TAKE AN #EVERYDAYVACAY FROM THE HATERS

Pack your bags, climb on board, and get ready to shine. Spread the online love! It’s as simple as sending a nice text, posting an encouraging comment, or bringing in the good vibes in a group text. Who says summer vacation has to end?

Use #LaterHaters to spread good vibes.

And, follow us @later_haters

Between perfect ‘grams and snaps, it’s easy to forget the power we hold in the palm of our hands.

AT&T takes the infinite magic of connectivity seriously. While a tap or swipe can instantly deliver a “like” from your crush or BFF, it can also serve up unexpected hate.

55%

of teens have witnessed online bullying*

95%

who see it, ignore it*

*NoBullying.Com

We know it. We see it. Whether you’ve experienced online cruelty or even at times been a bully yourself — let’s come together to make a change. Let’s start a conversation that becomes a movement. The more of us there are, the louder our love can be. Let’s drown out the haters with hearts.

I'm being trolled I can't escape the negative comments

#LaterHaters ✌️
We’ve got work to do.

I think my child might be at risk online. Could my kid be harassing others online?

*NoBullying.Com

I'm being trolled I think my child might be at risk online.

#EveryDayVacay

Apps, Tips & Tools

Parents
Teens

Parent Guide

Context and tips for adults talking with kids about online behavior, specifically how to help kids protect their reputation and look out for online abuse.

Learn More

Digital You

Digital You provides resources and helps users with privacy, safety and security online.

Learn More

Common Sense Media

Find guidelines, videos, and articles to help with tough conversations, offering age-appropriate advice, school resources, and more from parents and experts.

Learn More

I Am A Witness

I Am A Witness aims to stop bullying by activating the “silent majority” of kids who witness it each day to take action and speak up.

Learn More

Cyberbullying Hotline

A bully reporting and school tip line and app to allow students and counselors to be notified regarding bullying and other harmful situations.

Learn More

Facebook’s Bullying Prevention Hub

The Bullying Prevention Hub is a resource for teens, parents and educators seeking support and help for issues related to bullying and other conflicts.

Learn More

STOPit App

STOPit allows students to securely and anonymously report cyberbullying, harassment and other types of harmful behavior.

Learn More

Sit With Us App

Kids can use the app’s features to coordinate lunches with friends or post open lunch events on campus where everyone will be included.

Learn More

Instagram Comment Filter

Instagram now allows users to filter out abusive comments they don’t want to appear on their posts.

Learn More

Speak Out

READING HATE COMMENTS

Alexis G. Zall

WHAT GIVES YOU CONFIDENCE TO SAY #LATERHATERS

Brendan Jordan

CYBERBULLIES ARE REAL!! WOULD YOU SAY THIS TO SOMEONE'S FACE?

Tannerites

Brave

Don't let labels define you. #LaterHaters -Cover created by: fallzswimmer

Brave

Much like many high school horror stories, mine involved bullying. My Freshman and Sophomore year were filled with drama, and you’d thought I would’ve learned to choose my friends wisely by my Senior Year.

No such luck.

My Senior year I had to make a tough decision. I knew of someone that had completely copied my best friend’s Lab Report, which had taken her hours to write.

Sounds simple. He cheated, report him.

Except he was a pretty popular guy. At my school, basketball was the sport, as we didn’t have a football team. He played basketball, he was friends with the popular kids, and we were on friendly terms. He even came to one of my games and bragged how he’d watched me score a goal, my first one of the season.

It wasn’t an easy decision.

But I knew I had to do the right thing, even if it was the difficult one. My best friend deserved better than that. And so I stood up for her.

“Snitches get stitches?” How about “snitches” become social pariahs?

I was blacklisted amongst the Senior class. I was blamed for any other drama that stirred up amongst us, even though I hadn’t had a hand in it. It was just natural to assume that it was me. I was a “snitch” after all.

I spent the final day of my Senior Year in high school crying in the corner of one of my favorite teacher’s classrooms. That was definitely a low point in my life.

Bullying happens in all shapes and sizes. And it can happen to anyone.

Luckily, as I left high school, I learned that my experiences didn’t define who I was. I had a new set of friends in college, and high school was just a blip on my life radar.

One that I’ve learned to be grateful for.

So my message to all of you is this:

Your high school labels will only define you as long as you allow them to.

Through these experiences, I learned how to be confident in my values and who I am. I learned how to be brave in the face of adversity, even when I was doing something that was against the popular opinion.

So my advice is to learn from the negative experiences. Grow from the childish behavior. And never let anyone get you down.

Dare to be you, because nobody else can. Be as uniquely you as you can possibly be, and don’t be afraid to own up to exactly who you are.

The blank canvas is yours to fill. So make something you can be proud of.

Hey guys! Thank you for reading my #LaterHaters submission. I paired with AT&T and their anti-bullying campaign to help drown out the hate. Be sure to enter the #LaterHaters contest yourself over at the @NoMoreBullying profile on Wattpad.

I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

Choices

My commissioned sample entry for the official #LaterHaters contest, hosted by Wattpad in partnership with AT&T, the world's largest telecommunications company.

Choices

Hi readers,

 

I’m honored to be pairing up with AT&T’s #LaterHaters campaign to combat cyberbullying. Whether you have personally experienced cyberbullying or know someone who has experienced it, let’s put love on BLAST and drown out the haters.

 

Your challenge is to create a 500 word short story or message of positivity that you would say to someone or want to hear said that you. Let’s spread the love!

 

Tag your stories with #LaterHaters to enter. The top ten stories as selected by Wattpad staff and the AT&T panel will be featured on a reading list on the @NoMoreBullying profile, and will be entered to win amazing prizes!

 

Do you need inspiration? My sample entry is included in the following chapter!

 

Stories are due by November 30th at 11:59 EST. Let’s put an end to online hate!


Danielle opened her bag and double checked the contents. Her phone, a coin purse, a lock for the lockers and her swimsuit. Everything she needed for a great afternoon at the water park.

It was a Saturday in July, so the popular North Commons Water Park was packed with teenagers sporting colorful swimwear. Even though the scene looked like an illustration from Where’s Waldo, Danielle was able to spot her best friend Andrea thanks to the latter’s pumpkin colored hair.

The two girls entered the changing room and switched into their swimwear. When they emerged, the two instantly began comparing outfits.

“Your bikini is so cute!” Danielle gushed over the blue bikini that Andrea was wearing.

“Thanks, Dani!” Andrea smiled proudly. “I love yours too!”

Danielle felt a sense of self-consciousness at the compliment. Her grey one piece swimsuit was unflattering, but she didn’t have the confidence to sport a sexier outfit.

Andrea noted the change in her friend’s expression. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Danielle quickly lied, but Andrea clearly wasn’t buying it, so she told the truth. “I just think that this swimsuit is so dull, so boring, but I don’t have the courage nor the body to pull off something more revealing.”

“Dani, I love your outfit.” Andrea knew it was a matter of confidence. “Honestly. It looks great on you. Really highlights your shape.”

“Thanks, Andy.”

“Let’s take a picture!” Andrea suggested.

The two girls posed for a picture and Andrea uploaded it to Facebook. Within minutes, the comments came rolling in.

“That was quick,” Andrea remarked, giddy with anticipation.

Andrea unlocked her phone and pulled up the comments. Her jaw dropped open at the sight of the nasty words. Immediately, she turned off her phone.

But it was too late.

Curiosity had gotten the better of Danielle, who was peering over her friend’s shoulder at the reactions, and the vile lines seared into her memory.

“Your friend looks like a block of cement.”

“You went swimming with a dolphin?”

“Who’s the prude?”

At this moment, the crowded water park was the last place Danielle wanted to be. She just wanted some peace, some silence, and somewhere to change out of her hideous swimsuit.

Danielle felt an assuring hand take hers. Andrea. Her best friend held up the phone containing the offensive messages, as though to tell Danielle not to back down.

As her friend watched on anxiously, Andrea pulled up Facebook and began a live stream video. People began tuning in and a small crowd had settled when Andrea began talking.

“I’ve been receiving some hurtful comments about my friend’s choice of clothing, and I just want to say that this type of behavior is wrong.”

“We all have our own choices. What Danielle wears is her choices. You don’t have to appreciate this, but should you choose to be a bully, know that I choose to stand by her side. By supporting each other, I know we can all enjoy a world with no more bullying.”

More Than Words

My entry for the #LaterHaters contest. "Don't let their unhappiness cloud yours. You are more than words on a screen."

More Than Words

I’m pairing up with AT&T’s #LaterHaters campaign to drown out the hate and put love on blast. The contest is completely free to enter and there are some awesome prizes. All you have to do is create a 500-word short story or message of positivity that you would say to someone else or want to hear said to you. Head to the @NoMoreBullying profile for more details.

Can’t wait to see what you come up and keep on reading to see my entry!

 


Lies. It was all lies. My stomach recoiled as I read another string of mean spirited slurs. I shut off my phone and threw it on my bed. However, their words festered. Over and over they screamed, clawing till it consumed every part of me.

“Ignore them,” my mother advised.

How could I ignore the wounds they inflicted? They pierced more than my pride; they took a jab at everything I held dear. More loathing burst through the screen and I felt myself harden. How dare they attack me? Determined, I analyzed every word, every poisoned dart they threw at me, grinding them till they crumbled into dust.

There, I thought, I will not let you win. All the while I was unaware of the dust that had seeped into my skin and polluted my blood with hatred.

Silently, I seethed. They were monsters, beasts that fed off of negativity and preyed on the innocent. Well, no more. Cowards would not defeat me. I would show them what heroes were made of.

Trapped in a pit of darkness, I turned on my phone. I waited, my fingers poised over the keyboard like soldiers brandished for war. I could feel vengeance biting at my heels, panting with anticipation.

“What are you doing?” my mother asked.

“Showing them who I am.” Venom flowed through me as I typed. I relished in my cutting remarks.

“And who’s that?”

My eyes blazed. “Someone who’s not afraid. Someone who can give as good as she gets.”

“Is that all you are?”

“It’s all they deserve to see.” The concern on her face angered me. “I didn’t start this. They did. I did nothing wrong.”

“Can you say the same after you hit send?”

I glanced at the nasty words I had written, surprised at how easy they had rolled out of me.

“Are those words who you want to be?” she asked.

I blinked against the harsh light of the phone. “It’s not that simple,” I began, grasping for something I couldn’t explain.

“No, it’s not. Nothing is simple.” My mother’s hand covered mine. The gentleness of her touch made me stop and look up. I gasped. The love reflected in her eyes was such a sharp contrast to the ugliness in my heart. “Just like writing a response back isn’t simple. Don’t let their unhappiness cloud yours. You are more than words on a screen. You are a daughter. You are a friend. You are a good person. Don’t forget that.”

Her statement unfurled something in me. Shoving my anger aside, I thought about everything I had—my family, my friends, my beliefs. Instead of finding solace in them, I forced the pain inward, letting my own hurt turn toxic. My mother was right. I needed to ignore them. I needed to stop concentrating on the bad, and focus on the good.

I won’t let you turn me into you, I promised as I deleted my message.

It’s a promise I intend to keep.

Multiplayer

When Jordan is faced with rude gamers, he has the choice to unleash his godly hacker skills to teach them a lesson. But rather than stand by with a bag of popcorn, his friends sought to find an alternative way when facing cyber-bullying.

Multiplayer

“Naomi!” Jordan called out.

Naomi popped out of the kitchen, having scavenged in the fridge for something to eat. She was unsuccessful in her hunt. She’ll need to go grocery shopping later with Bennett.

“What happened, Jordan?” Naomi asked.

“Someone is being mean to me,” he whined.

“Was it Declan again?” Naomi accused.

“For once, no,” Declan said.

“I don’t mind it when Declan makes fun of me,” Jordan said. “It’s just his tsundere way to show how much he loves me.”

“No words can describe what I really am feeling right now…” Declan began, seething.

Jordan whispered, “It’s love.”

Naomi cut in before something else happened. “What’s wrong, Jordan?”

“I was playing this video game,” Jordan said. “I’m not having the best streak, but these guys keep bashing me on it.”

“Can’t you use your godly hacker skills to win the game?” Bennett asked, coming into the room.

Jordan wiped a tear away. “He called my skills ‘godly’. Bennett, can you repeat it again? I want to record it.”.

“Answer the question, Jordan.”

“Even I have a code of honor in this,” Jordan said dramatically, having been basked in a light as choir music played behind him. “I won’t use my powers just to win some petty game.”

“Jordan needs to stop messing with the sound and light system,” Declan muttered.

“Why don’t you use your hacker skills to mess with them?” Naomi offered.

“But I’ll be unleashing my godly hacker skills onto these helpless gamers who chose the wrong person to target. That will be so petty.”

“Yeah, and when have you ever been petty?” Declan said.

“Exactly,” Jordan said. “And what if I wasn’t a master hacker?”

“The world would be a better place?” Declan offered.

“No, really,” Jordan said. “What if an average person got stuck in this situation? What should they do?”

This was a first for Jordan to bring up a subject that didn’t make the others want to throw him out the window. A long silence hung over them, as the others tried to come up with a response to Jordan.

“Just log off,” Bennett said. “You won’t have to see any negative comments if you’re not there.”

“So I’ll just never use technology again?” Jordan asked. “It’s unfair that just because people are being jerks innocent people aren’t able to do the things they want.”

“I don’t think it’s an option to retaliate back…” Declan said. “You’ll just be fighting fire with fire.”

“You can always keep silent,” Naomi muttered. “They’ll have to lose fuel sometime. They won’t see a point telling the same jokes if the target isn’t making the response that they want.”

“It would be nice if people join together and defend a target,” Jordan said. “But sometimes, they’ll just be bystanders. Not wanting to be the next target.”

“Maybe…” Naomi began. “The best choice is all of our answers.”

“What do you mean?” Declan asked.

“Well it will really depends on the person on how they want to respond,” Naomi explained.

Bennett nodded, understanding. “You don’t have to stay off technology forever. At times when you face negative comments, log off and come back at a better time.”

“Then, you won’t give them the satisfaction of replying and giving them the chance to make fun of you even more,” Naomi said.

“Maybe then, you can give them a response, but not the response they want,” Declan joined in. “Kill them with kindness. Don’t fight against them, they’re probably looking for a fight already. And if they still making fun of you, then they’re really not worth the effort.”

“And sometimes, people will defend you after you have the courage to defend yourself,” Jordan said. “And people will defend you already, without you having to say a word. Being anonymous makes a person more courageous on both sides.”

“And there’s one thing you forgot about Jordan,” Naomi told him.

“What is it?”

“You can always play multiplayer with us instead of with strangers,” she said with a grin.

“It’s better to play with friends,” Bennett said as he passed out controllers.

“Who can beat your highscore,” Declan finished, nudging Jordan by the shoulder.

They all laughed and went on to do just that.

I hope you all enjoy this one shot as you continue to wait for the next chapter of the sequel. (College apps, I rather write the chapter than another writing supplement.) Tell me how you all think about my entry, and if you agree or disagree about the ways to fight against cyber bullying. Are there any other ways you can think of? Are there instances you faced or witness bullying-what did you do? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!

If my entry (somehow) inspired you to make your own story, go to @NoMoreBullying and join AT&T’s #LaterHaters writing contest. You’ll have the chance to be a winning entry! Tweet out to me when you publish your contest entry and I’ll be sure to retweet. Good luck everyone!

Love,
89201

Pivotal Moment

I’m pairing up with AT&T’s #LaterHaters campaign and I’m so excited to put love on BLAST online. While this story is short, I hope it succeeds in getting the message across!

Jacob could hear each notification that lit up his phone.

He was seated on the couch, and if he wanted to, could easily reach for it and read what his friends, family, and fans had to say about the latest photo he’d posted just a few minutes before, but something stopped him.

The bubble of fear that was growing in his stomach which told him he wouldn’t like what people had to say.

Currently in his second-year at the University of Michigan, Jacob had stepped up to the position of starting quarterback, but as he did so, he hadn’t wanted to continue hiding a part of who he was from the guys he’d grown to rely on. His teammates had stood by him when he’d come out to them in the locker room after winning their home opener that year, and everyone else he’d told thus far were nothing but supportive.

Which was why he’d thought nothing of posting a picture of him and his boyfriend of a few months, Liam, on Instagram. However, after the first comment had appeared almost immediately, he realized that it may have been a mistake.

He barely registered the doorbell ringing as he eyed the phone he’d thrown across the couch, only looking up as he heard his boyfriend’s footsteps as he stepped into the living room with confusion adorning his features.

“Is everything alright?” Liam asked, though when Jacob failed to respond, it was evident that things were not okay.

The beep of notifications caught Liam’s attention, and to satisfy his curiosity and soothe his worries, he walked over to pick up Jacob’s phone, taking a seat beside him as he swiped over one of them. A smile grew on his face at the picture that popped up, only to disappear quickly when he realized what the cause of Jacob’s distress was.

“How bad is it?” Jacob asked apprehensively.

“There are a lot more supportive people than you think,” Liam replied, continuing to scroll through the comments.

“And the rest?”

“They’re just faceless accounts attacking you from behind a screen.” Jacob gulped, having been afraid of that. “You can’t let these people’s opinions affect you Jay,” Liam said. “I know it’s hard, and the fact that the public knows who you are isn’t making it any easier, but you have to remember that the ones who really matter – me, your family, your teammates – we all have your back and are going support you however we can.”

Jacob let the words sink in, knowing that what Liam was saying was true. The hate would come, but he couldn’t let it overshadow the person he knew he was, or let it throw a wrench in his relationship. That was no way to live. “You know I love you, right?” he said softly, letting the words slip through his lips for the first time.

Liam’s eyes brightened as he shifted closer to Jacob. “I love you too.”

Sandpaper

If you could block out the haters, shut down the trolls, and put love on BLAST, what would you say? Let's replace hate with hearts!

Sandpaper

Hey everyone! I’ve paired up with AT&T to block out the haters and put love on BLAST for the #LaterHaters campaign! Spread YOUR message of love and enter the #LaterHaters writing contest for a chance at some awesome prizes! Check out the NoMoreBullying profile for more info! 

There’s nowhere you can go these days without encountering the oh-so-exasperating Hater. It seems there’s always a troll around the corner, ready to come out from under the bridge, and attack at moment’s notice. It’s easy for the haters when they can hide their faces behind an anonymous account. I see it on social media all the time. No matter what you do, you can’t avoid the trolls. Your first reaction is to defend yourself and then go on the offensive. But that’s what they want. They want you to get riled up. They want you to get angry. That’s the reason they’re attacking you— they want to instigate.

But where there are trolls, there is also the opposite— the people who want to everyone to feel safe and happy. I like to say I’m part of that crowd. One of the easiest things to do in the world is be kind. Think of writing on Wattpad. When you send someone a message of support or comment that you love their story, how does that make you feel? How does that make the writer feel? Happy. The good will block out the bad. And it only takes five seconds.

And it’s not just Wattpad where you can spread kindness. Any social media. When you comment on a friend’s selfie on Instagram saying GORGEOUS, you can be assured it makes their day. Or even just a simple text to a friend you haven’t seen a while, congratulating them on the achievements they’ve made.

With technology these days, a support system is only a text away. Whenever someone’s having a hard time, we can send positive messages. We can encourage each other and make each other laugh— gifs are a great invention. And we can comment on each other’s stories, telling each other we’re doing great.

What I’ve learned, and what I would tell others when it comes to dealing with the haters, is that you define yourself. Why would you let someone else define who you are? Who are they to tell you that you suck? Why waste time thinking about what they say about you? Here’s the big thing— they don’t know you. Don’t let them try to tell you who you are.

It may sound repetitive, but don’t let the haters get to you. There’s a quote by Chris Colfer I like to send my friends when the occasional bully pops up. It goes “When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sandpaper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.” And it’s so true. You come out stronger in the end. You learn patience. You learn that how you view yourself is more important than how someone else views you.

So when they haters show, don’t be afraid. Don’t be hurt. Be strong. Be the better person. Spread kindness.

Spread YOUR message of love and enter the #LaterHaters writing contest on #Wattpad for a chance at some awesome prizes! Check out the NoMoreBullying profile for more info!

Surviving Hating

Let's come together to make a change. Let's spread LOVE not Hate. My entry for #LaterHaters contest.

Surviving Hating

I love writing stories. I write because my mind always drifts to daydreams of adventures that I could not experience in real life. My imagination makes me feel actual emotions and go into my world that I have control over. Everything becomes real in my mind. It gives me happiness and fulfillment within.

My journey as a writer started when I encountered an online app for readers and amateur writers. For me, it was a dream come true. It gave me the opportunity to develop my craft and share my stories to other people online.

Things were going well in the first few months. I gained countless followers and readers. Their positive feedback fueled me to keep on writing and made a connection with them. I was ecstatic with the result and felt contentment within myself. My confidence accelerated and life became more meaningful.

But, the road to success is not always easy. There are hurdles and challenges to overcome. I felt a big blow to my confidence when the internet trolls infiltrated my account. I was caught off guard at first and did not know what to do. It was an unknown territory for me. I was used to getting praise and admiration for my work but I felt weak facing criticism and attacks. I started to entertain feelings of self doubt which lowered my self esteem and made me question the essence of being a writer.

At the lowest point of my writing career, I took a good look of myself and started to ask myself these questions. What made me go into writing? Why am I passionate in telling stories? Am I ready to call it quits? Is it worth to pursue?

Being able to do this made me come back to the roots of it all. I was doing it for myself to fulfill my fantasy. I get to escape reality and live the life that I want. Overall, I’m a storyteller at my core.

I realized in pursuing a goal you have to be prepared for anything. On social media there are a fair share of haters, bashers and internet trolls. I need to be emotionally strong and mature in handling criticisms. We can’t let them affect our confidence, rather take it as a challenge to empower us. Energy and time should not be wasted to respond to them and never allow them to belittle us or destroy our passion.

As a writer, I want to spread positivity to my readers. Telling stories that promote love and compassion for others is at the center of my work. In the craft of writing, one should be mature enough to handle the good and the bad side of each experience. Be strong to overcome vulnerability and become stronger and wiser in the end.

_____________

Hey guys!

Did you like my story? It’s actually my personal experience on how I dealt with online hating and bashing. So, let’s come together to make a change. Let’s drown out the haters with hearts.

I’m pairing up with AT&T’s #LaterHaters campaign and taking a permanent vacay from the negativity. The more positivity and hearts out there, the more we can drown out the hate.

Head to the @NoMoreBullying profile here on Wattpad to enter the #LaterHaters writing contest for a chance at some awesome prizes!

Don’t miss this chance. Join now!

Words Matter

Sometimes, a stranger will tell you exactly what you need to hear. #LaterHaters

Words Matter

Hi, guys! I’m so excited to present my entry for the #LaterHaters contest here on Wattpad! I’ve paired up with AT&T to drown out the online hate with hearts — so I hope you enjoy Artie’s story!

Want to get involved? Head to the @NoMoreBullying profile for the full contest details, and write your own story for the chance to win some incredible prizes. Good luck!

***

I knew Artie for his stories.

He’d always been the star of English class, but these weren’t school projects. They were personal, stitched together with words you could tell came from the heart, not the prompt on an assignment.

Incidentally, English class was where I discovered them. We all hated having to stand up and read aloud what we’d written—all except Artie. He’d stand there unfazed, and the words that poured out were strung together with such delicate talent that I found myself hanging onto each one. The excerpt ended with a heart-wrenching cliffhanger, and I was left longing for more.

“You have to finish that,” I’d told him, when he sat back down. “I need to know what happens.”

He smiled gratefully, but didn’t tell me. Instead, he passed over a slip of paper, on which he’d scribbled two things: a website and username.

Later that evening, I looked it up. My laptop opened his page, and I was faced with a whole collection of fiction: full novels, patchwork anthologies, passing thoughts just half a page long, all hidden in his own small corner of the internet. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.

For a while, I was the only one that knew. It was just me on the edge of my seat, silently enthralled, craving the next installment.

But a few months later, someone from school found out, and they weren’t so kind.

The news spread with the speed of light. Apparently, even in this day and age, a guy with an incredible talent for romance stories just couldn’t be left alone. Steady encouragement in the comment section turned into a tirade of ugly, unnecessary abuse—all from cowards hiding behind anonymous avatars.

Reading it made me feel sick; I couldn’t imagine how Artie felt. He never replied, never once gave them the satisfaction—but I did notice how his posts became gradually less frequent. What once had been a chapter a day became barely a hundred words a month. They were winning.

I missed the stories, the worlds, the way his writing made me feel. Most of all, though, I missed the way Artie would come alive beside me in English class.

I’d spent months holding silent appreciation, but that had to change. I knew that much. So one evening, alone in my room, I found my voice. The words escaped through my fingertips, dancing across the keyboard, setting free what I’d never before let Artie know.

I wasn’t quite brave enough to attach my name, but I did sign off with something I thought spoke louder.

Your words matter.

It was one message among too many others, but it seemed to shine.

I didn’t know whether Artie read it, let alone what he thought. He wasn’t one to bask in compliments. But his words kept coming, which meant so did mine.

It was several years later that I had a shock in the bookstore. Still a broke college student, brand new books were a luxury, so I was taking my time choosing what was worthy of my birthday gift card. As my gaze flickered from one to the next, a name suddenly jumped out—and recognition made my heart skip a beat.

It was Artie’s.

It felt weird to see the words on paper, not a screen, and I couldn’t help smiling. I was flicking through the pages when something caught my eye, and my insides flipped. The dedication page.

Dedicated to someone special, it read. Someone who once told me what I needed to hear: that my words matter.