Recently, I had some backchannel exchanges with a long-time veteran of the poetry community. He chided me for taking criticism personally and brought out the time-honored "if you dish it out, you have to take it" statement.
True, but it's hard to "take it" when people resort to calling me a "turd" and saying that my death cannot happen soon enough.
Certainly, bullying doesn't end with childhood and adolescence.
And the above comments ("constructive criticism" perhaps?) were made by people who are regarded by some as class acts (one a poetry publisher/slam veteran and the other arguably a creator of the "elevated" community that now exists).
I think of a comment I once read about how people can be vicious to each other when the stakes are low (in the case of poetry, it often amounts merely to gaining prestige in your area, with national/international recognition out of reach for the most part).
Here's to all the people driving home tonight from whatever readings or literary events they've been to--all tying themselves into knots because they're worrying about having blown their chance to impress that special someone who might elevate whatever lowly status they think they have.
I know it gets better--it's been both better and worse for me at various times in the past.
One just has to hang on each time until the longed-for state of "better" arrives.