THE BLOG
01/16/2015 02:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

On Vine They Always Ask, "Are You For Real?"

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I get a lot of direct messages on Vine. Once people figure out that they can message through the app, they seem to have a lot to say. If someone sends an email to my .com, of course it gets to me. But messaging is different. It's more immediate. It's quicker. And there's one message I get a lot. It might surprise you. It's the most popular question my Vine followers have decided needs an immediate, quick answer: "How can I be happy?"

The question blows my mind.

How I Deal With Bullies

I always answer the same way, and we'll get to that. But first, perhaps you thought words of hateful hate would be a popular message I receive. Or you'd think I get the sales-pitchy requests for me to help other Vine pages get popular ("re-vine me, please!"). Yes, I get both of those. But, most often the subject is happiness, and always the question is "how". My Vine message inbox is filled with folks who assume (or sense) that I've been through some hard sh*t, and I'm still glad to be here.

'Are you for real?' is another question they always ask. A person who asks "for real" questions will usually add a little explanation, "you seem so happy in your vines, can you really be that happy?" As my vines have become more popular, I've noticed that people aren't used to someone being consistently happy. "Heck yes, I'm happy" I tell them, and it's taken me years to get here. With any luck, it will take years to stay here.

The happy little vines I make have come at a great cost. Lately I never regret the price, but I can still remember the time years ago when I had to decide I was ready to pay. The cost was giving up thinking of myself as a victim. Vine has helped me so much with this, because I interact with lovely people from all kinds of jobs and backgrounds and I can clearly see we're in this together.

I don't know how to say this next part delicately. I see so many LGBTQ folks competing for top (bottom?) victim, just like I did. Thinking it will get us what we want, we strive to be The Most Hated. Us vs. Them is almost always a dangerous way of thinking; separatist binaries get us in trouble. But I've seen that the most dangerous binary of all is Haters vs. Me, or the slightly better Haters vs. Us. It's easy to hate haters back, and it's a big mistake.

I love every fan I interact with on Vine, and most are not LGBTQ. My biggest demographic by far is straight teen girls (who rock btw). Those girls have taught me many things, mostly that anyone can feel like an outsider, a victim. And, they've taught me that we must give up that view of ourselves if we want to be happy. I know horrible things may have happened to you on the playground or in your home growing up, but horrible things happen to everyone. Again, we're in this together.

So, how do I answer those "how can I be happy" messages?

I reply that happiness is a process. It's learned. Practice it like you practice an instrument or sport: every day and with as much teen-aged girlish enthusiasm as you can. It doesn't seem to matter where you start. Buy a book about it, or google "how to be happy". . .

Just start.

Join Jeffrey on Vine, Twitter and jeffreymarsh.com

They Ask Me 'Are You For Real?'