When my book was first published, a local newspaper wrote about the backstory that led to me write about the 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do. Shortly after that newspaper article appeared online, my dad called to warn me, "You'd better not read the comments." Of course that piqued my curiosity and led me to head straight over to the website to read what the commenters had to say.
At this point, I don't remember what the comments said. But I do remember wondering why on earth my dad thought I shouldn't read them. I'd been writing online articles for years. Compared to the comments I usually received, the comments from my local community were especially tame.
Clearly, I'd grown a bit desensitized to the online haters who receive joy in poking fun, lashing out, and beating down people who share their content with the world. That's not to say I'm immune to their hostility, but I certainly don't let the online shamers, trolls, and bullies ruin my day.
It doesn't matter what you write, share, or sell, if you put it online, chances are you'll encounter haters at one time or another. Here are some strategies that will prevent haters from dragging you down:
1. Keep the comments in proper perspective.
While people who care about you may offer helpful feedback that could help you become better, online haters' sole purpose is to make you feel bad so they can feel good. Research even shows online trolls are sadistic people who thrive on bullying others. So try not to take their comments too personally-their comments really say more about them than you.
2. Delete the comments when you can.
When a hater says something on a page you have control over-like your Facebook page or your own blog-hit the delete button. There's no need to keep an offensive comment or hateful message on there. Delete or block the person whenever possible, and move on to more productive activities.
3. Wait 24 hours to reply.
Of course, you may encounter circumstances where you can't delete hateful comments. Perhaps you write for a national publication, or maybe you encounter some bullies making fun of you in a public forum.
If you can't delete the comments, ignore them. If you really feel the need to reply, wait at least 24 hours before saying anything. Otherwise, you may be tempted to resort to their level, which will just fuel their aggression.
3. Be aware of your hot buttons.
While someone saying your opinion is dumb might not cause you to flinch, someone who makes fun of your profile picture may hit a hot button. Everyone has certain hot buttons and online haters will often try to uncover whatever area could be a sore spot.
Be aware of your hot buttons. Then when someone's comments really hit home, you'll be better aware of the need to stay calm.
5. Develop a helpful mantra.
Repeating a short mantra to yourself can be helpful when the haters are fierce. While one person might find it helpful to say, "My real life is full of kind people," someone else might find it reassuring to say, "Haters have no room in my life." Create something that will quiet the unhelpful thoughts and calm your emotions.
6. Distinguish between haters and helpful critics.
Be careful to avoid placing everyone who disagrees with you into the "haters" category. Let people disagree with you and accept feedback from those who criticize, as long as it's given in a kind manner.
Remember, attracting negative attention can be a good sign. It means you're expressing opinions that could repel some people, while also attracting others. That's the key to breaking free from the pack and really standing out in an overly crowded online space.