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A Bulletproof Guide for Dealing with Haters, Trolls, and Critics like a Pro

by | Dec 6, 2021 | Writing

Seeing your name in a headline with 10,000 likes is enough to make a grown man like me cry. Not going to lie.

It hurts like hell.

I’m uniquely positioned to educate you about online hate. I’ve had plenty of mud thrown at me over the last 7 years because I chose to write online and rack up more than 500 million views (not to brag). Writing online even forced certain critics to threaten my job and ability to provide for my family.

One time things got so bad I had a group of trolls on Linkedin chase me all over the internet. They found a way to make money from what they called “online takedowns.”

You could pay them to destroy the reputation of anybody you wanted. They were successful … well, until all the big platforms banned them for life.

As dumb as it is to admit, I’ve also been a dangerous hater. I spent years hurling abuse at strangers on the internet so I could make myself feel better about my (then) failed life.

You’re about to read what I’ve learned, combined with a database of advice I’ve been collecting for years. After you read this article, online hate will never mess up your life or stop you from doing anything online ever again. Let’s go.

Why “haters gonna hate”

They see your opinion as a personal attack

It’s normal for us to have differences of opinion. Haters take this reality as an act of war. They want us all to agree with them, or they’ll take you down. It’s an immature way to live life online.

They hate themselves

Stop worrying about being liked by people who don’t even like themselves — Lawrence King

Life can cause us to take an emotional beating. Online hate is a release valve for many people. They don’t like who they’ve become and being a troll is easier than dealing with their own problems. To them, it’s the world’s fault and life is unfair. So you must suffer online abuse.

I’ve never met a happy person who gets mad online — @SaveYourSons

They seek revenge

Revenge destroys you if you indulge. Haters get upset when you succeed or do something they have dreamt of doing. Their game plan is to get revenge at the cost of your reputation. Don’t join the game and expect revenge for the pain their harsh comments cause you.

Karma settles all scores.

Confucius once said, “When you set out on a journey of revenge, first dig two graves.”

Hating can make you a lot of money

Online hate is a highly profitable business model that can make you stupidly rich. Knock anything popular. Say the opposite of what most of us think just to piss people off.

When you follow this formula you’re not clever. You’re gaslighting innocent people’s lives for money. It’s a nasty form of clickbait. It’s a bait-and-stab-you-in-the-face form of content.

I know a few 6-figure haters.

They do well in the short term. As I watch their progress over the long term, they burn out. People eventually figure out the way they make their money. It’s not much different to selling illegal drugs or being a member of the mob.

Live fast, kill your career early.

The hate model is nothing new. CNN figured out that headlines that cause us to hate one another and send us into a rage can make tonnes of money. They’ve been making money this way for years.

Put “America is doomed” in a headline and you’ll get clicks. The devastating effects on people’s mental health are what is hard to see. If you can sleep at night with this guilt then good for you. I can’t.

Haters are not always easy to spot

When I look back at people I’ve organized with & later grew to distrust, there are some common themes, but I am telling you, one of them is a consistently mean sense of humor.

Their jokes were always about making someone look or feel foolish. I consider this a major red flag now. — @MsKellyMHayes

Satire content is a huge red flag.

If I see people taking the piss out of everyone and everything, my spidey-sense kicks in. Dark humor is often deep pain in disguise. It’s designed as a hidden form of attention-seeking.

Not every hater is easy to spot. Some pose as friends. They slide into your DMs and sound innocent. I’ve had a few people I deemed friends turn into vicious, out-of-control, haters.

My motto is this:

When the views and money go down on a social media platform, nice people can turn into crazies. It’s a reminder that serves me well.

Because anybody can go from sane to insane on the internet, be careful what you put in DMs and emails.

Don’t talk behind people’s backs. You can find all your private thoughts shared online by a newly minted troll if you’re not careful.

You can literally kill people with hateful content

Author and podcaster Tim Ferris recently shared a story that left me speechless. Early in his career he got close to a fan. He implemented everything Tim wrote about. It made Tim feel good.

One day he got a message from the fan’s assistant. It turned out the fan had taken their own life. The fan claimed Tim’s work made him do it.

It may feel good to be a hater, but what you say and do online can have adverse effects on people. Thankfully, I’ve had the opposite happen. A few readers over the years have said my more inspiring pieces of work have helped them get out of a dark place and reframe from taking their lives.

Before you say or do anything hateful online, remember that it can kill people. You don’t want that blood on your hands. Be nice.

Here’s why you should ignore haters

You’ll always stay small if you don’t ignore them

Eventually my desire to have impact overtook my desire to stay small, safe, comfortable, and free of judgment. — Marie Poulin

My life would suck if I never embraced the hate. I’d still be sitting in a dark corner, ruined by mental illness, deathly afraid to speak up about what matters to me.

If you let the haters win you stay small. That will lead to regrets on the day you die.

Most of them have never taken a risk

When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home — Rumi

Don’t let the comments of haters trap you. They’ve never done the thing you’re trying to do.

They prefer to sit on the sidelines than get in the game and take risks themselves. Instead, seek advice from people who have achieved your highly personal goals.

Hating is an excuse

“I hate Elon Musk.”

“Grant Cardone is a scam.”

“Gary Vee is annoying AF.”

Hating on something is just your brain’s way of justifying why you aren’t willing to work for it  — @finance_hipster

We hate online what we can’t be bothered to do the doing. I hate the cold shower fan club all the time because the one time I tried it I failed. Now it’s simply easier to make fun of this navy seal habit.

It’s easy to throw dirt at a celebrity or anybody who has achieved enormous success. It doesn’t move the world forward though. No matter what you’re successful in, you have to give up something to get there (many give up family time).

So there is no true online success. Just a bunch of difficult trade-offs.

Alexander Cortes explains why you should stay away from accidentally using this approach. “Attacking someone else for clout is a great way to build a bad reputation The people that follow you for this are jackals. They’ll eat you too eventually.”

Haters persuade nobody

Have you ever noticed that the most argumentative people rarely persuade anyone of anything?

The most persuasive people don’t argue more — they observe, listen, and ask questions. Persuasion is an art that requires a paintbrush, not a sledgehammer. — Sahil Bloom

Haters often think their opinions create change. They don’t. Action creates change and a nasty comment is a million miles away from that.

Don’t be fearful that a hater is persuading strangers on the internet to dislike you. They’re not.

Most people can see an angry devil spewing vomit all over everybody. The average person just ignores a hater. The hater thinks we’re listening. The truth is we’ve tuned out.

Toxic gossip dies

Gossip dies as soon as it hits people who mind their own f*cking business — Pammy_DS

A common form of online hate is gossip.

Gossip has zero citations or links to sources. Gossip makes assumptions and tries to misinterpret situations. I had one guy on social media that used to leave the comment “that didn’t happen” on every one of my posts.

I had another hater leave a comment on a post I wrote about two legendary lesbian employees that used to work for me, and made my male counterparts look silly. He said “tag the lesbians or they don’t exist.” People spammed his comment with “some people want privacy, you know.”

Gossip without facts gets ignored. Don’t stress. Your true fans will set the score straight. You don’t need to do a thing.

Haters secretly want to look good

There are a lot of people who just like to virtue signal against the idea of making money — Naval Ravikant

To discredit making money online is the easiest form of virtue signaling. Haters seek to pit us against each other to gain financial wealth. It’s stupid. We’re all entitled to make money from the internet and feed our family if we choose.

The reason why haters virtue signal is to build up their own character. Humans love to look and feel smart. Virtue signaling is how they do it.

They can’t hold two opposing ideas in their head

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function — F. Scott Fitzgerald

The fact you have a different opinion pisses them off. They can’t see a world where an idea is both right and wrong. Take coroni-macaroni in 2020.

On the one hand, lockdowns helped solve the spread of the disease. On the other hand, lockdowns limited our quality of life and violated basic freedoms. I learned to hold both opposing ideas in my tiny brain.

The point isn’t to be right or wrong. It’s to think deeply about ideas and their impacts from both sides.

The dirty little secret of haters

What I learned over the past years is that haters mostly hate because they’d like to have what you have — Sinem Gunel

Haters secretly want what you have. They’ll never admit it though. Why be thrown off your game by a person who is jealous and wants the life you have?

No one has time to hate you as much as you think

In my 20’s, I worried about what people were thinking about me.

In my 30’s, I stopped caring what people were thinking about me.

In my 40’s, I realized no one was really thinking about me very much.” — @adwane

Let them hate you. They’ll move on soon enough. Your life isn’t that exciting. They’ll get bored if you don’t respond or ignore them. This is why haters do what they do according to author Ryan Holiday.

Hurt people hurt people.

How to combat haters

Become a loser of arguments

Useful advice: Let other people win arguments on purpose — Art of Purpose

The way you defeat haters is to let them think they’ve won. If there’s nothing to argue about then there’s no reason to waste any more time. Great.

Lead with optimism

Cynicism destroys. Optimism creates. — Lex Fridman

Choose to see the world slightly better than it is.

Don’t give in to the hate. Remember that most of our worst fears never come true. And when sh*t hits the fan, rather than throw a tantrum, remember this: never discount human ingenuity. Humans can survive the most brutal events that the haters say will destroy us.

People remember positivity and quickly forget negativity (as it gets exhausting).

Ask yourself, “what have they built?”

Most people who criticize startups and founders have never built anything themselves — Sahil Patel

Don’t take advice from haters who seek to destroy. Take advice from people who create. What have they done in their life? Are they qualified to hate you? Or is hate a way to get lifeless likes?

Do you respect them?

I can’t be offended by someone I don’t respect — Arlan

Take advice from people you respect seriously. Most advice is bad advice — especially the advice from an out of control bully looking to feast on your energy reserves and suck the life out of you.

Keep being yourself

No one watches you harder than haters — give them a good show — Pammy_DS

If you stop doing what you do then haters win.

You win when you keep going. Eventually when you win enough times they’ll move on and find an easier target who will let their hate affect them. That’s not you. Shine bright. SalesNotepad on Twitter says, “Note to self: Your anger is their victory.”

Show no anger, lose no fake online battle.

Be kind to your former self

I used to be a 4 am, green smoothie a-hole. Haters can easily pull up things you said years ago to make you look bad. It’s easy to think, “crap, I did say that” and become upset. Don’t.

Your opinion changes over time. Don’t hate your self from a year ago. You’re a different person now and it’s normal. See the growth, not your limiting past thoughts that have changed.

A transformative way to think of haters

Up until this point I’ve been brutal towards haters. It’s time to shift gears.

A hater shouldn’t become an enemy

Just because you lost me as a friend, doesn’t mean you gained me as an enemy. I’m bigger then that, I still wanna see you eat, just not at my table.

— Tupac Shakur

What a beautiful way to look at the world from one of the most violent men in rap music history.

Nobody should want to see another human die, or starve, or get left homeless. Not everybody is part of your tribe. That’s okay. Wish them well and move on.

Show haters compassion

They probably can’t see the error in their ways. They’re trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts that have led to this point.

My firm belief is always leave the door open for forgiveness. Your past haters can change. Let them. If they do then show mercy. Don’t take grudges to the grave and become a bitter, twisted a-hole.

Biggest lesson in life: don’t ever think it can’t happen to you — Aaron Will

Haters show you parts of yourself

If you hate a person, you hate something in them that is part of yourself — Hermann Hesse

The truth is part of what haters say can help you to understand your own flaws. I’ve used feedback from haters to question my own privilege.

The human condition from person to person isn’t that different. Maybe what haters point out could lead to a growth opportunity for you. Maybe feedback can hep identify your blind spots, even if the feedback isn’t accurate.

Haters can unleash untapped potential

I purposely follow people with whom I disagree. This is how people grow — @SteveOnSpeed

Over the years I’ve followed people who hold the opposite views to me about money, crypto, politics, and the global health crisis. Some of the views have taught me valuable lessons. They’ve even helped harden my investing conviction with assets like ethereum and bitcoin.

There is hidden growth inside of madness.

The problem might be you

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves — Carl Jung

When I find myself criticizing others it helps point out my irritations.

I get irritated with critics of the making money online movement when my business has a bad month. I get irritated by critics when I’ve gone through a tragedy (like last week).

Use critics as a mirror to find irritations and learn about your current state.

Final Thought

If you want to do anything big with your life, make money online or have any form of online success, you’ll have to get good at dealing with haters, trolls and critics.

What I’ve learned after 7 years is to take all of the online noise lightly. We’re all doing the best we can. You’re not perfect. You’ll say and do dumb stuff. Just forgive and move on. Or don’t read the feedback for a while until you heal.

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