And I really do think we’re all doing a terrible job at talking about love. Or, at the very least, framing our experiences of love thoughtfully. So here’s my attempt at changing that.


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15 thoughts on “skin thickening

  1. I have watched your TED talks. And they are so inspiring! I do realize that we all need thicker skins sometimes. But don’t forget that online, all the critics hide behind their user names and computer screens. It not worth spending time (and brain power and emotions) on those opinions. Please, please do keep on doing what you love, and inspiring those of us around you.

      • Yes, in the email…there isn’t a link, like and obvious CTA.

        LOVE your work and mission. I’m on a similar mission (in the world of business, actually, making the world of business more human, by leveraging human emotions, like judo), and blueprint your stuff for mine. Thanks!

  2. Hi Mandy, I really enjoyed this talk! The metaphor that love is a collaborative work of art is so useful, and appropriate for many types of romantic relationships. I’m currently studying an undergraduate philosophy subject on romantic love but I have found the existing philosophical literature quite unsatisfying on the topic. I have noticed particularly that philosophy on romantic love is quite different between men and women philosophers… at least in the representative sample of readings we have been provided with. The philosophy written by women is much more applicable to modern contexts. In a general sense, I feel as though the philosophy of men on romantic love is focused on explaining and thinking about the ideal version (even negatively, such as with Schopenhauer) whereas women philosophers tend to question the historical ideal of romantic love and propose new ideas.
    I look forward to reading more of your work!

    • Sophia, I’d highly recommend Erich Fromm’s “The Art of Loving”, which parallel’s Mandy’s talk perfectly, followed by Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Travelled”, and David Richo’s “How to be an Adult in Love”…among many others that interwine philosophy, psychology, biology and humanism! 😉

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed your video and blog, especially metaphors. I will never think of ‘smitten’ the same again. Thank you!
    As mentioned above, I would not put any weight into comments posted on YouTube, unless you’re specifically seeking irrationality.

  4. Mandy,

    First of all, this TED talk reminded me of why I majored in English (because the language we speak is so incredibly influential in how we view the world and live our lives). Secondly, this conversation of how we understand and process love through language is SO fascinating and, quite frankly, really important. I mean, why aren’t more people talking about this? I’m twenty-two and currently single, but was in a destructive and unhealthy relationship from eighteen to twenty. The things I allowed myself to go through in that relationship BECAUSE of our societal understanding of what love is…I didn’t know how to think of love as anything different than falling into a long-term entity that was focused on commitment, which ultimately did so much harm to my well-being. I love the idea of “stepping” into love. Feelings often times do have a mind of their own (at least in my experience) but the way we act upon those feelings and approach situations based off of them is entirely up to us as individuals. I’m all for stepping…especially since falling has only gotten me into trouble in the past.

    I’m thrilled to have stumbled across your blog today and cannot wait to follow and read more.

  5. Mandy,

    I found your TED talk beautiful. It reminded me of how much we over look how we describe love as something of violence when it shouldn’t be that way. I love that you mentioned Romeo and Juliet because at 14 I didn’t understand why a girl would give up her entire life for a boy and I really want are girls to understand that isn’t healthy and know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
    I really hope you are able to speak publicly more as I would love to listen.

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