Suck it up sweetheart

Friday, July 18, 2014 Permalink

Someone in the Aussie Bloggers Facebook Forum recently asked the group how to respond to a very negative comment they received on their blog. I watched for the responses with great interest.

Fortunately on the whole I fly under the radar. I do – however – get the occasional unhappy reader or frustrated responder. And. It. Absolutely. Kills. Me.

A few years ago I got a negative comment on my diet blog that almost led me to quit blogging. (The person basically told me I was fucked in the head and needed mental help. God, HELLO?! I say that all of the time, but…)

From salon.com

From salon.com

I’ve probably only written a couple of snipey or sarcastic posts which have warranted any negativity and it was undoubtedly deserved. But it doesn’t stop it gnawing at me. Indeed, I freak out if someone’s nasty to me on Twitter (which I did the other night when someone called me a tosser!), so I have no idea how I’d cope if I was a ‘known’ blogger and dealing with online trolls or if I was someone who put themselves out there more and had to deal with rejection.

I’ve done a bit of reading and most of the advice when it comes to negative feedback seems pretty much the same.

1. Try to look objectively at what you’ve done or said and what you’ve been ‘accused’ of. Could the accuser be correct?

Try to see it from their point of view. Perhaps you haven’t been as clear as you’d like or perhaps you’re wr-wr-wrong.

2. Are they really being nasty, or just disagreeing?

We’re all entitled to our opinions. Someone not agreeing with us isn’t the end of the world, but have they done it in a polite way? (For example, I thought the person who called me a tosser the other night was out of line. I’d expressed an opinion – that I wished all spousal violence / murders, received the publicity and outrage that a current case in Australia has been receiving – and if someone disagreed with me… I’d never call them a tosser!)

3. Is it worth it?

Are you prepared to go to the mattresses on the issue?

Generally, if someone just disagrees with what I’ve written I’ll thank them for their comment and accept that they’re entitled to their own opinion. (Of course I’m usually sure they’re wrong and feel sorry that they suffer from such delusions, but… 😉 )

If someone’s rude or snarky I’ll try not to get into a slanging match. In the past I’ve occasionally tried to explain my point of view, but realise sometimes there’s no point. I also don’t believe in airing dirty laundry in public and cringe when I see people having arguments on Facebook or the toing and froing that ensues.

The ‘you need mental help’ comment I mentioned above, I left on my blog (ie. didn’t delete), but I emailed the person directly.

I’d written a very tongue-in-cheek post about a day of eating… on my birthday when I get my annual cheesecake and basically ate badly all day. I don’t think the person ‘got’ the sarcasm and couldn’t understand my glibness about it. In fairness to them however, they weren’t a long-time reader and had no idea I’d had/have eating disorders and was far from declaring myself ‘sane’ when it came to food anyway!

It worked. The person responded and apologised for their reaction but I realised that my glibness isn’t always appreciated and perhaps I need to add some context in future.

Of course, much of my fear (and that of others) when it comes to negative feedback comes from that desire to be ‘accepted’ and worrying too much about what others think. The evolved part of me realises that we’re entitled to our opinion and feelings and should feel free to write about it (as many journalists and columnists do); however, while I feel the need to be honest in my blogs my fear of rejection remains strong.

So… I wonder: how do others cope with online criticism, trolls or even criticism IRL (in real life)?

23 Comments
  • Jess
    July 18, 2014

    I hate criticism to be honest! Even if it is constructive it makes me feel bad. I am a tiny blogger so I dont get many comments positive or negative. But I did get a person last year make a string of negative comments on various posts. The first few I deleted cause I was so upset. Then I left a few and finally I decised to visit their blog and leave positive comments. I find being nice to someone who is being an a** can throw them a bit. It worked and they were never negative again. I did notice they received a lot of negative comments on their blog so it made me think they are generally negative to others.

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2014

      I’d never leave a negative comment on a blog. I might disagree with something and joke a bit about having a differing point of view but I don’t see the point in leaving hate comments. I don’t get why people feel compelled to do that. Just. Stop. Reading. It!

      I’ve unfollowed some people on FB and Twitter if I’ve really struggled with their opinions. I don’t see the point in ranting at them.

  • Lisa (@lybliss)
    July 18, 2014

    I don’t understand why people leave nasty comments on blogs, it seems to me it reflects negatively on them, not the blog post. I have been lucky enough to not have had nastiness towards my blog. I did have a nasty moment on twitter ( when I didn’t get outraged over a middle aged mans silly breastfeeding comment) , one twitterer called my a complacent C*** , which was harsh! Interestingly she has since interacted with me nicely, but every time I see her comments, I think “Ah yes, but I know your true colours…”
    I do unfollow people if I can’t get on the same wavelength as them. If they are constantly and deliberately trying to cause a social media argument. I just can’t be bothered with that in my feed. xx

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2014

      True and I think that’s a great approach Lisa!

  • Jody at Six Little Hearts
    July 18, 2014

    Whoa! There are some people with big issues out there! I have seen people really go to town on FB threads before and personally, I feel sorry for them. Imagine living life with such a nasty or poor outlook? I don’t really do anything ‘political’ enough to draw these kinds of criticisms but I believe people should control their responses and behaviours. The internet is forever after all and it justs reflects badly on them as a person.

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2014

      I agree. The most difficult part for me is not to feel hurt or defensive. Even if I can see their point or even if I know they’re an idiot!

  • Lee-Anne
    July 18, 2014

    An interesting post, Deb. I agree with Lisa negative comments reflect on the writer not the recipient. On first starting Twitter I got an offended response from a really nice person but that was because I gormlessly assumed everyone got irony out there in Twitterland. I apologised and explained my tweet, and we’re ‘friends’ now. The trouble is most of my blog posts are flippant and I recently received a very serious comment from a very LITERAL man on my post, ‘Average is the New Black’ which was all a bit silly and self-mocking. He thought I was suggesting that we are all average and should never strive for excellence! Seriously. 🙂

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2014

      Oh yes, like you I’m often flippant (and self deprecating etc) but (also like you) don’t have too many problems. I can’t imagine how I’d cope if I was actually writing novels and putting my manuscript out and about!

  • Pinky Poinker
    July 18, 2014

    I would hide in a corner with my tail between my legs. I couldn’t cope. But I am a big chicken guts and try not to write anything remotely antagonistic. There have been times (like last night) when I have one too many wines and get on Twitter with a bad attitude, regret it in the morning and go back and delete my tweets. Fortunately, most people ignore me anyway.
    I could never be famous. I don’t know how they put up with the criticism. People can be so unkind.

    • Debbish
      July 18, 2014

      Oh yes… so true. I wonder if people ever get used to it, or whether their self-esteem / confidence slowly gets battered into submission.

      I read a post by a US blogger recently who’d gotten a lot of hate stuff and she had someone else moderate her comments before she looked at them. Anyone just disagreeing etc was fine, but anything nasty just got deleted before she had to see it.

      • Pinky Poinker
        July 21, 2014

        Fantastic idea. That’s what all sensitive souls should do!

  • Toni @ Finding Myself Young
    July 18, 2014

    Firstly, I love trolls! The toys not the online version. I used to have a massive collection of them as a kid.

    I’ve only ever had two negative comments on my blog. I thought about deleting them but then I remember how crazy people will probably just come back and leave a million other negative ones if I did that. Instead I just responded in a nice, slightly sarcastic way as to why I didn’t agree with their opinion, but made sure not to say they were wrong. Basically my response made them look stupid in a classy way so they never came back. Problem solved.

  • Jo Tracey
    July 18, 2014

    I reckon I’ve had about 2- & I could recite them word for word. They still hurt. When (ahem) I’m a famous writer, (ahem ahem) I won’t be able to read my own reviews. By the way- nice troll.

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    July 18, 2014

    Without trying to sound like a fug head, I have not go any negative comments and I actually feel that I want one. It shows that you have hit a nerve, that what you say is making people think! Perhaps I need to get nastier?

    • Debbish
      July 19, 2014

      Or at least more sarcastic or glib Emily!

  • Char
    July 19, 2014

    I haven’t had any on my blog but once a comment of mine was taken as a criticism when it wasn’t meant that way. I’d actually intended it as a complement but it somehow got lost in translation. I was mortified because I would never deliberately set out to offend anyone so I apologised and tried to explain how it was meant and then never returned to her blog.

    • Debbish
      July 19, 2014

      Char, I used to HATE smiley faces etc but sometimes I now add them to paragraphs or comments to make sure people know I’m joking! (No smiley face needed!)

  • Druime @SnippetsandSpirits
    July 21, 2014

    I read this with interest Deb. I am a teeny tiny blogging fish. So I have not received any negative feedback. I would like to think I would not care but it depends I guess. You handled it well with your email.

    • Debbish
      July 22, 2014

      Thanks. I just wish I coped better with other negative comments!

  • Persephone
    July 30, 2014

    Very interesting post and comments from everyone. I haven’t had many negative comments on my blog, but in life generally I try to just rise above it. Getting caught up in other people’s anger and/or bitterness brings you down too. And is such a waste of time.

    • Debbish
      July 30, 2014

      Oh yes, true (and I do know better)… but I still wish I was more resilient!

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