“How do you deal with negative comments and trolls?” – Jeanne asks. I’ve been asked this question a lot while growing as an artist on Instagram, and I’ve always wanted to answer it in a long and detailed manner.
If you’re still improving your art and trying to find your art style, I have a detailed post that will help you learn how to become an illustrator without a degree.
I started posting my art and comics on Instagram sometime around June 2017, and I was very excited when I started gaining followers. I would wake up early every day to read the comments. Those of you who love to post your art on Instagram will know this wonderful feeling.
The feeling of being loved and praised for your work.
It’s super addictive. Am I right?
But there were some days when I would see a nasty or hurtful comment, and I’d want to crawl under the covers and stop drawing for a while. I was susceptible back then.
I’ve had negative comments from internet trolls, adults who cannot understand my comics or are tired of seeing “hair-related” comics on their feed, and even some from people I’d considered friends. Those hurt the most, let me tell you.
Although, here’s the thing.
When you rise, you rise really high. Some people are genuinely happy for you, and some cannot take it. The ones who love you and respect you will pat you on the back and encourage you to rise further. At the same time, the others will try and bring you down. And then some do absolutely nothing at all but hate you in silence.
These people aren’t really our concern in today’s blog post. It’s all about dealing with hateful and negative comments.
1. The first step to dealing with negative comments – Acceptance
Now, you’re posting your art/photos on Social Media. Therefore you are going to get both – love and hate. Because let’s face it. As an artist, you cannot please everyone.
- 90 people will love your art and rave about it. (These are the people you want to focus on)
- 5 will like it and move on.
- 4 will not like it but move on to something else they do.
- However, 1 will hate on it. Not just hate it, but hate on it.
Now comes the difficult part.
Breathe. Accept it.
If you want people to see your art, you need to make peace with the fact that not everyone will gush over it.
Time to move to the next step.
I had a terrible time last September when I was the victim of cyber-bullying by another artist. It was difficult for me to focus on much. I had never witnessed such blatant animosity, so it was a new and terrifying experience. Hence, I took a trip to Abu-Dhabi to clear my mind and find solace. And I came across a book at the airport.
This book changed my life. I read it while I was on the plane, and everything changed.
That huge, heavy burden that I was carrying on my shoulders suddenly disintegrated into nothing. I cried, and then I laughed. Because I was finally free, and I felt alive.
This particular book- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – Dale Carnegie actually helped me learn that worrying and obsessing over problems (that can’t be solved) was pointless. It taught me to accept the bad and either fix the problem (if there was a solution) or move on if there was no answer.
There is a particular chapter that I love to read. It’s called “No one ever kicks a dead dog.”
Basically, it means that if people are trying to bring you down, you must be doing something right. Something that is gaining a lot of attention. ;)
It helped me understand that you can’t make everyone love you. And you have to make peace with that.
So, I recommend this book to anyone who cannot function properly if there is a problem that can’t be fixed. It covers various aspects.
This book will teach you to move on and stop obsessing about a problem.
2. Don’t take negative comments personally
People love to comment. They love to have a say in everything. Good or bad.
Because let’s face it. It’s easier.
It is easier to type when you’re rattled up or when you’re angry. It’s difficult to type at the same speed when you’re calm, isn’t it?
You have to keep in mind that this is Social Media. Hence, people are more comfortable typing anonymously than saying the same words directly to your face.
The key to remaining calm is to…
3. Identify the type of Negative Comment and deal with it accordingly.
After you’ve made peace with the fact that you’re going to get some negative comments no matter what you do and stop taking it personally, you can deal with the comment directly.
But how do you deal with a negative comment when there are so many types? Let’s analyze each category, and I will show you the correct way to answer/not answer each one.
1. The Naïve Negative comments
These people don’t mean to be rude. They’re just speaking their mind and trying to give you (what they believe is) constructive criticism, even though you didn’t ask for it, and it looks a little rude.
The key to replying to this type of negative comment is to be kind and, at the same time, helpful. Help the person understand your point of view and leave it at that. No additional response is necessary.
2. The Need to draw Attention Negative Comments.
These comments are the most harmless negative comments you’ll find. They’ll either insult you and praise themselves for drawing attention to their own art, or they’ll shamelessly promote themselves.
You have three choices.
One – respond in a witty and humorous way or two – leave it alone and let your followers defend your art for you, or three – delete the comment and block this person because you don’t know if they will do it over and over again on all of your other posts too.
3. The Grammar Nazi Negative comments.
Now mind you, I’m not talking about the Grammar Nazis that are genuinely trying to help you. Those types of comments are sweet and thoughtful.
This post is only about negative comments. And these commenters will try to spot the tiniest mistake and jump on it like a cheetah on unsuspecting prey. They’re just waiting to catch you make a mistake.
So, when you do make a mistake, they’re going to be like, “Aha! A mistake!” And instead of simply pointing it out, they will write a whole paragraph judging you and reminding you why your mistake is a huge offense.
Therefore, the best way to respond to these commenters is to acknowledge your mistake and correct it simply. After revealing your mistake to you, they will expect you to bow down and confess your undying love to them for pointing out your mistake. But by keeping your reply short, sweet, and dignified, you will annoy them to their very core. And they will likely repeat this in the future.
4. The Internet Troll.
This is by far the most ruthless and senseless negative commenters you’ll find on the Internet. These types of people love to troll only to poke you and get a reaction. Hence, they shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Most trolls will have a very ambiguous profile picture and won’t know you from Adam. Their comments may be personal, but they will have NO first-hand knowledge about you. They want to annoy you and get under your skin.
Therefore, it is essential not to let them win.
Some trolls aren’t so bad. They may be good underneath all that venom. So, if you feel a reply may be in order, go ahead. See how they respond. If it’s a nice, logical response, well and good. However, if it’s more anger and rage-filled words being strewed around, scroll past it.
If I know a troll is just being nasty for the sake of irritating me, I respond with a quirky, teasing reply to show them that they’ve not succeeded.
However, if the comment targets you personally and is purposefully spiteful, it’s best not to respond. You can either delete the comment or block them or do both.
Do. Not. Feed. The. Trolls.
I cannot stress this enough. Logic will get you nowhere with most trolls. It’s extremely pointless to try and reason with them after the first failed attempt. They will continue to throw around unrelated arguments till you concede or break down. They want to win.
By trying to win with them, you will not only lose your morale, but you will also look extremely petty. You don’t need to stoop down to their level. Let them dig their own little graves. ^_^
5. The Honest (but wrongly timed, wrongly placed) Negative Comment.
Now there is a fifth type of negative comment. The negative comment is truthful but somewhat crude. Like when someone points out a mistake, you made somewhat harshly. You can either acknowledge your mistake or choose not to reply.
Now you may ask, why not reply? The person has just said something dauntingly true, albeit a little harsh. If I don’t reply, won’t it look like I’m a coward?
No. Here’s why.
A person who genuinely wants to correct you and point out your flaw will never do it in public. They will either email you or personal message you. These people genuinely care about you and want you to correct the mistake.
But people who point it out in public want to draw attention to your mistake. They want to show the world how right they are and how wrong you are. This is why a response is not necessary.
The way you respond defines your character.
Overall, each response/non-response will show the public what you really are. Don’t be afraid of negative comments. Those who are sensible will not hit “unfollow” by reading someone else’s negative comment on your feed—those who will believe just about anything might. You can also use a comment bot to respond if you’re short on time.
Hold on to those who love you and have your back. They are your pillars of strength, and they are what you need. Let the others leave if they have to.
How you respond in a chaotic situation is the biggest test of character. Stay calm and always be rational. In cases where you must not respond, let your silence speak volumes.
People will respect you when you’re dignified and positive.
Before I end this blog post, I want to talk about this book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – Dale Carnegie.
I owe my mental peace to this Author. Because he taught me how to start living and stop worrying. And the biggest takeaway from this book is this quote (that is originally in the Bible) that I repeat over and over again whenever I feel I’m lost in worrying.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Now, if you don’t believe in God, that’s okay. I understand. Talk to the universe instead.
This quote changed my life. This book changed how I operate. And I owe a lot of my wisdom and tranquillity to this book. Read it if you haven’t. You won’t regret it, trust me.
It is effortless for me to write these tips because I’ve experienced all these firsthand. But I know practicing these is harder than it looks. In any case, whatever the negative comment, don’t let it affect you personally. You need to develop thick skin to become a successful artist.
The higher you rise, the more stones people will pelt at you. Therefore, you’re obviously doing something right.
In the end, you must remember that no one can bring you down if you’re confident and believe in yourself. No one can make you feel bad about yourself except you. Take everything you see on Social Media with a pinch of salt.
What was your first experience with a negative comment? How did you respond?
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
- How to Become an Illustrator – Learn my process and tools
- How to start an Art Blog – A step by step tutorial
- 10 things I wish I knew before becoming an Illustrator
- 10 signs you’re a natural-born artist
- 23 surprising ways to overcome creative blocks
- 13 Easy Ways to Make Money as an Artist
- How to be a confident artist and keep drawing even when you feel like you can’t
If you are looking to hone your creativity and make money with your art skills, I highly suggest checking out my Creative Guide for Creatives.