Dealing with Negativity aka Haters

by ljmlevine on June 8, 2011

So I work primarily in social media, which means I spend a lot of the day on Facebook and Twitter. It’s great because I get to interact with people and create content. The downside is that I also spend a lot of time dealing with haters. Negative Nancies, if you will.

Via curse.com

Before I took this job I considered myself to be very sensitive.  I would like to blame this on the fact that I’m an only child and never had anyone to verbally spar with when I was younger, but I actually think it’s just part of my personality. Let me tell you something, after the past week or so I have grown quite the thick skin.

All of the events that my company puts on have Twitter and Facebook pages. Inevitably, before and after the event, you get tons of Negative Nancies (or Neds) posting comments on the pages. You’ll also get lovely, nice people posting about how great the event is. That’s terrific. But usually the people that choose to post are the ones who want to complain about something. Sometimes the complaint is reasonable and can be fixed, sometimes the complaint is just ridiculous.

from katemiddletonforthewin.tumblr.com

So people started posting vicious comments about two different events that my company puts on, and it was my job to  choose to a.) politely respond or b.) ignore these comments. I had to manage the Facebook and Twitter pages and make sure they didn’t get out of control with people threatening each other, etc. Yes, stuff like that happens. I loved reading all the nice comments that were mixed in with haters, but for some reason I was really only able to focus on the mean things. I was getting so stressed out and upset, and finally I realized. Whoa. Stop. You are not going to be able to stay in this job if you take each and every criticism, critique and complaint so personally.

I was still feeling a little down, but the events went really well, and I conquered my stage fright, so these victories outshone the negativity. Then I wrote a post for The College Crush, like I do every week.

Usually I get a few nice comments on my piece, which I really appreciate.  For some reason, this article got people seriously fired up. I got mean comments attacking the piece and me, and I even got a mean tweet. Not going to lie to you, I was really, REALLY upset. Listen, I am 23 years old. I just started blogging a few months ago.

Do they have these for life after college? If so, I'd like to buy one (via writing.wikinut.com)

I write about relationships and long-distance love, because those are two areas in which I have experience. I will be the first to tell you that I don’t know everything. I will be the first to tell you I haven’t experienced everything. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t even be writing this column, because I am still very much in the midst of figuring my own life out and am hardly in a position to tell people how to figure their own lives out. But then I remember that I HAVE experienced things, and maybe I do have insight that could help other people. So that’s why I write these pieces. Not to say, “This is the word of the Lord.” Simply to say, “Here’s what I’ve found. Hope it helps.”

My boyfriend, C, was really sympathetic and encouraging. My friends were really sympathetic and encouraging. They let me whine, complain, and get defensive. They pumped me up with compliments. But the person who probably helped the most was my pops. Yes my dad, who loves expressions such as, “You can’t polish a turd.” My dad, whose own dad died when he was only 17. My dad, who grew up very poor and couldn’t finish college due to lack of funds,  yet still started his own successful company. My dad is not the most sensitive person ever. He is very blunt. He calls my female issues “problems with your plumbing.” He’s not the best listener. He forgets things you tell him. Yet, my dad is one of the best people to go to if you need a little motivation. He is also one of the people I admire most in life.

I went in to my dad’s office today, a little teary-eyed. I’d like to pretend that I was able to just brush the comments off and move on, but that type of thing isn’t my strength. I take stuff like that to heart.

“What’s wrong?” He asked, clearly with no idea what type of response to expect. Had our websites been hacked? Did someone accidentally have a Weinergate on a company Twitter account?

“Well… all week I was dealing with people writing terrible things on our Facebook and Twitter and it upset me. Then I wrote this article and people who don’t even know me are hating on it and tweeting me mean things.”

“And?” He asked.

“And I’m upset! My feelings are hurt! I put myself out there and people are just crapping all over me!”

“So you’d rather just write and tell people stuff they already know or agree with? You’d rather write vanilla articles? You’d rather just write something that everyone is all happy about?”

“YES! I would!” I shout.

Then he started telling me about all the times he’s faced adversity in his life, and how many times people have figuratively kicked him in the face. He talked about building character. He talked about how many times the Beatles were rejected by record labels before they were signed. He talked about Michael Jordan being cut from his high school basketball team (which I still don’t know if I believe).

Would YOU cut him from your team?

I nodded and listened. He talked about the people I admire most in life, and how none of them took a “middle of the road” approach to anything. They are a little radical, a little edgy. They stir things up, which contributes to the reason why they’re successful. They’re different.

“Listen, I love controversy. I love criticism. It fires me up. It makes me want to work harder. You’re my daughter, it’s in your blood line to be like that too. Come on now, get a helmet.” He said, and with that the conversation was over.

At first I was upset that he wasn’t sympathizing.  Then I thought about it some more. He was right. I did not want to be safe and vanilla and boring. I didn’t want to be middle of the road. I wanted to mix things up and keep things interesting. I thought about my hero, Bethenny Frankel. She’s been told “no” countless times in her life. She’s been insulted countless times in her life. Hell, she’s in the middle of a $100 million lawsuit right now! That just shows that no matter how rich or famous you are, there will always be haters. Haters are a part of the human condition, unfortunately. I thought about Chelsea Handler, another hero. She ALWAYS references how many times people told her she’d never be anything, and how many times people said horrible things to her. She did pretty well for herself. Then I went on Google and read an inspirational article (which I obviously can no longer locate) about how we’re not usually inspired by people’s instant successes, but by their failures and how they got over them and created success. It’s so true! Finally, I read through some of the things people tweet to my favorite celebrities. While many of them were nice, a good portion of them were awful. Again, it just goes to show that if you’re  going to put yourself out there, you’re probably not going to like everything that everyone has to say.

Unfortunately, a lot of times when people agree, they tend to just keep quiet. Many times the haters are louder than the supporters, even if the supporters outnumber the haters. Khloe Kardashian (I love her) has tons and tons of negative tweets, and lots of positive ones. She probably has more fans than she does haters, but the haters are louder. She probably remembers what the haters say more than she does what her supporters say. Sad but true.

I read another quote (which I can no longer recall the source of) that said something like a compliment lasts a few days, an insult lasts a lifetime. I believe that’s true. It just reminds me to be careful of my words. I might very casually say something snarky to someone when I’m tired or grumpy, but that flippant comment might stick with them and continue to hurt them. I never realized how true that was until it happened to me. I am going to be much more careful about what I say and how I say it now.

I also read this quote from Marilyn Monroe which I found interesting: “People feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you – and it won’t hurt your feelings – like it’s happening to your clothing.”

You tell 'em, Marilyn

Obviously I don’t think I’m famous, but I get what she means. I think this applies to the events my company does. People don’t realize there’s an actual individual (a group of us actually) behind these events, working hard to make them happen. You know what? I think it applies to me a little bit when I’m a blogger on The College Crush. Not because I deserve a star on the Walk of Fame, but because I’m just a faceless writer. I’m not a person they know. Therefore their words will impact me less.  People are a lot more apt to say whatever they want on the Internet than they are to just go up to someone on the street, or in their office and say something nasty. Hence, the whole cyber bullying phenomenon.

Anyway, those are my ranty, rambling feelings. But, if we didn’t have haters then we wouldn’t have great, hater-inspired songs like these:

Love Me or Hate Me

Hi Hater

The Show Goes On

AND of course this one:

Report to the Floor

and so many more.

So thanks to the Negative Nancies for inspiring great artists and great music world-wide.

And furthermore, I liked that piece I wrote and wouldn’t change anything. So there. You take your alpha males, or your nerds, or your men you are extremely offended about classifying, and I will take my dreamboat beta male and live in peace. You’re probably the people who remind the teacher they forgot to assign homework, anyway.

via uselesswithoutyou.tumblr.com

Now I have a new piece up on The College Crush, so check it out. I’m proud of it and that’s what matters. Nice comments or constructive criticism would be appreciated, though a few haters are anticipated. It comes with the territory when you put yourself and your ideas out there. I think it’s worth it.

Do you think there’s a difference between constructive criticism and pure, ridiculous hate? How do you guys deal with negativity? Any techniques that help you dust yourself off and keep going? It’s something I’m still learning to do!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara Brown June 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Hey girl! First, I love your blog! Second, I understand about the haters. I am a writer as well. I write for sites like Love Twenty and The Twenty Life among others and sometimes gets nasty comments. It hurts but it makes me stronger and a better writer in the end. Keep ya head up girl! You are a great writer.

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admin June 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Hi Sara!
Thank you SO MUCH for the sweet comment. I really appreciate it. It definitely is hard being a writer and putting yourself out there, but it’s worth it too (like you said). I really appreciate you taking the time to offer some encouragement. Thanks so much for reading!

Lauren

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