I know it’s a rough world out there, and shit’s kind of messed up lately, but the amount of negativity I see on social media seems excessive. Maybe I’m just noticing it more than I used to, because I have a new book coming out (get it here), and I’m having my usual breakdown because I’m worried everyone will hate it, or maybe it’s because of new connections. I could’ve friended/followed a particularly large group of jerks. I don’t know really, but it’s gotten a little frustrating and sometimes downright depressing.
I often wonder, though, why people feel the need to be so hateful/negative all the time? I think it’s because some of us like to hear ourselves talk. Just showing off or trying to feel better about ourselves. Some people are attention whores and negative shit gets a way bigger response than positive. And sometimes it’s just a matter of being clueless. Some people really don’t know they’re being negative. Maybe it’s just how they’ve lived their lives to this point and no one has pointed it out. Other people think being mean or criticizing someone or something shows how witty they are or makes them look better somehow. Occasionally, you might just be having a shit day and need to lash out. It’s okay. We’ve all been there.
So, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind authors, particularly you indie folks who rely heavily on the internet for marketing and whatnot, that you don’t have to get sucked in, and you don’t have to leave. It’s easy to continue to have an online presence without becoming a psycho. How?
Reviews/Reviewers – There’s a reason authors are told not to read their own reviews; book reviews are for the reader. They’re not meant for us. Sure, some readers tag us so we know they’ve left one, but we don’t have to read it and we definitely don’t have to respond. If you are going to read reviews of your books, remember it’s not personal. Try to find a nugget in the negative ones that helps you improve going forward and if you can’t, just move on. It’s not worth the head space.
Trolls – The simplest option for dealing with trolls is to delete and block them from your social media platforms, but I know that sometimes it’s not possible. In those rare cases, ignore, ignore, ignore. Starve those bitches. Don’t give them the emotional sustenance they need from you. If they get nothing, no replies, no response of any kind, they’ll move on. I know, sometimes it’s just the principle of it. I mean, those fuckers are getting away with acting like douchebags and no one ever says anything. But think about this for a minute: If no one responded to them, ever, then they’re getting away with nothing. They’re just talking into their own asses. What a bunch of knobs, eh?
Doomsday Preachers – Okay, I should explain these kids, because that seems a little dramatic. When I say doomsday preacher, I’m talking about those people who share negative and/or controversial links/comments/statuses regularly. The sky is falling and we’re all gonna die and so on. These people are often just attention seekers and aren’t actually trying to hurt anyone. It’s depressing, though, reading about some things. You assholes who share images/videos of dead babies and animals being abused need to stop, by the way. I hate you. Anyway, if you have a preacher on your social media, consider their intentions and then decide if it’s worth keeping them around. If they’re a friend, you can mute them or unfollow their posts. It’s simple, no one is hurt by an unfriending, and you don’t have to be brought down every day by shit you don’t want to think about. I know, we all have to face reality, but we don’t have to do it every second. I like to go online for a mental break sometimes and seeing that shit has the opposite effect.
Negative Nancy’s – Similar to a preacher, a negative Nancy just can’t see the glass half-full side of anything. They’re overly critical, sometimes hostile, and tend to be suspicious of every good deed. If you’ve got a friend/follower who always seems to point out the downside to everything, or who is overly critical of every single thing they read/watch/hear, don’t try to approach them in the same manner. By that I mean don’t criticize their criticism. Does that make sense? Fighting fire with fire causes a bigger fire. See? Just ignore them or, if you’ve got an opinion so strong you have to share it, point out your position/voice your thoughts, and then let it go. You’ve got better things to do with your time.
Political Pits – I NEVER discuss politics online. NEVER. Why? It’s just too big a clusterfuck to bother. I have my personal feelings on what’s happening and I feel strongly about some things, but not strong enough to get into a circle-jerk with some online rando that leads nowhere. I won’t even do that with friends. You can share if you want to. I do enjoy reading the wide range of ideas/beliefs out there, but don’t get sucked into an argument if someone disagrees with you. Debate if you wish, but don’t let it get ugly. It’s not worth it. You’re not going to change the world because you won an online debate with an asshole. Sorry, but it’s just not going to happen. If you feel so strongly about the way the world leaders are doing shit that you can’t not talk about it or argue about it, then maybe you need to actually do something to change things, like, I don’t know, run for office yourself. If you’re not willing to do that, then let people have their thoughts and opinions. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Even if they are wrong, you probably won’t change their mind.
While I’m on the subject, I tend to avoid discussions of religion as well. I just feel like it’s such a deeply personal thing, we don’t need to get nasty. If Joe over there believes the rapture is coming and we’re all going to die because we’ve sinned too much, whatever. Let him build his rapture shelter and walk away.
Remember, your power is never “taken,” it’s given away. No one can have psychological power over you unless you allow it.
Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree. Walk away. The discussion is over. Thank the person for their input and leave it alone.
When you start to feel down or angry, take a break. You don’t have to avoid being online, but if there’s a platform that seems to bring you down all the time, leave it alone for a day or two. Put some emotional distance between yourself and what’s on there. Trust me, it helps.
Laughter is magical, so humor is a pretty nifty tool for dealing with negativity. Use it in response or to cope with the black plagues of the internet. Try to see the bright side or try to laugh at their ridiculosity. It’s really all you can do, because letting it affect you emotionally or psychologically only hurts you.
Lead by example. If you want to change the way your followers/friends interact, then show them how to behave. When they see you won’t be sucked into negative nonsense, they’ll either leave or they’ll do the same. It’s pretty easy to do and makes for a much more productive experience.
Use your voice. I know, I say walk away and don’t react, but when something is just getting way out of hand, and you cannot ignore it, use your words. Ask questions. Make sure you’re not misconstruing someone’s comments/behavior. For example, someone makes a negative comment on a status or link you’ve shared, you can ask “Hey, what’s up? Why are you upset about this?” or whatever. Maybe they’re not upset at all. Maybe they’re trying to be witty and failing miserably at it. If it’s a matter of someone just being an asshole, it’s okay to say “Hey, not cool. We don’t do this on my page (or whatever applies).” If that’s not enough to make them act civilized, then delete and block.
Variety is the spice of life and of online marketing. Don’t rely on just one platform to do your thing. Spread it out over several. That way, if one platform (looking at you, Facebook) becomes too much to deal with, you’ve got others to use instead while you take a break.
And it’s okay to just walk away from it all sometimes. Take care of yourself first. If you’re really having trouble dealing with shit, then shut it down, pick up a book, turn on some Netflix, and unplug from your social media for as long as it takes to get your head back in the right space. Just don’t stay away too long. We’d miss you.