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Handling Negative Criticism Online

Sarah CuthillHandling criticism online is easier said than done, right?! The internet has surely made many aspects of life easier and some a little harder. With so many blogs out there, it's easy to forget that these are real people writing out their real feelings and in many cases, feelings get hurt. I think it has something to do with the age old saying, "out of sight, out of mind". 

I have only had my own farm blog up and running for two years now, but have certainly met my fair share of online criticism and general 'hate-mail'. I have always run my own blog with the upmost priority being on showing what daily life is like on a learning, growing backyard farm. For the most part, readers really enjoy my honesty. But there always seems to be someone in the crowd that feels the need to prove my farming methods, life choices, and downright being to be wrong. This is by far the hardest part about being online. I know that I'm not wrong. I know that there are many different paths to the same destination. But after a few vicious and demeaning emails and blog comments, it gets to me. Big time.

With my own blog most of the hateful comments I receive are about how I raise my animals. I get a lot of flack since I have made it clear that I raise rabbits, quail, and chickens for meat. Oh, how dare I have the desire to raise healthy meat for my family. How dare I care for and love these animals and then humanely dispatch them. I pride myself in how clean and well taken care of my animals are and how they are handled and held dear to us until the day they are processed. But even so, I have gotten various hate-mail and blog comments that state everything from: 'what a horrible rabbit breeder I am' to 'how could I live with myself for keeping wool rabbits in tiny cages' to 'how I am starving my animals by having them on a natural diet'. I have heard it all and it still hurts when I see those comments and emails in my inbox. I try not to be too sensitive, but usually these attacks feel personal.

One thing I always do is to try to keep in mind that this person doesn't know me and, therefore, cannot possibly make these assessments well. People who leave hateful messages are usually people who are insecure about themselves and it has nothing to do with me. Sometimes I think it may even be jealousy. For some reason they have no other outlet in which to get their rage and frustration out on other than Facebook, Twitter, email, or other social media. That's the age we live in now. Any random person can hate you and disapprove of you. Not just your friends... haha!

It is always helpful to have a support system to reassure you when those emails or comments do get in your head. A good friend, a spouse, or even online fans and readers will often give you that extra little boost you need to get over negativity from others. Sometimes it can help to write out a statement of intent --even if you have no intention of publishing it. Why are you blogging? Why are you writing? Is it for yourself or for others? Think about who you are writing for. If you are writing for yourself, then consider making your blog private or switch your comments 'moderated'. If you are writing to share with others of like-mind, these online Negative Nancys are obviously not your targeted crowd. 

No matter what your situation is, you should let most of the unhelpful criticism you receive roll right off your shoulders. Delete and block! No one deserves to hear that they are stupid or cruel or ignorant and especially not from anonymous internet-haters. Don't burden yourself with the hate of others. You are awesome!