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Everyone has to fend off haters and critics at some point or another. While most of us see little more than “mild hate”, others have to deal with harsh attacks on a daily basis.
Either way, just know that you are not alone – and that it is possible to win.
Plenty of high-profile folks have had to deal with hate and criticism on the web. Thanks to the supposed anonymity of the Internet, common etiquette has died a gruesome death only to be replaced by vitriolic flame wars and heartless trolls. It’s impossible to avoid hate on the web altogether.
If you find yourself the victim of online hate, here’s what we can learn from those who have endured and survived — as well as those who failed and broke down.
It all started in 2011, when Anne Hathaway hosted the Academy Awards Ceremony alongside James Franco. The duo’s lack of chemistry resulted in a ceremony so dull that it birthed an Internet-wide hatred for Hathaway — even though she wasn’t fully to blame.
Two years later, when she won an Oscar for her (wonderful) performance in Les Miserables, the hate train picked up speed. Why? For shallow reasons, of course. Some claimed that she “tries too hard” and that “she’s overly dramatic” while others lashed out at her for being “too ugly”, “too attractive”, and even “too stupid looking”.
Is it any wonder why these detractors were called “Hathahaters”? They were haters, plain and simple. But she didn’t let them take her down, as she explained to the New York Times:
Q. There was a strong, negative reaction after you won your Oscar. In a recent interview for Elle U.K., you said, “As with anything difficult, eventually its purpose revealed itself, and I found it ultimately very liberating.” What was its purpose?
A. Self-acceptance. If you’re not someone who has a natural and effortless love for yourself, it’s hard to let go of your desire to please other people, and that’s really not an ingredient for a happy life.
Demi Lovato may not be as prominent as some other pop stars who started off on the Disney Channel, but she’s certainly one of the more respectable ones. It’s particularly true when you consider what she went through, and how she shamelessly made her struggles public.
In 2010, Lovato came clean with regard to her eating disorder, her tendency to self-mutilate, as well as her dependency on alcohol and drugs. Unsurprisingly, this news kicked up a veritable crapstorm on Twitter so big that Lovato often found herself getting into arguments with haters.
In 2012, Lovato took a break from social media, stating that she “can’t please everyone” and that it was “for the best”. A year later, a report confirmed that she had been clean and sober for one year. Coincidence? I’m inclined to believe that getting away from the hate played a big role in her victory.
James Clear is an entrepreneur, writer, and travel photographer who receives hate mail on a monthly basis. If what the haters say is true, then he is a worthless human being who writes worthless articles on worthless topics.
Obviously, the haters are wrong.
As a writer myself, I can sympathize with him: every piece of hate mail, no matter how baseless the claims may be, hurts. But James is still doing what he does without even batting an eyelid, which means he’s learned how to deal with that kind of incessant hatred. Here’s his secret:
During an interview with SUCCESS magazine, [racing driver Mario Andretti] was asked for his number one tip for success in race car driving. He said, “Don’t look at the wall. Your car goes where your eyes go.”
Criticism and negativity from other people is like a wall. And if you focus on it, then you’ll run right into it. You’ll get blocked by negative emotions, anger, and self-doubt. Your mind will go where your attention is focused. Criticism and negativity don’t prevent you from reaching the finish line, but they can certainly distract you from it.
However, if you focus on the road in front of you and on moving forward, then you can safely speed past the walls and barriers that are nearby.
Walmart gets a lot of flak for its business model and shady practices, leading many to lambast the company for being greedy, unethical, and even inhumane. Groups ranging from labor unions to environmental organizations have criticized Walmart, but the most recent criticisms center on the company’s treatment of its workers.
The people who really hate Walmart routinely launch written attacks over social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, and for a while Walmart chose to ignore all of that criticism regardless of whether the critics were right or not. But in 2013, the company decided to stand up for itself.
In response to angry words of venom, Walmart met their critics head on in a manner carefully woven with respect, positivity, and opportunities for reconciliation:
When you do get a negative review, the first thing you should do is take a breather. You don’t want to fly off the handle and do something to make yourself look bad. Especially if you think the customer complaint is false, your instinct is to react in the heat of the moment. But you’ll regret it.
Take some time and formulate a polite reply. Acknowledge the person who’s complaining and say you appreciate the input. Explain your side and add a human touch.
You may not be a business, but the spirit of this advice holds true. Fighting fire with fire will consume everyone involved in an unnecessary blaze of destruction.
What to Do About Online Haters
It takes a certain level of mental and emotional fortitude to withstand any kind of hate-filled attacks on your worth or character, but if these examples have taught us anything it’s that winning against haters is possible.
- Learn to love and accept yourself.
- Distance yourself from the haters.
- Ignore the haters.
- Respond with love, not hate.
Easier said than done, but that’s how you come out as the winner.
Have you ever had to deal with haters online? How did you handle it? Did you blow up and burn bridges or did you quell the flames before it was too late? Share with us in the comments below!