Tuesday, March 12, 2013

what i've learned:: the ugly side of the online community

I love the community of the blogging and handmade world. Men and women with oodles of talent and bursting with fresh ideas, encouraging one another and adding bits of beauty to the world everyday. But this is a sin-filled world and there's an ugly side to it all. Where bloggers and artists steal original ideas, leave anonymous comments with harsh words, judge you for the silliest things, and make you feel like just giving up.

I've been there. I've dealt with my fair share of the nasties and believe me, I've thought many times about leaving my little space here and just enjoying a private life with my family. Even seeing that I've lost followers can leave me feeling icky. But I love sharing my photos, thoughts and family with you. I feel like God has called me to use this space to share the Joy I find in Him. So, I'm learning how to cope with the dose of negativity that comes along with the beauty. I hope you don't have to experience this side of the online world, but in case you do, here are a few things I've learned.



Take a step back. 

Many times, the ugliness of the online community is blatant. It's in your face and makes your stomach turn to see the way people act. But sometimes I jump the gun a bit on being offended and I need to take a step back. Here's a little example of things not being quite like they seem.

This week, I downloaded Feedly to read blogs on my phone. I was curious to see how Hello Hue looked in the app, so I added my blog to my feed. Then I noticed that my little face showed up in the GFC counter on my sidebar. Uh, that seemed a bit tacky to me. I went into Blogger and changed my subscription to private. My face disappeared from the GFC counter and I 'lost' a follower. It made me wonder how many times I've seen that number go down and I lament how I must have offended or bored someone into unsubscribing. When in reality, who knows if a reader simply made their subscriptions private?

A small lesson that reminded me not to assume the worst and take offense at something that may be harmless. Written words on the internet are so easily twisted. Simple actions can quickly be misconstrued as hurtful. Yes, there are people who are outright nasty, but there are also people who are mistaken, who chose the wrong words or time to say something.

So before I take offense, I am in the process of learning to re-read, re-evaluate and consider if it's really worth getting all flustered.



Never underestimate the value of the 'delete' button

For a long time I struggled with how to deal with mean comments. I'm not talking about commenters who disagree with me, or share a different opinion. If a commenter brings up valid concerns, arguments or beefs with me, I'll respond as best as I can. But outright rudeness is what I'm talking about here (like when I was called fat in one of my early bump updates. Ok, dude...)  I've tried different things (replying with some sassy remark, leaving it for my readers to defend me, etc.). In my opinion, the best thing to do is to just delete those puppies. Don't give them a second read-over. Don't analyze them. Don't reply or give the commenter the satisfaction of seeing you upset. 

Just delete and move on. It's not worth your time or energy. 


Leave the posse at home & don't act like a fool . 

Then there are times when the offense is obvious. I've been called awful names, bullied and lied to about copying. When I've come across artists trying to sell almost exact replicas of my work, or when someone leaves a rude comment on a post, I'm always tempted to take it to Twitter. Expose the jerk. Let my readers and friends take a whack at them. Sadly, I have to admit that I've done that a few times in the past. It never leaves me feeling better, usually just escalates the situation, and honestly, looks awful not only as a Jesus follower, but as a businesswoman.

Sometimes, I just delete the comment and move on, like I said above. But other times, I need to say something. So I've learned to deal with things privately and to respond as respectfully as possible. For me, it is helpful to remember that on the other side of that mean comment, there's another human. And behind those apparent copies of my hard work, there's someone who just doesn't get it. And maybe there's a side to the story that I haven't heard yet. Maybe it's an honest mistake and by reacting too quickly and strongly, I make a fool out of myself and throw any testimony to Jesus out the window. Responding with some level of respect and thoughtfulness does not come easily to me at all in situations like these, but I'm learning with each experience.


What are some positive ways you deal with negativity in the online community?


" If it is possible, as it depends on you, 
live at peace with everyone." 
Romans 12:18



(Psst... wanna see more in the What I've Learned series? Read about changing your business name, rocking the baby bump, starting a handmade shop and more here.)




31 comments:

  1. Love your post, Linds! You encourage many. This is well written.

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  2. I truly do not understand why people have to leave mean-spirited comments. If you don't like what you're reading, then don't, but leaving a mean comment does nothing.

    Sorry you've had to deal with that! I haven't - yet. My blog is small, and while sometimes I wish I had a few more readers, I realize that w/ more readers comes more criticism & with criticism comes nasties.

    i have a soft heart & i don't know how i'd deal with mean comments. Probably cry to my Husband.. Or yell.. and be tempted to leave a nasty comment back - I'd like to think i'd be the bigger person & just let it go.

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    1. I agree- it seems senseless to me too. I'm glad you haven't had any exposure to that, Jena!

      I definitely cry to Chris, yell and am tempted to be nasty back too. It's not easy at all and I think all of the negativity I have experienced (which I'm sure pales in comparison to some bloggers) has made me much more cautious about what I share.

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  3. This has been a big topic on my heart this year. Up until recently I hadn't dealt with any of this first hand. I totally agree with your points above! My first reaction is to get all worked up and complain on Twitter or gossip about it, but that ALWAYS makes things worse.

    I also recently discovered that there are sites that are totally dedicated to picking apart bloggers/shop owners and making fun of them. CRAZY PANTS.

    It is so wise to remember that our reactions to the ugly side of online are testimonies in their own way.

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    1. Crazy pants is right. Just discovered my blog on one of those sites (I know which one you are talking about) last week. No fun and what a waste of time. Sad.

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  4. I usually just delete if its a rude comment. I figure they want a reaction and I'm not going to give them one.

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  5. Oh lady. I have had some really hard things come my way. Some blatant. and I just had to do the delete thing. When people would attack my character, tell me I'm an awful mom, or that my toddler is unruly or whatever--I just had to delete. I never told anyone publicly although inside I wanted to have the masses defend me. I just knew in my gut that wasn't the way to handle it. I've seen some bigger bloggers handle things this way. I lose respect for them when they blast a fb comment publicly, and 'unlease the wolves'...I know, that sounds dramatic--but it's what happens. I used to be more immature about this stuff but in the last few years I really feel god has grown and molded me to just keep telling myself I'm better than that...that my true friends and family know who I am, and God knows who I am, what people say about me doesn't matter (although it does hurt, I'm human) and I don't need anyone to 'come to my rescue'. So I agree with your advice, lots. Also--when I start getting really down about the internet (like, before christmas I discovered one of those awful sites where people bash bloggers, REALLY!?)--I just had to stop writing. I had to. Take some time to just think about what I was doing, if I wanted to--etc.

    Anyway. I know this is long winded. But...all this to say, I couldn't agree more with this advice. It always helps to have a real friend or family member to call to talk about it, rather than put it back out into an online community and stir it up. Someone who will give you sound advice. My sister does this for me. It helps :)



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    1. Nodding my head to everything you wrote. And I totally agree with what you said about having a real-life friend to bounce things off of and to vent. I think it also helps to have a close blogger friend who understands this world/lifestyle/whatever. Sometimes I'll send rough drafts of emails/responses to a close blogger friend just to make sure I'm not being ridiculous! ;)

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  6. This is such a good post. I haven't really had many negative experiences with people leaving mean comments or anything, but one thing I'm learning is to just stop following/reading the blogs or twitter accounts (or really any other social media space) that consistently push me towards offense. And not in a malicious way, like "Oh I'm sooo unfollowing them!" but in a "This is not edifying to my heart" kind of way, you know?

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    1. Great point, Jodi Ann. I'm glad you brought that up about unfollowing anything that's not life-giving. When we're surrounding ourselves with that much negativity, it only makes sense that we would find ourselves spitting that back out. I think that's one of the things I love about the Influence Network so much. Obviously we're all humans and have our rough days, but that's such an uplifting group of women.

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  7. you are such a smart, smart girl! thank you for this!

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  8. Such a great post Lindsay! Thank you for being a christian example and inspiration! xoxo

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  9. i LOVE your perspective. a lot of bloggers {that i love to follow and enjoy their work} give naysayers too much power -- they tweet about any little offense and write really heated posts about how they were copied or treated wrongly. i understand that it's got to be frustrating, but for the people that really enjoy your work and enjoy reading your blog, it just makes you look less classy.

    keep your head up -- you've got a lot more fans than foes!

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  10. Though I'll probably never have these problems seeing as I have just a little blog, I really enjoyed this post. These attitudes can be applied to so many facets in life. It's so important to find the good in something instead of letting the bad drag you down.

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  11. Beautifully put by a beautiful lady! What a perfect verse to tie it all together.

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  12. I think your advice is great. You can't please everyone and building a blog where you share actual things about your life is pretty scary because you're putting yourself out there. It's unfortunate that there are people out there that choose to be cruel to you or anyone that has a blog. I may not agree with everything you post about - but still love to learn from bloggers and people who aren't like me. Isn't that the beauty of this world? Embracing each other's different viewpoints and opinions, especially when they disagree with our own?

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  13. Amen, amen, amen. Let go and let God. He'll take care of it. :) Great post L!

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  14. Really great post, Lindsay! This is all stuff that I've been working on a lot lately too... both online and in real life. Personally, I've had to identify my desire to confront rude people as a pride issue... I feel like I deserve better than they gave me. But my Jesus deserved all things at His feet, yet came here to die a criminal's death for me. Praying for a humble heart and an attitude of grace.
    Thanks for sharing... it was a great reminder today! :)

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  15. Saw people sharing this on twitter...great post. I think you made a great point that instead of getting flustered, to reread and rethink because someone may not have meant it the way it came across. It's crazy how in our little heads we can twist the tone of something in writing to sound nasty when it wasn't intended that way. However, if it was, then yes...Delete! Thankfully, because I too am pretty new at getting my lil' business and name out in the online community, that I haven't dealt with the uglies...yet. I pray that the Lord would give me the discernment and strength to deal with those situations with grace and to use opportunities to be a witness like you said. Afterall, the online community isn't exactly a Christian bubble, and we aren't called to live in one of those anyway. Now when it comes to copying other artist's work, there's a difference between being inspired by another artist to create something in a similar vein vs. totally ripping off an exact replica. I love to see other artist's work, and sometimes other artist inspire me to do my own take on it. Afterall, we all get our inspiration from somewhere else, and our giftedness can only be attributed to God, since He is the giver of all gifts...but it's hard to remind ourselves of that though, and I think our pride can get in the way sometimes. One of my biggest fears was that someone would rip off my magnetically interchangeable snap-on hair accessories and get big off of it, and I've come to realize I had a major pride issue about my idea and just may have been idolizing it...just a little bit. Any how, this is extremely long...but what Mandy said right above me about Jesus deserving all things at His feet but dying a criminal's death for us was perfectly stated...I just hope and pray when tomatoes are thrown our way or when our work gets stolen, that we humbly act with love and respect regardless of what we feel the offender deserves. That's grace! xo, Eva @ Snappee Turtle

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  16. Love this post of yours! And thank you for putting a nice spin on the followers thing. That's something I struggle with all the time and it's so hard for me to remember that my work (including my blog) is for His glory, not mine. Thank you also for reminding me how to live when it comes to dealing with negativity. It's hard stuff which I've been fortunate not to have to deal with (aside from annoying spam and such). Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for always being honest, too--that's one of my favorite qualities of bloggers. :)

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  17. This post is something I really needed right now. I had someone yesterday email me to tell me they wouldn't be following my blog anymore because of my divorce. They explained they don't believe in divorce and that I set a bad example.

    I'm not sure why they decided on NOW to email me. But at first I was so hurt. I get very little negative flack on my blog, probably because I don't allow anonymous comments. But to have someone judge me on something that they don't even know much about was really awful.

    I ended up emailing them back and telling them that if that's how they felt then I welcomed them to stop reading. I was calm about it but part of me wanted to demand what made them email me in the first place.

    But you're right. Dealing with things privately and calmly and then moving on is the best way to go.

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  18. I don't understand why people waste their time being mean to others out there. Actually, I do. They can hide behind their computers and tear others apart to make themselves look/feel better. I know it is hard. Try to not take it to heart. I know I replay things over and over in my head and end up making comments take on a life of their own when I really shouldn't. Give it to God.

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  19. Fantastic post Lindsay! I love your advice and perspective on this. I am also loving the dialogue in your comments. There really is so much good in the online community and while I haven't been hit with any of the bad personally, I can totally understand how it can make someone want to walk away. We are blessed that God is calling you to this community. :) xo

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  20. Great post! I've gotten a couple hurtful comments and it's hard to brush them off. I just need to learn to delete and move on.

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  21. i have no idea how i wasn't following you. i swear i was? oh well, i am now!! i really love this post and your 3 'insights'. you are beautiful and i thank you for sharing your life with us! love, emily

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  22. Although I haven't really gotten nasty comments on my blog (its a small one, and I don't have a shop or anything), I've been in the online world for awhile and people are rude. They hide behind computers and say things to you that they would never say to someone's face. I've been told that I'm a worthless human being with no job, no merit, that I should off myself for my political beliefs. I've been told my profession is worthless. I've been told many things like this and I learned a long time ago not to let it bother me. I 100% agree with the delete button. People who make seriously nasty comments didn't think about you when they wrote them, you shouldn't think about them!

    Wonderful post!

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  23. What a great verse to live by, especially in this 'faceless' world. I haven't had to deal with this too much yet (the blessing of a small blog) I have dealt with it a little bit. Good tips to keep it all in its place.

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  24. Great words to share Lindsay.

    It saddens me that no matter the medium, people find a way to spread negative energy. Some feel so empowered by being behind the computer screen to make someone else feel inferior. However, you have a great story, great inspirations and great words to keep on sharing! I hope all the positive energy you and your followers have will continue to outshine the less positive ones.

    My blog isn't as popular as others and I sometimes fall victim to comparing myself to other bloggers WAY too often. It is hard to stand out when blogging has just picked up in the last year or two! How do you stay, for a lack of a better word, relevant? That would be a great learning post! (I love these!)

    Thanks for sharing your advice in the blogging world.

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  25. I love this post. I've almost deleted my blog numerous times. After a blog retreat from hell last year and seeing the ugly side after being a VA for a popular Christian mommy blogger, I got so cynical about the hearts of others in this online community. It overshadowed the good and the beauty of it all. It wasn't until after I had my daughter in August that I just let it all go. I just completely said, "You know what? I can't control what other people do and say." And I started blogging again. Nowhere near as consistently, but I blog and I didn't delete my account. I have to make sure to stay off of websites like GOMI, etc., or else I'll get saddened all over again. Gosh it's a mean world out there! Keep going and doing what you're doing-- we all love to read your posts and see your artwork!

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  26. Love, love, love! Wise words! My mom always taught me not to be nasty to anybody, but never taught me to stand out for myself, so being respectful while defending one of the most dearest things I have (my blog, even if it's not a big thing...) could be extremely challenging. Thanks for the verse! :)

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  27. I received my first hate comment today. The person accused me of constantly voting for myself in a contest (I voted 0 times!), told me they hoped I would get disqualified and called me a loser.

    I assume it's a supporter of my competition; I just don't understand the audacity to accuse me and the rude name-calling. I wasn't sure if I should warrant the comment with a response or get on with my life. I decided to ignore, though I'm obviously not ignoring it to myself.

    I remembered you posting this so I had to come back and read it. Why can't we all just get along?!

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