Ignore, delete, try not to engage: one more perspective on dealing with web hate

Great post from the folks at Teahouse, described as "A Gay Webcomic About Fancy Whores":

Teahouse became way bigger than either of us ever expected it to. We had no idea it'd blow up the way it did and with that popularity came a number of incredibly unpleasant surprises.

One of the biggest casualties has been our ability to interact with people and fans. We used to be able to joke around and even engage in serious conversations (not confrontations) but we can't anymore. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point people started taking everything, regardless of whether or not it was an obvious joke, seriously. So we hardly interact with people anymore and it super sucks because we used to enjoy it.

There's this interesting culture of hate on the internet. I don't know if it's just that people are angry and feel a relief in releasing their anger online in the form of anonymous online "hate justice" but it's rough on the receiving end of it. I won't lie. People seem to think that ugly opinions are the same as constructive criticism and it's not but there's no arguing with them about it. They're not looking for reasons to like you, they're looking for more reasons to hate you.

So the biggest piece of advice I've been giving people interested in web comics recently: "Minimize your response to negative people period. Don't even try to reason with them. Just ignore it or delete, try not to engage." Every once in a while we'll slip up and let something get to us or joke about something that we think is minor (always blows up in our faces, someday we'll learn) but at this point, that's how we try deal with all the crap thrown at us. "Ignore, delete, try not to engage."

I relate to so much of this, and I so desperately wish I didn't.

Kate or Die

  1. My personal blog is nowhere near popular enough to get hate mail, but I've worked on ones that are. Sometimes it really helps to just type out your response in all it's "I know you are but what am I?" pointless, childish, rude, defensive glory and then…. just delete your comment (and the original one, if need be).
    I also always think that the people at younghouselove are classy at dealing with criticism. They delete anything really personal, but if it's just rude criticism of the content of their website, they really just kill it with a cheerful response. It must be so deflating for trolls!
    My old boss had a phrase for this – smile from the wrists down. It's often amazingly disarming.

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    • "Smile from the wrists down" — love that!

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    • I used to use the same approach with rude customers when I worked at a bakery. The snarkier they got the sweeter I was. Sometimes it would turn people's moods around, other times it wouldn't, but it gave me a giggle and stopped me from being brought down by their bad mood.

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  2. There does seem to be an increasing amount of internet users determined to be offended (even without reading the content they are aggressively offended by), and others determined to try to "shock" readers with hateful comments. Neither contribute to an insightful conversation.

    The fun debate where all sides are respected is hard to find these days. At least Facebook doesn't have a "dislike" button. That would only contribute to the lynch mob atmosphere that has already taken over unfortunately.

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  3. This is something I'm coming to learn, and it saddens me. Hate doesn't just come from the 'right', I actually find it comes a lot harsher from the 'left' and a lot of people in movements I consider myself part of.

    We shut each other down for not agreeing hard enough or the right way, we shut each other down for presenting opinions that don't mesh with what we've been taught, and we shut each other down for trying to insert new things into the dialogue.

    I expect better from the left, but really I don't remember why I should.

    Its a rough thing trying to discuss anything on the internet, I've about given up.

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    • Amen to this. I've never *ever* been hated on harder online than by fellow feminists. Are we not all on the same team here? It can get exhausting.

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      • Yikes, I just read through that post and it made me cringe. Not only was it so full of the feminist equivalent of buzz words that it was really difficult to get through, but it was so scathing it was almost hateful. I'm working on a webseries that playfully pokes fun at the experiences my friend had as a sorority girl in college and I'm really not looking forward to some of the possible hateful backlash. We're doing our best to be funny without being disrespectful but we're probably going to end up pissing some people off no matter what. ^^;;

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        • Just to clarify, I do consider myself a feminist, I definitely support gender equality, but sometimes it seems like if a woman wants to do anything traditionally "feminine", like going on a diet or becoming a housewife, then there's all this feminist backlash and negative commentary. Delete and move on, indeed.

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  4. I try, I really do try to just leave it alone and most times fail. But just very recently I posted something related to our recent wedding on a mob-friendly blog I visit that I was so excited about, and boy the hate and the snark! This time though, I left it alone and as it turns out, the haters comments spoke volumes to the community about the posters with no further input from me. Note to self, continue to develop my self-control.

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