Monday, 14 December 2015

How I Deal With Hate Online

Back in the day, I never used to get hate comments on my blog. I remember getting one or two, but they were from a 'friend' and didn't really bother me. But now I have lots more followers, I post more regularly, I've got a YouTube channel and I know more people online than I used to. It's logic: the more people you know and the more places you can be found, the more people are going to interact with you - and it's not always going to be pleasant.


Since I went a tiny bit viral this summer, I've been getting so many hate messages. The positive messages I get far outweigh the bad ones, luckily, but it's come to a point where seeing I have a new comment fills me with dread. Even though the thing everyone is commenting on is now months old and irrelevant, it's still getting attention. This is mainly over on YouTube but it happens quite a bit here, too, people writing entire essays about how I'm disgusting and deserve to die.

How do I deal with it? Well, sometimes I don't. I let it get to me, I contemplate quitting, I go to bed with a heavy heart and end up losing a night's sleep because someone out there made a conscious decision to make me unhappy and send a message full of venom.

Other times, I'll rant in my journal about how I've lost faith in humanity and people are unnecessarily cruel and should think before they speak, blah blah blah.

Sometimes I'll look at nice comments, emails and letters I've received to counteract the negativity. It doesn't always work, and most of the time I can't be bothered to search for them because I suddenly feel so bad about myself and don't want to do anything.

The thing that works the best for me and always has done is something I started doing when I was bullied at school, and the trick is to pity the person sending hate. You don't know what's going on in their lives - maybe someone close to them has fallen ill or has passed away; maybe they're lashing out and making you and others unhappy because someone is doing or has done it to them - it's no excuse, but there are lots of things they could be struggling with. It might seem a little dramatic, but everyone has something going on that they keep to themselves. Most people who send hate messages are dealing with their own insecurities, upset and frustration, and are directing it all at you to bring someone else down onto their level. Feel sorry for them - to make themselves feel good, they have to make others unhappy. You don't feel the need to stoop that low.

The other thing that helps is that, usually, the person sending you hate isn't someone who actually knows you. They might have seen ten minutes of your life in a video and judged you solely on those ten minutes without knowing the whole story. So, if they don't know you, surely whatever distasteful and unnecessary negativity they've just sent you is misguided, because they don't have the full picture and never will. For example, someone commented on one of my videos saying I must be lying about having anxiety because I 'was fine at the Insurgent premiere'. Actually, I had a panic attack in the middle of Piccadilly Circus and very nearly gave up and went home. The person who commented doesn't know that because all they've seen is a five-minute video showing highlights of the day, not a shaky one-minute segment of me throwing up into a bag, because for some reason that's not something I excitedly whipped out my camera for...

The most simple and effective way of dealing with hate is simply to delete and block. You can block someone on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and you can even ban someone from your YouTube channel. It's worth doing and you should not feel guilty about it. They clearly don't respect you, so why let them continue to look at your stuff? It's your space and you have every right to rid it of unnecessarily rude comments, no matter how much the person protests that they were 'joking'. Jokes are funny; telling someone they need to lose/put on weight and telling someone they hope their parents get cancer and die is not funny. It's tasteless, unnecessary and makes you look bad.

It's much nicer to bring people up rather than down. Being mean to someone just makes you feel toxic inside - I'm guilty of saying things I didn't mean in the past; I think most people are - whereas doing a random act of kindness for someone or giving them a compliment is so much more rewarding. They feel good, you feel good. What's not to like? In a world full of sexism, racism, classism and ableism, it's important to put some goodness out there.

Feel sorry for the haters, block them and get on with your life and subtly give them the middle finger by spreading positivity instead of stooping to their low, low level.

I'd love to know your tips on dealing with hate, and if anyone is being bullied and needs someone to listen, my inbox is always open for you.

10 comments:

  1. Great post, thanks for writing this! I struggled a lot when I first started getting negative feedback too, but now I tell myself that the people who leave rude comments aren't the ones I'm writing for anyway, so they don't even matter. Just focus on the positive ones!

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  2. I can't believe how people can be so mean sometimes. I practise the same thing you do, when a stranger is negative to me, I remind myself that they don't know me and that they don't know the context of the situation.

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  3. I cringe sometimes when I read the comments people leave online. I have no idea why someone would take time out of their day to leave such hateful/hurtful/misogynistic/ ect comments behind. I love your approach. I think it's tempting to respond back to them, but I think it often times just makes the problem worse.

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    1. Same here! It just makes no sense to me whatsoever.

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  4. We had a real problem on a Harry Potter social site I was on, and what made it even more disgusting was it was a small group of older people (40+ years old) being mean to teens. You couldn't block on the site, even from the groups. They would bait the teens until they lashed out and then these older members would report the teens to the admins for abuse. It got really ugly before the social part of the site closed down. I found out a few months ago that they all have a secret closed group on Facebook. Ugh. We ended up referring to them as the "Deatheaters" at one point. I was embarrassed to be their age. As you said they must have some problems going on, but when the trolls are adults I give them very little excuse for their actions. You are fabulous, Amber, don't ever lose sleep over the trolls. I like to answer them by saying, "Oh you're so silly." It makes them really angry. Ha ha!

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    1. That's awful! Actually, most of the hate I get is from people 40+ too. I get a bit from people my own age but, thinking about it, it does tend to be adults. I love your answer and I can imagine how infuriating that must be for them! Might have to steal it next time. ;)

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  5. Hey Amber! I just want to say that I LOVE your blog, and I believe that no one should leave hate comments for anyone. "Haters gonna hate!"

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  6. I personally haven't had a problem with hate, as my blog is still relatively small. But I feel like, if someone only has time and decency to write horrible comments, then they really aren't worth the time of day. After all, you're writing a fabulous blog and living an ace life, and they clearly aren't doing either of those things!! x

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  7. I can't say I agree. The truth is there are people who aren't exactly going through their own problems but are still cruel. It's not an excuse at all which is why I will always call out people on their bullshit. That said, you have a good idea Amber, most of the time people who are unnecessarily cruel can't begin to comprehend you and in fact don't know you at all.

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  8. Gosh, I'm really sorry that you have to deal with hateful comments. The book blogosphere has always seemed like a safe little niche away from internet trolls, but you're right, the more you put yourself out there, the more vulnerable you leave yourself. Even though it's really hard, it's important for bloggers/instagrammers/youtubers/etc. to keep creating they content they're passionate about for the audience they love. That's kind of the biggest "screw you" you can give to a person who fills comment sections with hateful words.

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Feel free to leave me a comment. I will get back to you as soon as I can! :)