Hate thrown at your face never feels good.
I don’t care whether your Rocky with big balls of steel or Wonder Woman with a dangerous whip. Hate sucks.
Over the last week I’ve read three nasty articles about me. Over the last 6-12 months I’ve read even more. The common denominator is I don’t know 99% of these people and have never spoken to them. They definitely don’t know me.
Here’s how hate feels and how I deal with it, so you can armor yourself when it happens to you (and it will).
Those who were once close hurt the most
A few years back I joined several writing groups.
It felt amazing. I got close with so many other writers who could write way better than me. They shared their insights. I always thought I’d be friends with these writers for the rest of my life.
Then things started to go south on a few platforms last year. The love turned to hate. A small number of these writers became angry and selfish. They made demands like “support my business or else.”
The worst one I copped was one writer got angry that I got into online education (my life goal since 2004). Somehow they thought the idea of an online writing academy was unique.
They claim I stole their idea.
They went on a reign of terror that continues to this day. In the process, they ruined their reputation. Then after accusing me of stealing their idea they went and directly copied and pasted all of another writer’s sales emails.
Unfortunately, they forgot to remove that writer’s name when they sent out the stolen sales emails. It was pretty obvious they did the stealing.
Lesson 1: when someone accuses you of stealing, often, they’re the real thief. Normal people don’t think ideas are Nobel Prizes. Nope. And successful people praise execution over ideas.
Here’s an idea you can steal from me: Uber … but for boats instead of cars. Smart, huh? No, it’s just a dumb idea I came up with on the toilet this morning.
Lesson 2: Careful who you spend time with. Selfishness is a red flag.
Don’t name and shame
When I see writers name and shame others I watch them dig a grave for their writing career. 99% of the audience will switch off.
Mature adults attack ideas. Adult babies attack people.
The mature way to handle yourself online is to leave out names when you’re going on a rant about an issue you’ve faced. It’s fun to shame others but the truth is this quote applies to anyone you claim has harmed you:
Everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
This saying nukes the temptation to spread hate. Contemplate it before you ever think about throwing mud over your neighbors’ fence.
They’ll move on
Sometimes I feel like a rainbow pinata horse.
The truth is haters will normally move on fast. There are other clown shows to attend. They’re looking for a reaction. When they don’t get one they give up.
After all, most online hate is the result of lonely people desperately hunting for ‘likes’ to get attention. Once you know that deep down, the hate starts to evaporate in your mind.
How it feels
I get asked this all the time.
Most of the time these nasty articles that make fun of my success don’t mean much. All I can think is “they want what you have.” That’s because a lot of hate is jealousy in disguise.
I’m not ashamed of any tiny success I may have had over the years.
I worked my face off to get it. I burned out several times in the process. I walked away from a startup. I got dumped by the woman I loved because of my pursuit of success, too. And I even got fired from my job.
Every good moment in life comes with trade-offs.
If you want to be successful in your field you have to be prepared to push the boundaries, to make people uncomfortable. And when you do, some of that will translate into criticism or hate. That’s okay.
Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable — Banksy
Hate is fear in disguise.
Fear makes us do wild things to prevent ourselves from feeling what’s really going on. Sure, when I wake up to yet another article with a title like “writes like crap” it’s never a fun moment.
All sorts of feelings bubble up. In the early days I felt angry and outraged. As I’ve grown older I’ve become more mindful and present.
Honestly, I just want the best for people. I don’t want anyone to “get what’s coming to them” or trip on a landmine and blow up.
My hope is that we can show each other more compassion. Because when you do you get access to unfair results. How? Your reputation creates your future opportunities.
A reputation is built on soft skills like compassion and self-awareness.
Bottom line: Put yourself in the shoes of others. You’ll feel less hate and more chilled.
Don’t worry about people not liking you. Most of them don’t even love themselves — Justin Kan
It makes me emotional
Online hate leads some people to do the unthinkable.
I know too many people who can’t deal with what I sometimes have to face online. Thinking about them and how the hate impacts their life makes me emotional. I hate seeing people get hurt.
I’m a big softie beneath the rebellious Mark Manson-wannabe persona.
Emotion is a powerful force that hijacks your heart and changes your actions for the better.
How to deal with hate/critics like a badass
Here are a few techniques I use. Steal ’em.
Think of critics like this
A critic earns $0 for the privilege of attacking you.
They waste their time and their life. So you’re getting the better side of the deal when you ignore bad criticism.
Some criticism is good, especially when it’s thoughtful and makes you think. But most online criticism isn’t helpful because it’s carefully disguised bullying. Or even worse, a form of entertainment for lonely buggers.
Don’t let critics live rent-free in your head.
Be yourself online
The worst thing you can do is become a puppet and act how others wish you would. Living like that feels terrible — your spirit gets crushed and your true self is oppressed.
As Dita Von Teese said: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
Don’t dim ya light for nobody.
Let them win
My friend Dino copped a nasty dose of online hate a few years back. He came out the other side of it a millionaire. It allowed him to quit his job as a public school teacher and write online full time.
Here’s what he said: “Start letting other people [especially critics] win arguments, on purpose.”
Expect hate if you want success
If you walk into a room 50% of people will feel nothing. 25% of people will love you. 24% won’t like you. 1% will hate you and say nasty stuff.
Don’t let the 1% of people determine your results. Disagreement is hard-wired into our brains. Social media has amplified it. Hate is a fact of life. How you deal with it is up to you.
Some people will never like you because your spirit irritates their demons — Denzel Washington
A killer way to deal with criticism
The quickest way to shut down critics is to laugh it off and not take yourself too seriously.
It’s why I make jokes about “Denning-Kruger effect” as a play on the actual psychological concept “Dunning-Kruger.”
I know critics will say stuff like this about me so I beat ’em to it. You can too. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
None of us is perfect
So stop trying to be.
As Lex Fridman says: “No one is perfect. If you look for the bad you will find it. If you look for the good, you will find it. Choose wisely what you look for.”
Ask a critic this question to see if they’re trying to be helpful
A small amount of criticism online is actually legit. Chris Hladczuk taught me to ask this question if I want to find out:
“What proof would it take to change your mind?”
If they can’t give you an answer, then stop wasting your time.
Be on the right side of history
There’s never been a statue erected for a critic says Zig Ziglar. That’s because the $0 job of a critic requires no qualifications or intelligence. My friend Dakota said it brilliantly: “History remembers creators, not critics.”
So go out and create instead of critique (aka procrastinate).
The paradox of hate
You might think all of this nastiness is bad. You may even feel sorry for me. But I don’t want you to because that will not help you or me. See, the beautiful paradox about hate and critics is this:
The more hate you get online, the more love you get in return.
The average reader I encounter is a good human. They can see through the nastiness. They understand my goal: to inspire. So they fight the good cause and do the work of helping to squash the hate for me. Nice.
My biggest concern for humanity
In a few months my unborn daughter will arrive. What keeps me awake at night is wondering how she will deal with online hate one day.
I don’t want her to give up on her dreams because some drunk hater had a bad day and makes up a bunch of semi-logical arguments to force their opinion on her. Too many dreamers are destroyed because of critics.
Just ask anyone who works a 9-5 job.
It’s rare you’ll meet someone from the corporate world who hasn’t directly or indirectly encountered toxic leaders who give unsolicited harsh feedback that leads people to give up or stay in the same job for far too long.
The freedom to dream is a basic human right. Don’t let it get taken away.
What all this means for you
Learn to deal with criticism. It can’t be avoided. And if you get tempted to become a critic in your spare time, don’t. The world needs doers, not couch potato cavemen throwing mud at each other.
I’ll leave you on this note…
The level of criticism you get equals your level of success.