14 notifications from Twitter.

“That’s strange,” I thought. “I only have one follower.”

I clicked on the notifications tab.

“Ummmmm…nice try,” one tweet read. “Do 10 minutes worth of research text time.”

“Do better and open your mind.”

“I hope that you will do more diligent research on your term papers than you did for this piece.”

I was ultimately confused.

First of all, how did they find my personal Twitter account?

Second of all, what were they talking about?

It turns out that Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times journalist and founder of The 1619 Project, discovered an article I wrote for Campus Reform, where I wrote about how my college assigned a few essays from the 1619 Project for the Common Read, despite it being deemed as historically inaccurate by multiple Pulitzer-winning historians. She took to Twitter and pointed out a mistake in the article.

“Imagine writing a hit piece on the 1619 Project and then thinking Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ida Bae Wells are two different people.”

My editor for the article accidentally attributed a comment from Nikole Hannah-Jones to Ida B. Wells, who was not only an investigative journalist, activist, and one of the founders of the NAACP, but died back in 1931. In my first draft, the comment was attributed to Jones, who has Ida Bae Wells as her Twitter name. But my editor had changed that and no one knew. The damage was done. The mistake was published. It had my name on it, so the mob came after me.

They threw classic ad hominem at me, calling me uneducated, arrogant, lazy and ignorant, saying that my parents should ask for a refund for my education and I was a result of donors’ kids, and asking where my editor was, especially since I was criticizing historical documents that weren’t well researched when I supposedly didn’t do my basic research.

Despite the shame from smug random Twitter users who acted like they’ve never made a mistake before, I was actually proud of myself. I was able to get the attention of a 44 year old Pulitzer-winning journalist who had nothing better to do on a Saturday morning but attack a 19 year old college kid trying to get some journalism experience. Who else gets to stay that they were punched down and made fun of by a New York Times journalist? And jokes on them, I didn’t make that mistake. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have been ashamed because we all make mistakes. That’s human nature.

For those of you reading this and are scared of voicing your opinion, remember that if you’re criticized, that’s power. Do not be afraid. Who knows? Maybe you’ll grab the attention of someone prominent too.

Lela is a freshman at Mount Holyoke College. When she’s not reading FFL, she’s writing for Campus Reform, reading the news, or drinking some tea or coffee.

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