Yesterday, I got my first hate mail email. It isn’t the first time someone has said something cruel to me, I’ve heard it all in high school! But, even though the email wasn’t dripping with obscenities, it still has me feeling a little discouraged. The email was in regards to the similarities between my blog and another very popular blogger’s. Now, I’m sure everyone knows that similarities are always going to be found in this world, but it really hurts when you put yourself out there and put in a lot of effort into something you find joy in only to be told you’re a fake or a reflection of everyone else but yourself.
I am very much my own person! I work hard to learn everything I can to grow to be the best makeup artist and blogger I can be. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have worked very hard to love myself again and when I finally put myself out there, and say “Hello! I’m Brittany and I’m a fantastic, worthwhile person!” someone finds it necessary to refute that…
Doe, it’s no secret that you have seen meaner people in this world, how did you keep yourself from becoming discouraged and continue to follow your dreams and become successful icon for all of us with indie dreams along the way?
Congratulations on your first negative feedback: you got noticed! It’s time to celebrate, but why do you feel so down? Let’s be honest: discouragement, self-doubt & apathy are all typical when confronted with not-so-nice feedback. Whether what is said is true or not, nobody likes to be criticized. A friend of mine who has a YouTube channel once said, “Why do I bother making and editing these videos when all I ever get in response is negativity and hate?”
Sometimes, hate is an indicator that you’re doing something wrong. Sometimes, it means you’re actually doing something right, and larger numbers of people are finding out about you (including those meanies who just can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves). So what do you do? Give them a piece of your mind and block their email forever or consider their point of view and send a thoughtful response? It all depends on whether what you’re dealing with is actually hate or criticism.
Hate VS Criticism
Not all negative reactions are hate. Some of them can contain valuable feedback you should be paying close attention to, no matter how hard they are to swallow. To tell hate from criticism, I try to look out for the following indicators:
- Is the comment intended to be hurtful?
There is a way to express the same message in a way that’s hateful & offensive (“Your effin’ blog stinks!”) and critical in a constructive way (“I think your blog is derivative and could use more original content.”) The dividing line is the intent behind it. Is the comment meant to be hurtful or expresses a concern? What is the tone? It can be difficult to tell online sometimes, so I find it helpful to read the text with different intonations.
Profanity is a dead give-away: if someone is calling names, their goal is just to spit venom, not solve a problem. Such comments offer no choice but to be ignored, as there is nothing you can do. A concerned comment, however critical in nature, leaves room for a response and allows you to make things right — even if it’s overtime. This type of comment is the most valuable you can get, and should be taken seriously and acted upon if possible. It will only allow you to grow.
- Is the comment anonymous?
Constructive criticism is more likely to have a real name and face attached to it. I’m not trying to discount anonymous opinions altogether — they can be used positively, such as in research and democratic voting — but when it comes to expressing negative emotion online, anonymity takes on a different character. Because of the technological disconnect, we sometimes type up things we wouldn’t normally say to a person’s face, and come off way angrier than we normally would be in a similar situation off-line. Take all anonymous negative feedback with a grain of salt.
Bottom line: constructive criticism allows you to learn and improve, whereas hate is just… hate.
Some of the world’s most successful people are the ones criticized the most. It seems, no matter how nice, positive and happy you are, there is always someone wanting to tear you down (sometimes the nicer you are, the more determined they are to find a flaw). People do it for millions of different reasons: intimidation, jealousy, boredom, depression. I’ve seen the worst and the best of people online, and I can honestly say that the meanies are by far outnumbered (just because you have a loud mouth doesn’t make you more significant)! It comes down to simple mathematics: do most people enjoy what you do? Does the number of positive emails outweigh the negative? More importantly, do you enjoy what you do? When you started your blog, you probably did it because you had something exciting to contribute, and only you have the power to quit.
Deerlings: If you ever got a hateful letter or comment, we feel ya! How did you respond to it?