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I made a string of horrible mistakes online. How do I move forward?

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  • I made a string of horrible mistakes online. How do I move forward?

    Before I start, I want to say that I really do need honesty. for background, I am 19 and a girl.

    I am an artist, and in recent months I have been making fan art for a movie franchise and it made my Instagram grow popular. I did one or two live streams but then everyone who joined the livestream wanted to talk to each other. Because of this, I decided to create a discord (i am not sure if you know what discord is, but it is a sort of social media that allows people to talk to each other in a large group chat basically, and there are different channels so you can organize the types of things that are talked about) and it grew larger than expected very quickly. At the moment, it is at around 90 members and we are all there to talk about the movie franchise together.

    When the server first started, I really had no idea how discord worked. A few people stepped forward and offered to be admins, and being desperate, I accepted their offers without asking them their ages. I am 19, and the other admins are 17, and three that are 16. I made sure from the beginning to let them know that they can tell me if i am making them uncomfortable or anything but like,,, I know now that that really means nothing since people on here trust me since I was the person who made the server, and I should have realized that people wont want to tell me when I am wrong because I am a person they like and look up to. Anyways.

    There were no problems at first (or no problems I could see forming.) One of the admins, I'll call them X, started messaging me privately a lot. not to talk about anything weird, but to ask me about my day and to ask if they could talk about some commissions they were doing. I honestly just wanted to be y'know, a nice normal person, so I did talk to them! At one point, they asked me if they could draw me with my favorite character and I was flattered and so I said sure. That was another mistake. I was just taking it as them being nice.

    This is where we get to the point where I just made mistake upon mistake that just live in my brain so bare with me. In one of the main channels, people started to say borderline NSFW things about characters, or wanted to mention NSFW pieces of writing about characters. I should have just kept this completely against the rules, but at the time I thought it was best to make a separate channel so that people who are uncomfortable seeing stuff like that did not have to see it.

    I did not make this an 18+ channel since most of the people wanting to say things were 16+, and although it was not ok, it was ok in my brain at the moment since it was just talking about these adult characters (which is hopefully not as evil as just... sexualizing children and letting adults prey on younger people... but I know that it is still wrong.)

    There were moments when these younger people stepped away from talking about the characters and started sexualizing each other. Saying stuff like how they wanted to put each other in collars and stuff like that. I shut that down immediately. But unfortunately, the people partaking in these conversations were the other admins. And even more than that, the two that were talking like this have bad anxiety (and one has Borderline Personality Disorder), so they started overly blaming themselves. I began to feel bad when stopping any behavior that I felt was weird or wrong due to being scared of making them upset/making them want to hurt themselves.

    I took part in talking about these characters/celebrities in this channel, even though that was bad and wrong. I was never the one to bring the conversation further though, it was the younger people who said the more vulgar stuff. I made sure to not expose anyone to anything,, that was something I always kept in mind even though it was still wrong for me to let this chat exist/remain in chat when realizing that it was mostly 16/17 year old's that were talking in it (there were/are two other people between 18-20 in this channel, but because they are smart they aren't actually active in there) . I was aware of this. I think I was just enjoying talking about the characters too much to care to stop. Which is wrong. Obviously. I know i was not forcing these conversations on anyone, but I really shouldn't have like... like... idk I shouldn't have took part.

    People started sharing nsfw writing excerpts in this channel, specifically X, the admin I talked about earlier. She prided herself on writing this stuff and kept sending it. It was about the characters, something you could call "fanfiction" in some sense. One of the excerpts got really visual/vulgar so I decided to make yet another channel (instead of shutting the behavior down) for that stuff to go in. I did not contribute any large excerpts to this channel, but I did respond to them.

    X asked everyone in that one chat if they wanted personalized excerpts, but I feel that she was specifically invested in mine and she messaged me privately about what to include. I should have NEVER normalized having those conversations for her. ever. I asked if it made her uncomfortable (to confirm, this is not me talking to her sexually but talking about characters sexually) and she said not at all, and she has been writing this stuff for fun and talking to older people about it for years but that is not an invitation for me to continue on with that behavior.

    At one point, she said that she was writing a softer piece of writing about me and this character. I thought it was going to be something short, but a few days later she just sent me a five-thousand word piece of writing. I allowed her to write it and talked very excited about it but,,, looking back i should have told her not to write it. I don't know why I let her.

    Fast forward a week (to around a week ago). I get a dm from this girl saying "can we talk?" and i say "sure"

    she says that she has caught feelings for me. and that when she wrote that stuff, that it is because it came from the heart. and that she would "be there for me" and stuff like that. and obviously, this made me feel really uncomfortable and gross. I told her that I do not feel anything towards her and she was like "oh ok. that's fine. we can still be friends right?" and I said yes, honestly wanting to be nice and not wanting to scare her or anything. It is my fault that she got so connected as I encouraged all of these different conversations. at this point i stopped initiating conversations with her but she keep coming into my direct messages and i didnt want to stop them and make her feel bad.

    I wanted to start writing something for myself for the first time, sort of a way to reclaim, and since i was so used to talking about it I brought it up with her and she was like "oo i can give you tips for writing stuff like that!" and i let her send the writing tips which is so disgusting of me to allow.

    That was the last time we ever talked about stuff like that.

    On sunday night, she had in her discord "status" some common scary things that she usually has like "bye world." "all I see is crimson" "someone please stop me" and i was getting really concerned. I messaged her and she was like " i am literally about to commit i cant do this tell me to put down the knife" so i talked her through it, and after all of it she was like "thank you. thank you, you are truly one of the only people I can trust. you are such a wonderful person thank you" and I know she was just being appreciative, but in that moment I realized that i became her personal therapist, i let her become attached to me. and i got freaked out. the following day I sent a poorly worded message saying that i was concerned with how attached she was getting to me, and the wording put most of it on her. she apologized for making me uncomfortable and logged off. the following day, I sent a message to her after realizing how horrible my wording was and apologized, saying that she had no way of knowing my boundaries that even i did not realize or enforce, and I apologized for getting too comfortable and talking about that explicit content. she said i had nothing to apologize for but I really, really do. I have everything to apologize for. I want to send her a longer apology since my first one was only a few sentences since i did not want to freak her out but I did not take enough accountability. I do not want to kick her off of the server and punish her for my mistakes. I do not want to run away from my own problems and leave the server. But i also don’t want to expose people to dangerous people like me. I have never been a person to act like this before and I do not know what came over me.

    The steps i have took so far to make this right is 1: the apology message.

    2: I will no longer be messaging her 1 on 1, and ik she has abandonment issues so i made sure to let her know that it is not her fault whatsoever and that I simply need to focus on having more casual friendships on this app.

    3: I muted myself from the NSFW server and honestly that stuff is ruined for me now. I cant even look at the characters the same so i dont even have a desire to talk about them anymore so its fine.

    4: I am talking less overall on social media and the server. I am supposed to be the moderator. Not the one causing problems.

    I feel like a really horrible person. I am putting myself on the same level as people who try to groom younger teens. it was never my goal to make this younger person attached to me, but I did have these wrong conversations with them. Do other people make mistakes like this? I am going to grow and change but I am scared that i ruined myself as a "good person" for the rest of my life. I wish i realized all of my behavior earlier. I don’t want to ask for sympathy at all I just feel so close to hurting myself, I don’t feel like I deserve to live right now. I really don't. and these feelings are no reason to tell me that what i did isn't wrong. I know it was wrong. I just don't know what to do now

  • #2
    Hey there! I am glad you reached out, this seems like a lot on your plate. First and foremost it is very impressive that you were able to achieve so much with your interest of fan art by obtaining a nice social media following and starting discords for those who follow. That is very great and I really hope this experience doesn't ruin that for you. The challenge with moderating is, as you said, having to know the limits. It seems as if the NSFW talk is something that blindsided you which is why you were probably not prepared for everything that came next. Moving forward it would be good for you to know the limits of the chat and be stern about them. The truth is that these group members can discuss such conversations in other ways that do not involve your chat. By keeping stern limits you not only protect your interest and your image but you keep it safe for people that tune in for the genuine purpose.

    As for the person who took interest in you, it is best that you were straight forward about the feelings you did not have for her. It is understandable how the boundary line could have been blurred since you engaged in casual conversation about topics that would blur that line. You were able to re-establish the boundary line as to not make it confusing. It was also good that you apologized since you felt your tone was harsh, after that you did all that you can do. It would be best to leave it at that so the conversation doesn't linger and so she can move past it. As for yourself if you feel like you are experiencing thoughts of self harm please reach out to either 2NDFLOOR or someone you trust to talk about these feelings. There are many other ways to cope that can gladly be discussed.

    The internet world can be a great place for many reasons but it can also get out of hand pretty quickly. Be sure that if anything is in your name that it is the way you want it to be, something that you can be proud of or shut it down if you can't regain control. In the future employers and people in general will want to look up your work, you want them to see what you are proud of, not things that you aren't. Overall it does not sound as if you are a bad person, it sounds like you are just starting out as a moderator on the internet. You have made some errors and you learned from them which is how you get to be even better! If you would like to talk about this or anything else further please feel free to reach out to 2NDFLOOR any time 24/7 via text or call at 1(888)222-2228!


    • #3
      Thank you so much for your quick response. You're absolutely right about me being blindsided. I actually sent a message in the overarching admin chat giving a genuine apology for participating in that chat. I know that they wouldn't see my actions as inappropriate, which is exactly why I had to apologize for that. I kept it concise and mentioned that I am going to work on being a more responsible person etc. However I did tell them that if any issues arise in that chat, they can come to me for help. I think that was the right thing to do. I just had to admit to the people I wronged that I did actually mess up. I worded it in a way to avoid any guilt on their part, and it was all self-accountable. I would rather just get rid of the channel, but I don't want it to seem like I am trying to get rid of any "evidence" or anything, so I feel like its best that I just let the chat fade out/let them talk amongst themselves there. I think that was the right thing to do? I hope?

      I still feel really bad about the way I initially reacted to that one girl, but you're right about just leaving it how it is. I still feel like that second message didn't take enough accountability but it seems that she is completely moving on and this is just my own guilty conscience. I think she's going to be ok, even if I did spark some anxiety or sadness in her for a moment. i'll make sure to not mention this around her again so she can move past in any way she feels is necessary.

      Yeah, i am very new to moderating. I am used to just being a very casual social media user so all of this was really overwhelming. I should have made sure I was ready for it but I honestly wasn't expecting anything at this level. I feel much better after talking about it. I have never made mistakes such as these before and it is still sort of eating away at me, but I think I am going to get past it eventually. Thank you so much for listening.


      • #4
        Im so sorry for messaging again I just have to vent more because my body will not stop shaking. I just feel so horrible about everything. Every aspect of this. I feel like I dont deserve to talk to my nice irl friends who have never done anything like this. I feel like i dont deserve to look my parents in the eye. I feel like I am lying to everyone i want to tell everyone about it but I also want no one to know. I just want this feeling to go away. I wish I could reverse it all but I cant. argh. I guess this is my big life mistake.... its worse than other people's for sure.... I just hope this is something I can get past. That other people can look past if they find out (but also I dont really feel like I deserve forgiveness? its complicated. If i heard that someone else did this stuff I would be pissed at them) I just feel like if I was asked about this I would want to explain to someone the extent of my thought process and just... failure to realize how bad it was but that doesn't make it ok. I understand if people see me as a bad person because of this and that is what is hurting. I have been going to therapy for years trying to build up my self esteem and its all come crashing to a halt and that feeling is deserved. I just. I really really messed up. and its scary its really scary. I just need someone to tell me that this isn't the worst thing I can do even though that's a selfish feeling. It's not like I ever asked minors for nudes or anything, but to think that is the only way someone can incorrectly interact with people is also wrong. I just hope that this is forgivable. (but I also understand if it is not. I just dont know what to do with myself or think of myself.) At the moment I just feel like I don't really deserve the platform ive built on social media and im not quite sure what to do with it now. I just feel like i dont deserve anything, like to eat or whatever and I dont mean that as a way to distract anyone from what ive done (which is why I am putting it here) I just. I really, genuinely, feel horrible. Sigh. Im so sorry theres no point to this message I just have to vent so I don't make any stupid decisions.


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