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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!

sarah cuthill
6/3/2013 12:58:04 AM

Thanks Steven! I know I'm not the only one out there getting hate mail so it's nice to find a supportive community of readers and farmers and supporters that we can all thrive and learn in.


sarah cuthill
6/3/2013 12:56:33 AM

Anyone who thinks a rabbit is defenseless has never been scratched by one... hahahaa! But yes, many of the people who are most "horrified" are the ones who eat the mystery meat from the grocery store.


sarah cuthill
6/3/2013 12:53:49 AM

EXACTLY! It just illustrates perfectly of the type of world we live in now that people are more likely to be vicious and confrontational when they do not have to look you in the eyes. I haven't let them stop me yet so I'm going to keep going strong. Thanks for the encouragement!


steven gregersen
5/31/2013 12:11:51 PM

Sarah, "stupid, cruel, and/or ignorant," pretty well sums up the people who make those kinds of comments. Hang in there!


nebraska dave
5/30/2013 1:53:37 PM

Sarah, your post is so appropriate about the social media of today. People are so far removed from where their food comes from that they are horrified to think some one would kill a defense less animal. However, many are the first to chow down on a steak from the grill. Life and death is a normal way of life on the homestead or in my case the farm. I learned at an early age that animals on the homestead were not pets. I have see the conditions of where store eggs come from and been to the confinement hog production farms. What you do, Sarah, is give the animal the best life possible and most likely keep it from getting consumed by the food chain which give the animal a longer life than it normally would have had.


nebraska dave
5/30/2013 1:53:19 PM

Now the issue of social media today is another whole topic of discussion. Only 7% of communication is done through words. What one person says may not be what another reads. What you are talking about is not miscommunication but flat out being disrespectful. The break in the communication connection has given people the freedom of blurting out what ever they want with no aspect of repercussion. Therefore they say things they would never say face to face. In my humble opinion, it has made people meaner in their conversations with people they don't even know. It is difficult to get harsh comments but I hope that you continue to blog in your own personal way for us to enjoy. The homesteader in us understands your position totally. Have a great day on the homestead.