A TikToker was mocked for mispronouncing 'painting.' However, after finding out he'd spent years in speech class, trolls apologized to him personally.
- After Kyle McCarthy posted a TikTok about one of his favorite artists, commenters mocked his speech.
- McCarthy told viewers the comments were hurtful and dredged up memories of attending speech class.
34-year-old short filmmaker Kyle McCarthy shared a fairly standard TikTok on April 9. He introduced one of his favorite artists, Oliver Jeffers, and explained why he loved his unusual style of dipping detailed paintings in enamel. It racked up more than 720,000 views.
To Jeffers' surprise and dismay, many of the comments were not about the contents of his video, but about him and making fun of his pronunciation of the word "painting." McCarthy told Insider he had attended speech class for years as a child, and the comments dredged up painful feelings.
Do you know about The Dipped Painting Project by Oliver Jeffers?♬ aisatsana  - Aphex Twin
That same day, McCarthy posted a response: "I didn't realize it was socially acceptable to make fun of the way people talk," he said in another TikTok.
McCarthy said he expected trolls, or "anonymous people," to behave that way, but he was genuinely disappointed that several users with sizable followings were emboldened to ridicule him.
Commenters from his original TikTok were fixated on how he pronounced the word "painting," without the full "ing" suffix. "I love me a good ole paint'n," one person riffed. Another simply wrote, "#paintin."
However, after McCarthy faced his trolls, he told Insider he received personal apologies from those who had written hurtful things.
McCarthy believes most people scrolling through the app are not malicious, but perhaps a bit absentminded.
"Some people were like, 'I'm sorry, like I was just trying to be silly. I didn't realize your past with speech and stuff'," he said of direct messages he's received.
"When someone says something mean, I have to often think ... you know, they don't realize they're wrecking my day."
@kylemakesshortfilms Replying to @gentlearies ♬ Present - Lloyd Vaan
For McCarthy, the apologies meaningfully changed his experience about going viral.
"In my head, when I see a mean comment, I'm like, 'Why? What drives someone to like say something like that?'" McCarthy told Insider. "For someone to be like, 'Hey, I'm sorry. That wasn't kind of me, and I didn't fully think it through' — that makes me feel empathy for them."
However, not every troll apologized. And as the video is now racking up views on Instagram, he's seeing similarly negative comments. But it stings less now.
"The kindness that I received afterward outweighed all the negative comments," McCarthy said.
@kylemakesshortfilms Replying to @ashcapps ♬ All At Once - Andrew Kamen
Today, he remains proud of his video about Oliver Jeffers, who remains McCarthy's favorite contemporary artist. Jeffers has even commented on it to praise his understanding of his work. "He inspires my kids, he inspires me," McCarthy said. "To be noticed by him is cool, and McCarthy wants to celebrate it."
The apologies and influx of kind and inclusive TikTok comments have heartened McCarthy.
"I just wanted to say thank you to every person who reached out and left a kind comment — encouraging me to celebrate my uniqueness and not be embarrassed by it," he told viewers on April 11. "I want to stay on this side of TikTok where people celebrate neurodiversity."
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