I recently received an email from one of my regular customers, and in it she mentioned an internet site on which people are currently tearing me to shreds, and verbally attacking anyone who defends me. I have been completely unaware of this site’s existence, and I have absolutely no interest in looking into it further. Her intentions were positive, however; she just thought I should know, and I appreciated it… mainly because it gave me the opportunity to recognise how far I have come!
There was a time when the knowledge that yet another bunch of people, hiding behind user names, are publicly trashing me, would have dragged me down to the dark depths of self-loathing and despair. But not now. I was pleasantly surprised to experience nothing more than mild interest, as I read her words. She commented that she couldn’t understand how adults could behave so badly, but we all know that they can, and often do, especially when amongst their own kind, or safely hidden behind a phone or computer. And I say ‘another bunch’ because this is not the first time this situation has occurred, and it won’t be the last!
But, you know, there are positives that come from being the target of online haters, and here are 5 that I can think of:
1) You have made an impact out there, in the world. You have touched a few raw nerves, and as a result, people are talking, debating and arguing… which will lead to a number of folk actually changing their viewpoint, in a positive way. They will start to realise that the haters, whilst entitled to their opinions, are not the kind of individuals they actually want to associate or communicate with, and will disconnect from them, seeking something more healthy and productive.
2) You are likely to gain new followers or customers – yes, really! Some people become so intrigued when they see that one individual has the capacity to incite such rage and fury in others, that they just have to check it out for themselves! And of course, the brave defenders lend a helping hand here, presenting a positive viewpoint. They say all publicity is good publicity, and that just might be true. Some years ago I was ‘attacked’ on Facebook by a woman I don’t think I had ever met or read for, and the fallout was crazy. There were those who gleefully joined in, adding their own reasons for wanting to see me crushed asunder, there were others who furiously rose up on my behalf, and some who didn’t know me from Adam, but defended me anyway. And arguments started, with accusations and insults flying left, right, and centre… in the end, I think the original point was forgotten, as mud was slung and FB ‘friendships’ ended. As a result of that one vitriolic rant, I received 40 friend requests, and an impressive amount of new business!
3) You’re running with the ‘big boys’ now. I was watching Mean Tweets recently, and I was blown away by how vicious and personally rude people can be, but also kind of heartened by the fact that even the hugely successful and much admired are consistently on the receiving end of spiteful and contemptuous outpourings. If it’s good enough for Samuel L Jackson, it’s good enough for me! And actually, indifference hurts more than being hated, in an odd kind of way. Not having many visitors to my website, or only a handful of people reading one of my blogs, or not enough recent reviews on Amazon causes me to slump, thinking “what’s the point?”, until I nip it sharply in the bud! If I had to choose, I might possibly prefer the haters over the indifferent…
4) It provides an opportunity for you to grow. Criticism can help you to assess where you, yourself, feel you are at, and whether or not you are satisfied with your own delivery and performance. I have genuinely worked tirelessly on myself throughout the years, and yes, I have had to take a few things on the chin. However, I do feel that I have improved, and I am now largely happy with the way in which I approach my work, and how I conduct myself. And also, the haters not only help you to become a better version of yourself, they also teach you to recognise the difference between constructive and destructive criticism!
5) It gives you an opportunity to develop a thicker skin, and a thicker skin is an absolute must, if you are going to put anything of yourself out there in the world – especially on the internet. It doesn’t matter whether you sell products or a service, or make YouTube videos, or write blogs… you will be up for public scrutiny, and someone somewhere will hate something about you! Look at the comments below any YouTube video, and try coming away from the experience without feeling as if you have just been through some weird hall of mirrors! There will be positive, enthusiastic comments, of course – but there will also be those that are horribly insulting, in a very personal way! It is what it is, but I can tell you from experience that a thicker skin definitely makes life a lot easier – and the toughening-up process goes on!
So… please, don’t be afraid to face the world, if YOU have something to offer, or something you want to share! I was terrified of putting out YouTube videos for years, until it clicked with me that I had already been on the haters’ radar many times, without the sky falling in. And do you know what happened, when I did release a few video’s? Bugger all. I wasn’t interesting enough to attract the attention of more than a handful of gratefully received subscribers, but I learned a few things, and it was fun doing them. And I really hope the day will come when I begin to receive occasional 1 star reviews on my little books on Amazon, and not just 4 and 5 stars… because that will mean that I am starting to develop a presence, and that I am getting somewhere!
Footnote: it was recently brought to my attention that I have been labelled a ‘Marmite’ consultant, by someone online… meaning, I presume, that people either love or hate me. I can accept that!