How to deal with Online Haters/Trolls
Like Taylor Swift said in her song.. “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate… “
You’ve heard me say it before, no matter what you do, how nice you are or how great and innocent your content is, it will always attract negativity, it is one of those unwritten rules of the online world. Just last week I was talking about this subject with a friend when I mentioned that even the most innocent videos of animals and children get a backlash.
I was inspired to write this post after I saw a friend of mine get some online hate on Twitter. Most of us who decide to put ourselves online and share anything of value, at some point have been at the receiving end of online haters/trolls. As adults, the older we get, we tend to, putting it bluntly, not give a f*ck about what anyone says about us, but it made me think of the younger generations and those who are not as strong minded as some of us may be.
So together with some amazing buddies of mine, I decided to write this article. Feel free to share it with anyone who might be at the receiving end of some online hate and might need some positive words.
Let me start by saying, YOU are enough, YOU are a unique individual, YOU are amazing and if you are getting some negative comments, etc, it means you are doing something right!
So who within my circle was dealing with haters last week? It was the one and only David Calle. For those who don’t know David, he is the CEO and Founder of Unicoos and BeUnicoos. Known as the “YouTube Professor”, his channel is among the three most important educational channels in the Spanish-speaking world and he was a “ 2017 Global Teacher Prize” Top 10 Finalist. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers and he simply is a great role model for the younger generations. If you want to know more about him, stay tuned as he will soon be featured in one of my interviews ;)
Now that you know who he is, you can see why I was surprised when I saw some hate being thrown his way, I mean, come on! an individual who is dedicating his time to create free content to help students be better? How can anyone say anything bad about him? But ohhh yesss, the haters are lurking everywhere! I was looking at my screen and even though I hardly ever reply to haters, I had to put a comment myself in support of David, I was just in disbelief of what I was reading.
I had a chat with David afterward and this is what he had to say:
“Until I was nominated for the Global Teacher Prize (I already had more than a million followers on YouTube), in 6 years, I had never received an attack. That nomination (and participating in a debate and an advert on television) however, put me in the spotlight. I still remember that first hater attack, following a tweet.
The worst thing is that, out of pure innocence, I tried to politely give my opinion, argue, and even apologize. I could not understand the origin of such virulence, especially by a group I had always defended. It did not help. I was frustrated and quite bewildered.
Each word, each phrase I wrote, were again misinterpreted and only served so that they could replicate again.
Since then, if the criticism is ill-mannered or profane, I proceed to block immediately. If not, only rarely do I respond, always trying from an ironic, love and respect point of view, to try to “disarm" them, without trying to defend myself in excess, after all, what they want is to feed their ego and earn likes among his followers at the cost of attacking someone "important" or who seems or is far from his ideological bubble.
There's nothing like sending a gif with a kiss or a hug or even nothing. They get angrier, and they will probably continue.
I respect my followers and I think they follow me for who I am and what I do, not to see how I argue with others. In fact, the danger is to pay more attention to them than to the (silent) majority that is with you. When I understood that, everything was much better, sometimes I even enjoy it.”
I love David’s point of view. Did you see how he said at the beginning he was frustrated? This happens to most people who see hate for the first time. You try to defend yourself, to make your case to no avail. The key here is to know that you don’t need to explain yourself to anybody. As David said, most haters/trolls are trying to feed their ego.
It all comes down to your mental attitude and strength. It is pure psychology 101 that in life, human beings want to be “liked”, “accepted by people”, so when that doesn’t happen, they try to figure out why. Remember, personalities clash in life, not everyone is going to like you and many people will be envious of your accomplishments.
Focus on the positives always, if you can train/rewire your mind to understand those basic principles, you will start to see negative comments/online haters as “white noise”.
When I got my first experience many years ago with online haters, just like David, I also tried to answer back, to say my peace, but the more I got into the conversation, the more they would attack. Trolls eventually get tired and move on to the next person if you don’t feed their conversation. There is only so much they can say if no one replies or is listening. It’s like a kiddie’s ride, it will only keep going if you put coins in, but if you stop, the ride stops too, get it?
It is a true fact of life, that sometimes, that online hate even comes from people we know! People we thought were friends or were riding with us, but in reality, were hoping we didn’t make it or we didn’t surpass them.
As an example, not that long ago, someone I used to respect said to me “my work is a little bit more important than yours” ( there is a lot more to this story, but it’s not relevant here, maybe for a life lesson another day) I was perplexed for a bit since it was someone I knew, but I didn’t react, reply, nor did I let it affect me. I vented to someone in my close circle about it, he gave me some of his wisdom then I let it go.
The one piece of advice I have is, don’t vent online or reply to the haters no matter who they are, as you are giving them exactly what they want. Power and attention. If you feel frustrated, if it gets to you because sometimes it just will, find someone in your circle who is strong minded, and vent to them in private, let your frustration out, talk it out loud then move on! Eventually, you will move on automatically when seeing any kind of online haters in your feeds, etc
Please note, that my advice is for those who get affected by comments, for those who get down and are unsure of what to do. I know people who get deep into conversations with trolls and will go on for days! But it requires a very strong mindset to speak your mind and deal with those attacks.
So what did other people in my circle had to say about this topic? Let me start with the opinion of Glen Gilmore, Lawyer, Forbes Top 20 Social Media Influencer and Travel & Tech Influencer:
“I don't let haters steal my good energy. When I spot haters online, I'm quick to make sure they get the message that "hate has no home here." They will be disconnected and blocked - and, depending on what they're said or shared, reported.
Social networks have gotten much better at providing mechanisms to report hateful, bullying content. We all need to join in halting hate whenever, wherever we see it. In social media, this means reporting harmful, hateful content. The responsibility is on each of us.
We need to recognize that bullying causes real harm. It shouldn't be ignored or tolerated.”
Glen touched on a key point here. Reporting those haters! If it gets personal, always report it!
My gal pal Tamara McCleary, Thulium CEO, International Speaker and Global Key Opinion Leader said:
“Putting yourself out onto social media takes courage. Having a unique-to-you voice versus echoing others, takes moxie.
Encountering haters and trolls online should be expected as long as we have unconsciousness in our world. It’s like losing socks in the dryer, it doesn’t make sense, but it happens. The problem arises when we identify with the hearts, shares, likes, and comments. This is a massive misperception.
We... me and you, are not our likes, retweets, shares, and comments. It’s a mistake to identify with and internalize our self-worth based upon a bunch of stranger’s interpretations. To believe anyone “out there” can know who we really are “in here” is a set-up for depression, anxiety and a whole host of negative and self-deprecating beliefs about ourselves.
Haters gonna hate, but you...you are above this lower vibrational level harassment. My mom used to say, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. When I get toxic vibes cast my direction I use the power of my thumb to unfollow, delete, and block.
I refuse to participate in and give attention to bad behavior. Don’t cast your pearls to swine. Only give energy (and engagement), to things that uplift, inspire, educate, edify, and offer support and service.
To all else...oh my darlings, you simply haven’t the time to engage. Step into your mastery. Own your worth. And for heaven’s sake, teach people how to treat you, and get comfortable with withdrawing your attention where it’s not honored. After you hit “delete” take a cleansing breath, send invisible blessings off to your hater, cut the tie and move along. You’ve got bigger, more important work to do. Next! “
Amen Tamara! Do you see a pattern here? Can you see how they all simply choose to just rise above getting into conversations with people who don’t deserve their attention?
I also asked my good friend Ralph Echemendia, International Speaker, Seguru CEO and cybersecurity expert known as “The Ethical Hacker” to weigh on this topic.
“Online Trolls and haters Oh my.
Internet discourse has been around since the earliest days of the world wide web. The moment we went online we left ourselves wide open to trolling and haters of any kind. This includes attacking you as a person, your work and your emotional wellbeing. The impact that it has on our lives is very real. It is more prevalent today than ever before. From bullying to fake news these things have a direct effect on our society and our state of mind. So what can you do when you become the target of online hate and trolling?
First think of these people as clowns, bad clowns. You don’t know them and even if you did their effect on you largely depends on you. Block these idiots. Don't let anyone belittle you online or off. These clowns intent is to get a reaction out of you, so DON’T REACT. Simply block them and move on with your life. There is a difference between criticism and hatred.
Haters goal is to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt by appealing to your ego and what is know as outrage culture.
Never focus on the negative, what you think is what you will feel. So only focus on positivity. Positivity is a necessity. Don’t take any of it personally. If you want to respond because you believe it’s more criticism than hate do so with grace, class, and humility. Explain your rationale. Don't try to convert them and in some cases, it’s very powerful to apologize to the critic who didn't find value in your work or words. It’s a matter of perspective and opinion. Show your humanity. Sometimes people forget that they are talking to screen and lose the sense that there is a real person behind it. Most importantly never stop learning and never stop being YOU.”
Amazing wisdom from Ralph here and quite similar to David’s thoughts, if you arguing to reply, do it with grace and class.
The overall consensus is… Block and ignore! Don’t react and never stop being YOU.
A big thank you to my buddies for sharing their opinion. All amazing individuals whom I respect and I’m fortunate to call friends.
There is no other way to end this article except with Taylor Swift’s lyrics and video!
“haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate...
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake...
I shake it off, I shake it off”
To everyone... Keep being amazing, keep on rocking life!