TikTok taught me how to deal with haters.
You wouldn’t think that a video about positivity could possibly be a place for negative comments and the airing of personal vendettas against the self-improvement movement, but, uh, turns out that it can. You wouldn’t think that your content could be considered toxic positivity, but at least one person with a keyboard thinks so. And you wouldn’t think that this-is-the-best-place for someone to make fun of the fact that you’re still on a dating app at 29. BUT I DIGRESS (lol).
I have always had the thinnest skin imaginable. It’s part of why I was always so afraid to put my work out there. So I do not mean it lightly, when I say that I have the thickest skin I’ve ever had. I don’t get miffed, even when people are condescending and downright nasty. And this newfound skill has started leaking into my day to day, face to face (or partial face) interactions. It’s total freedom.
And it’s all because of a foreign-spy-app. Kidding.
I present to you my ragtag collection of thoughts, reminders and facts for when you’re dealing with garbage on the internet.
#1 – Don’t come out swinging.
Don’t type the first thing that comes into your head. Remember, the internet is forever. And why should you get your boxers in a twist, because some rando–probably the only one out of seven who didn’t like your content–decided to be rude? Nah.
But they started itttttt. I don’t care. Their combativeness is their business. If you come out swinging, it becomes your business.
#2 – Always like the comment.
By liking every single comment, the all-powerful Like is eliminated as a way to control me. People love getting into liking-wars, like you’re one of Pavlov’s dogs, and can be trained out of saying things they don’t like (pun intended). Unfortunately, it works because we are all dying for dopamine hits. Just remember that if a server in Utah went down tomorrow, those digital dopamine-hits would cease to be. Likes don’t matter. If you can manage it, click the like button, even on a truly hateful comment.
#3 – There is no bad press.
But there is, you say. Um, no. There isn’t. Tiktok magnifies this in that every comment, whether negative or positive, is counted as interaction. The more interactions you get, the higher your video is ranked. Because people are interested, it’s got buzz.
I remember, one of my videos was puttering along, until I got into a conversation with a guy who was bent on insulting me. Instead of trying to shut him down, I engaged him in a neutral fashion, to see what would happen. The video blew up. The thread ended up being over thirty comments long. Every few hours, my views would jump.
This is another reason to like every comment, perhaps especially the nasty ones. They’re advertising for you and incurring all the cost. It’s pretty amazing, if you think about it.
#4 – Not every negative comment is a hater.
Disagreement =/= hate. Just putting that right there.
Some people are just not great at the nuances of the written word to begin with; the nuances of 2020-internet-speak are even more convoluted. Try to explain the different flavor between awesome and awEsOMe. Can you? I don’t even know if I can. I leave it to the linguistic determinists and linguistic majors of the next decade.
With just a little level-headedness, you might find you agree with them, or that they forgot to put what they agreed with, or they actually didn’t say what they meant at all. There is nothing cringier (and I’ve seen this all over the internet) than a creator assuming a negative comment is hateful and bringing the nukes too soon. That’s been me. Don’t let it be you.
#5 – See it as a chance to thicken your skin.
Better sooner than later. It’s awful seeing someone get caught up in the negativity and lose their balance. Develop a thick skin now and you’ll have skills that will help you for the rest of your life.
#6 – Ask if there’s any truth in what they’re saying.
Sometimes, the most hurtful comments are closest to home; like the guy who made fun of me on one of my dating videos, because I’m 29 and still on a dating app. I didn’t cry over it, but I remember it and, yeah, there was some truth to it. Sometimes you’ll find that you didn’t say/write something as well as you could have, or didn’t include an important qualifier, etc.
Sometimes, even hater comments afford a chance for self-examination.
#7 – If you’re not offending someone, you don’t have a personality.
Not much to say here. If you’re not offending someone, whatever you’re putting out probably has no color to it. If you produce content with a mind to avoid haters, your content will suffer in quality and interest.
#8 – Somewhere, someone is complaining about something.
Today, it’s your post. Tomorrow, it will be someone else’s. Complainers will complain. Make a cup of tea and weather the storm.
#9 – Check the nasty thoughts.
Don’t make a habit of going to their page and comparing a hater’s success to yours, or saying, “Well, no one’s watching/reading/etc. their stuff so hah.” It’s not good for your soul. It will come out eventually and you’ll end up seeming like a spiteful cretin. Sometimes, I’ll see responses from creators like, “Says the person who has no one watching their stuff” or “You must be fun at parties,” etc. Shoving their deficiencies in their face will just disqualify any potential follower/fan/person who is a small creator, or maybe doesn’t feel so hot about themselves. Avoid this like the plague.
Along these same lines, don’t get into one of those weird, powerplay situations where you’re both trying to have the last word. A comment thread is not worth your peace of mind or soul. People who play off of this weakness (not wanting to let go or seeing ending the conversation as a concession) are manipulative for sure and probably bored out of their minds, but don’t have the cajones to create something.
The world was never changed by a comment thread where no one wanted to admit that they were done with the conversation.
#10 – Shorten the brood-time.
If it takes you ten seconds to read a comment and more than ten minutes to respond, you’re giving them too much power.
#11 – Their opinion about you is irrelevant.
Your opinion about you is paramount. Plus, the opinions of people who genuinely love and care about you. Don’t loan out your self-worth to people who wouldn’t answer the phone if you were in trouble, or whose number you don’t even have. Side note: If their number isn’t in your phone, they definitely aren’t your problem.
#12 – Words can only hurt the originator.
I know, I know. But hate speech! You hand over power when you let words hurt you. Kind of like how Jesus says that it is not what goes in that makes you unclean, but what comes out–this is the case with hateful comments and speech. Until you take it on, they are only hurting themselves.
#13 – Anyone can make a blog/tiktok/vlog, etc.
If someone demands “better” or says “do better,” I’ve occasionally suggested that they build their own platform. It’s a free country, a very open internet, and those who make demands should go post some of that themselves.
#14 – Remember what you’re not here for.
You might think otherwise, with the world as it is and social media policing/censorship as it is, but you’re not here to do what people want, expect or think you should do. And that’s…all I have to say about that.
#15 – The unhappy people are the loudest.
Because they’re unhappy. The happy people read your post, maybe like it or don’t, and go about their day. The real silent majority are the people online who don’t find much to complain about.
And that’s what TikTok taught me about dealing with haters! Hopefully it helps someone. It might be the best thing I’ve learned from that app.