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After cycling 15,000 miles, here’s how I deal with critics on the internet

It turned out to be a major lesson in the kindness of strangers.

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Cycling through the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia, during a 24,000 km bicycle journey from Alaska to Argentina

Yesterday, I got called a scammer, a creep, and a community threat all in the same afternoon…

I run an online business teaching introverted men how to be successful with women. Most of the comments on my posts advertising my services are encouraging and supportive. Some, however, like the ones I received yesterday, are mean and sometimes incisive.

This (almost) had an impact on my self-esteem, because I’m committed to quality in everything I do.

Thanks to a hot shower and a properly ridiculous novel, I could forget all about the strangers who take precious minutes out of their day to call me names on the internet. 

This isn’t the first time: I’ve been called bad names before. 

When I cycled from Alaska to Argentina, name-calling and rudeness was almost a predictable occurrence. 

In Canada, drunk drivers tried to run me off the road. 

In California, men would frequently roll down their windows to scream obscenities at a cyclist on the narrow Highway 101. 

In Peru, older women thought I was a terrorist come to pillage their homes. 

On my bike trip, as with internet business, these unfortunate interactions turned out to be a minuscule, forgettable percentage of my interactions with strangers. 

During my bike trip, family after family tried to adopt me (maybe they thought I was homeless), and when that didn’t work, they gave me food, water, shelter, gifts, money, hugs, and an open invitation to return with the wind at my back. 

The trip was safe, happy, easy, carefree, and wonderful experience, all 15,000 miles of it, in large part thanks to the kindness of strangers. 

The same is true with helping quiet, intelligent men find love. Nearly every single day, I get emails thanking me for what I do. For years, strangers have written to me saying that what I do has helped them, in ways big and small, and to please continue this service.

Over time, I realized that the old adage is true: Haters gonna hate. 

When you do something different, or simply listen to the voice inside your own heart, it scares a lot of people, and makes them react in ways to which they would never publicly admit. 

It brings out the most beautiful AND the most ugly sides of strangers who would otherwise ignore you. 

Maybe they are bored. Maybe they are dehydrated. Maybe they didn’t get enough cuddles as children, or as adults. 

Maybe all of it is just a reminder, as is this entire year, to be kind.

Kind even when strangers are mean, kind when your loved ones are insufferable because we’ve all had enough of the pandemic, kind instead of that spectacular comeback you’re just dying to put to use. 

“You always get to choose how you react, no matter how someone else behaves,” my mother used to tell us while growing up. 

I don’t always succeed, but yesterday was a reminder to keep trying, because clearly, so many people really, really need it. 

Here’s to trying (and sometimes succeeding). 

Here’s to the kindness of strangers.

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