Taylor Swift is one of the biggest stars in the world, with seemingly every imaginable privilege: fame, fortune, influence, respect, and not to mention beauty, impressive friends, and romantic partners. All of these things can make it hard to empathize with her — but like everyone, she’s also privy to scrutiny and abuse, albeit on a global stage.
Swift launched her Reputation Concert Tour this past Tuesday in Glendale, Arizona, and talked about her own reputation onstage.
“A couple of years ago, someone called me a snake on social media, and it caught on,” Swift told the audience. “Then, a lot of people were calling me a lot of things on social media. And I went through some really low times for a while because of it. I went through some times when I didn’t know if I was going to get to do this anymore.”
Swift was referring to an episode in 2016, when she publicly condemned West for calling her a “b—” and taking credit for her fame in his then-new song “Famous.”
The lyric was as follows: “Me and Taylor might have sex / Why? I made that b— famous.”
Things escalated from there, when West’s wife Kim Kardashian uploaded a secretly recorded phone call to Snapchat that seemed to show Swift knew about the lyrics in advance and gave her stamp of approval. The veracity of the call is up for debate, since it was choppy and heavily edited, in addition to there being no record of West’s warning to Swift that he was going to use the b-word.
Regardless, the feud ignited a media storm, with many of Swift’s detractors rejoicing in her misfortune. Such detractors have long considered her “fake” and an avid user of “the victim card” as evident in her music, which famously documents her many high-profile romances.
On Tuesday, Swift talked to her concert audience about how she’s come to understand that she must simply disengage with such antagonism directed at her.
“I wanted to send a message to you guys that if someone uses name-calling to bully you on social media, and even if a lot of people jump on board with it, that doesn’t have to defeat you,” she said. “It can strengthen you instead.”
The audience cheered.
“I think that the lesson is that you shouldn’t care so much if you feel misunderstood by a lot of people who don’t know you, as long as you feel understood by the people who do know you—the people who will show up for you, the people who see you as a human being,” she continued. “So thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to get to know me, for showing up for me, for seeing me as a human being.”
Who among us has not endured this form of abuse at some point? Interpersonal exchanges can be fraught with tension and conflict because no two people are alike. It is the blessing and curse of the living, and honestly, the world cannot exist without it.
Misunderstanding and a clash of perspectives is always possible. When they occur, it’s human to be hurt and defensive, even if we have truth on our side.
As Swift emphasized, it’s our immediate circle that matters most.
What matters most is the people we care about and people who truly try to understand us. If one person, or many, dislikes us, all that matters is how we feel about ourselves, and that we lead our lives without purposely hurting others. The rest is not meant to be if it functions only on misconceptions and fallacies of our beings.