I used to be quick to judge people. Then I entered an online talent show in 2006, and suddenly, hundreds of people were saying really horrible things about me. Everything from “You’re annoying” to “I hate you” to “This person should die.” I was sitting at my computer crying because reading awful things about yourself from people who don’t even know you—it’s absolutely terrible.
I still read through all of the comments everyone leaves me, and although I’ve gotten used to hurtful comments to a certain degree, they continue to get to me sometimes (even though I know they shouldn’t). Here’s how I deal.
Remember it probably has nothing to do with you
There have been several times where I’ve interacted with people who have said horrible things. I’ll say, “I can’t believe you would ever say that to me.” Then they’ll write back, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it. I just found out my dad had cancer.” Or something else tragic. Now, when I see a negative comment, I just try to think, “This person is probably in a terrible place in their life right now where they feel they have to say these things to you.”
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Surround yourself with positivity
When I see negative comments, I’ll specifically seek out someone who’s written something supportive, especially surrounding that comment. I feel lucky that, although I do get a lot of mean feedback, the number of positive responses always outweighs the negative. I also spend a lot of time talking to my friends when a comment upsets me. Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive definitely helps.
Type a response—but don’t send it
A lot of times, I’ll write tweets and never send them because it won’t help and there’s no point in getting involved. It can be cathartic to write what you want to say in response, but you have to step back and say, “Is this how I want to be perceived? Will this actually make a difference?” Sometimes I will respond if someone’s said something so completely absurd that I have to set the story straight. But I always do that gut check before I reply.
Now, I feel like if I’m not getting hate comments at least once a day, then I’m not reaching outside of my normal core audience. Sometimes you do need the criticism to push you and motivate you to do better. Of course, there are times when the negative comments are just a product of the fact that people don’t like change. But I think trying to make sure that you’re appealing to the people watching your videos and talking to them and having that dialogue is very important.
Justine Ezarik, a.k.a. iJustine, is one of the top female personalities on YouTube, with more than 3.6 million subscribers across her three channels and more than 600 million video views. Earlier this year, Justine released her first book, iJustine: An Analog Memoir