The internet can be a very positive place. With communities and social media, it is easier now more than ever to access information, entertainment, and to create a living on social media platforms. However, it can also be hazardous. Trolls, haters, or simply misinformed individuals can use the anonymity of the internet to say hurtful things. This can be especially true on platforms like Instagram, which require a lot of creativity to succeed in.
However, there are many positive ways to deal with negativity on social media. By following some of these rules, you can begin to develop a thick skin, patience, and the persistence to carry on in spite of negative criticism.
Assess the situation
First things first, it is important to distinguish constructive criticism from hateful content. The former can be informative, helping you to create more engaging content on your platform. The other is harmful, baseless, and written with the intent to insult, anger, or harm someone’s well-being.
So when a negative comment arises on your Instagram, take a moment to assess what the comment is trying to do. Is it trying to help you, despite a negative tone? Or is it trying to provoke a response?
Here is a quick list of things to look out for:
- Points out specific things in your image/post that they find fault with.
- Uses helpful language such as “I suggest” or “Perhaps.”
- Is not a personal attack on you, but an assessment of the work.
- Scolding or judging you based purely on race/sexuality/ethnicity etc.
- Uses harmful language such as swearing or encouraging you to harm yourself.
- Nothing helpful that can help you create better content.
Having this ability to wait and assess the situation before choosing to respond will help you avoid making a mistake when engaging with your community. The last thing you want to do is aggravate someone who, in their eyes, was only trying to help.
Ignore the comment
If you are certain that the comment is harmful, the first response should be to ignore it. The common phrase for this action is “don’t feed the trolls.” Many of the people who write hurtful comments are only looking to gain a response out of you. They want you to get mad, or upset, or hurt. The attention they receive is reward enough for them, regardless of how you feel.
Even though it can be frustrating, and feels like you’re letting them get away with saying hurtful things, you are ultimately coming out on top. By not responding to their hate, you are not giving into what they want. And you are showing other members of your online community that this sort of comment will not gain a response from you.
Kill them with kindness
With that said, if you are uncertain about whether an individual is trying to be helpful or harmful, always respond with kindness. Even if you are frustrated with what they have said, being respectful to the individual online is always better than matching their turt response with your own.
Firstly, if the individual was genuinely trying to help, then you will only alienate them and others who will want to critique your work.
And secondly, by treating them with kindness, you are showing your other followers a positive side to following you. You present yourself as someone who is level-headed, which will only make them more loyal to your account.
When someone is repeatedly hurtful towards you, as well as other commenters, then it will be time for you to block the account. This is something that should be considered a last resort, as most cases of trolling will end when that initial comment is not responded to.
Blocking someone will cost you a follower, as well as potentially provoke other hateful commenters to rally around the blocked account. However, allowing that hateful content to continue will not only make your followers’ well-being to suffer, but your own to suffer as well.
Remember the 30/30/30 rule
Ultimately, when working on something creative - whether it is an Instagram post, a Twitter feed, or a blog - you will garner attention. Good and bad. And when it comes to receiving hateful comments, the best long-term solution to handling them is to consider them in the bigger picture. And to gain this, you can use the 30/30/30 perspective.
30/30/30 boils down to a simple principle. When you post something online, 30% of people will love it, 30% will hate it, and the last 30% won’t care. By baring this in mind, you can remind yourself that a single hateful comment does not make up the majority’s opinion. And thus, by reminding yourself of the bigger picture, you can feel less threatened by negative comments.