Is it just me or has the internet been extra angry lately? By internet of course I mean people on the internet (before someone makes a smart-ass comment about how the internet is not angry in and of itself because it is an entity – yes, I know). Whether you write online or are an avid participant in commenting, the likelihood is that you’ve had some hate directed your way. If you’re honest, maybe you’ve also directed hate at someone else while sitting on your computer, letting the anger spew through the touch of your fingers.
It goes without saying that when people do not actually see the person or people they direct their words at; the freedom to be callous is heightened. You’ve probably heard a version of this idiom, “If you want to lose faith in humanity, read the comments section of anything online.” I choose to believe that most people are not this hateful but simply get caught up in the heat of their emotions and given the relative seclusion and anonymity the internet brings, let their emotions run rampant. It would seem as if internet users sometimes forget that the person on the other side of the comment is a real person who has their own capabilities and limitations, feelings and emotions, and a person if nothing else, who is deserving of human respect and dignity, even if we disagree with them.
I get it. When you give people the freedom to say what they want and to do so with little to no repercussions, they will exercise that right to the fullest. And whether they should or shouldn’t is not my concern today – that is a much bigger conversation. Today, I just want to provide a little bit of encouragement and if nothing else insight on how to deal with internet hate.
1. Realize That Making Waves Causes Anger
When you write about something that matters and you choose to take a stance on something, in the first place recognize that other people are probably on the other side of that issue and with that, their entitlement to disagree. So separate disagreement from hate, even if the disagreement is very harshly-worded. Hate is not disagreement. With the hate, do yourself a favor and smile at it. Dare I say, even laugh. For people to be so bitter about someone they probably hardly know, about a perspective that always ends up being limited in its comprehension over space and time online, is rather amusing if you think about it.
2. Focus On The Positives
The sad truth is, as with many things, whether it’s a post written or a comment that ended up drawing a lot of attention, most people end up focusing on the negatives. No matter how negative the overall reaction to anything you write on the internet is, you probably still have a few people who are rooting for you and will wholeheartedly defend you and your position. You probably have more who don’t feel the need to voice their opinion. In marketing, it’s widely known that people are more likely to respond to a negative experience than a positive one so keep this in mind, while focusing on the positives.
3. Don’t Take It Personally
I know, I know, easier said than done. Sometimes people will try to make you feel small and it can hurt. But you have to ask yourself these questions seriously: How many of these people directing anger at you actually know you? How many of them matter? It’s a good exercise to practice both online and offline. And above all, remember that people could just be having a bad day or you might have struck a nerve that has absolutely nothing to do with you or what you said. When it comes to how people respond to anything, always remember that what they say, says much more about them than it ever will about you.