The Internet is a wonderful and terrible thing, isn’t it? It’s a reflection of the world. It shows us the best and worst parts of humanity. It gives us love and support and a network of wonderful human beings and it also gives us…trolls.
Some trolls are bots. Some trolls are human beings. Some trolls, I assume, are literal trolls. Like in Harry Potter. And the only way you can defeat those is with two of your wizard friends and a large club. But what do we do about the human ones?
Here are my best tips on how to deal with the haters:
- Spend way more time on your supporters than you do on your haters. It takes so much energy to respond to anger and hatred with kindness and intelligence and humor. We’ve all had those week-long conversations in our heads with our haters. We all know they’re a waste of time. So whatever you do, don’t let your energy be stolen by your haters. You owe that energy to the people who love and support you. You also owe that energy to yourself.
- Don’t respond right away. First, they do not deserve to be that important to you. Second, giving yourself time to respond allows you to make the right decision about what to say, or whether to respond at all.
- Assume the most benevolent explanation you can think of. Admittedly, this is sometimes really hard. But give it a shot, not for them, but for you. Use your haters to practice empathy. Try to think of the most benevolent explanation for their behavior that you can. Are they lonely? Scared? Rejected? Do they fear competition? Have they never known true love and support? Undereducated? Confused? Angry? Afraid? It’s up to you what you do with your conclusions, but this always helps me find peace.
- Use your anger as fuel. Chances are, you’re going to get fired up by a troll every once and a while. You know what the best use of that energy is? To create! So do whatever you do: write, draw, paint, sing, compose, photograph, edit. Wouldn’t your trolls hate to know that they actually make you better?
- Use your network. I roll with a pretty badass group of women. They are brilliant and kind and hilarious and witty. They let me be myself, and make sure I’m my best self with the rest of the world. They’re the kind of people I can say things to that I can’t say to the whole Internet. Thank God for them. When you’re angry, tell your tribe. They’ll let you vent and share your anger and help you find yourself again. I think your haters will also hate to know they make your relationships better, too.
- Remember this isn’t just your fight. Women are conditioned from a young age to believe that being liked is the most important thing in the world. We’re taught our silence is more valuable than our contributions. We’re taught it is better to stay in the shadows and be loved than to live in the sun and be disliked. But my heart breaks for every contribution we lose from women because they’re afraid they can’t please everyone. So don’t just be bold for yourself. Be bold for all the women and girls you love. Carve out space for them with each step you take.
- Be afraid. Do it anyway. I can’t think of one good thing I’ve done in this world that didn’t terrify me just a little. I am terrified because I recognize all that’s at stake. I do it anyway for the same reason.