It’s no secret that the internet makes people mean. It used to be that if someone didn’t like you or what you had to say, they had to tell you in person. These days, if someone doesn’t like what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, or just the way that you do your hair, they can shoot off a nasty email, tweet or youtube comment right away.
It’s great that we can upload videos instantly, and participate in interesting conversations online. But in doing so we also open ourselves up to the opinions of strangers. And strangers can be cruel, especially when they’re feeling safely anonymous.
It’s a great time to be a writer. It’s wonderful to be able to post rough drafts of stories on Wattpad or Figment to gain a fanbase, or join hundreds of other authors on twitter. There are forums full of writers who are eager to share their experiences, and sites where you can get thoughtful critiques on your work. But writers are now open to newer, faster ways of having our work ripped to shreds.
Please note, this post is not about reviews on goodreads or amazon or even the old fashioned reviews in newspapers. There is only one way you should respond to actual reviews, and that’s not at all. Once you’ve set your book baby free into the world, it’s inevitably going to get negative reviews, and how to deal with those could fill an entirely different post. This particular post is about biting comments sent directly to you, addressed directly to you. They might be on your blog, they might be in the comment section of your most recent youtube video. They might be “mean tweets” or an email that lands in your inbox that makes you cringe.
How Do You Deal?
Accept that the comment bothers you. Even allow yourself to fume. Get it out. Pace back and forth and tell your dog how stupid that person must be, how small-minded they are. Your dog will sympathize and agree. Perhaps punch a pillow or two, or savage a bar of chocolate. Some people find it helps to sit out and write a reply and then delete it.
But Don’t Answer.
If it’s a truly nasty comment, one that has you really worked up, don’t answer it. Don’t waste your time and energy on that person. Not only will you be investing your energy into someone who doesn’t deserve it, but you’ll come off looking bad. Answering a snarky comment with another snarky comment only makes you look like you’ve taken the bait. That you’ve lost your temper and you’re barking back. Resist the impulse.
Look For Value.
There’s a big difference between a harsh critique, and an internet troll throwing flaming balls of poo at you.
Is it possible that the comment has any merit? Maybe it was a critique that was worded rather badly, but they have a few valid points. In that case, try to calm down and think about how you can apply this. There, now that person, as miserable as they’ve just made you, has actually helped you. You will stumble across some people that are actually trying to help, they just may not know how to word things tactfully. Keep in mind, take everything with a grain of salt. A beta reader that tells you something like “you should stop writing” or “stick to your day job” needs to be jettisoned promptly. If the critique is doing more damage than help, then ignore it
When There’s No Value.
If there isn’t any value don’t reply. Comments like “You suck and your mom dresses you funny”, are not worth the energy. Just move on. Don’t answer, try not to dwell on it. Don’t let the hater take up head space.
When To Delete.
If you’re like me, you might go back and browse through your comment section more than once. If you think you’re going to continue to stumble on that same comment and get upset about it all over again, then delete it. Some people might complain about “freedom of speech” and how you shouldn’t delete internet comments. But it’s YOUR blog/facebook page/youtube video.
Your house, your rules.
Your youtube video/comment/blog post/novel isn’t necessarily bad just because a few people have negative things to say. There will always be people that don’t like things that everyone else seems to love. Everyone has different taste. The Harry Potter books have bad reviews. There are people that hate chocolate. And puppies.
Okay, can anyone really hate puppies?
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/cotidad/2096051939/”>cotidad</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmsmith/40124432/”>dsmithok</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>