Wednesday, April 12

How To Handle Online Negativity

I have officially made it. I now receive mean tweets.

Now, that's not to say I've never faced any negativity as a blogger before.

On a couple of occasions over the years I have been called to task because I didn't ask tough enough questions of my celebrity interviewees (for example, about political/religious beliefs that don't mesh with mine, or about alleged indiscretions of theirs), but I explained that I keep things light here (the blog is called "This Mom Loves" after all). Most of those commenters at least made their point in a respectful way, they just disagreed with how I handled something, which is their right.

There have also been a few other incidents here and there, but when someone insults you publicly you don't necessarily want to relive it by sharing it with your readers after the fact.

Lately, things seem to have picked up. Just hours after one of my appearances on The Social, someone sent several very critical tweets about the way I spoke...from an anonymous account with an egg for a profile photo, of course. The account had just been set up and those were the only tweets, leading me to believe that someone created an account strictly for the purpose of hurting me. Classy, right?





A couple of promoted Facebook campaigns have also been interesting. When sharing a contest for a drug store, there were several "Scam alert!" comments, as well as a few, "If it's really {pharmacy name} running this contest, why is it on your page and not theirs?" Well, because that's how blog campaigns work. While these sorts of (paranoid) comments are really no big deal, I still don't appreciate my integrity being called into question. (And really, it's a sad commentary on our society that people have to be on such high scam alert.)

I also worked with a razor company and shared a Facebook post for their brand. Do you have any idea how passionate women are about shaving (or not shaving)? I mean, sure, leave a critique of the product if you want. But the fact that I shared shaving safety tips with my daughter led one commenter to launch a full attack on my parenting, my messed up idea of beauty, and the fact that I am raising my daughters to judge others by an unattainable standard. (Several others came to my defense, and the woman later apologized, explaining that she thought it was an ad. Which it was. Marked with #ad. But I'm still a real person.)

The biggest question for me as I navigate all of this is how to respond to the negativity. I turned to my much-more-famous-than-I-am friend Cynthia Loyst, co-host of The Social and creator of FindYourPleasure.com for her philosophy:











"When it comes to negative comments, there have been times I have blocked, times I have ignored and times I have responded and engaged.  But then I came to the realization that I would much rather spend my time and energy focusing on the positive comments, rather than the snarly ones. The people who leave awful words are generally miserable - why should anyone waste their energy on that? As a wise person once said: don't feed the trolls. 

Oh and one more thing: sometimes I try to find the humour in it. There is a lot of power in humour so rather than getting upset, when I can see the comments as something ridiculously funny, it immediately takes the sting away. Sometimes it's good to just lighten up. Life is way too short to be bothered by the words of someone you don't know nor care about."

There are some who choose to look on the bright side, like writer Alicia McAuley who recently shared this tweet:



I've seen Cheryl Hickey, host of ET Canada, use the "kill 'em with kindness" approach, replying to mean tweets with things like, "I'm sorry to hear you're having such a bad day," or "I hope your day gets better!", responses which always make me smile. Engaging, yet defusing. Because really, you're never going to make a hater see something your way. (And Cheryl is likely on the right track - someone who is truly happy would not feel a need to bring someone down that way.)




If we want to go really high-profile, we can take a cue from superstar Jennifer Lopez, who told Glamour magazine:

"I always joke about letting the haters motivate you. Everybody has that in their life, people who doubt them or make them feel less than they are. It just takes faith and belief in yourself, and you’ve got to dig deep into that. That has to come from you—nobody’s going to give you that."

As for my own haters, while my instinct in the moment is often to reply to them in my own defense, I have seen much better results by just letting it go (and blocking when necessary).

Even people who aren't officially in the public eye still receive mean responses to what they share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond. Has this happened to you? What do you think the best philosophy is?


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