This may be the most ridiculous video I’ve ever made — but the heart still beats a serious note. Comments are great until they get ugly. And by ugly, I mean when creators turn on what (usually) are well-meaning fans. Nothing can alienate a reader like a creator over-reacting to “bad” comments. Especially when the person on the other end meant well.
Get. Over. It.
A common phrase in the art world is “grow a thick skin” but that’s not something that you magically awaken and discover. Learning to accept criticism is a skill, like any other, and it must be practiced. So here’s three steps to help transform a bad comment into a valuable experience.
1. Know thy knee-jerksYour first homework assignment is to study yourself. Review any comments that upset you in the past, whether they were directed at you or not. How did you feel? What made you feel that way? Consider the story you might have told yourself. Did you catch yourself reading between the lines on what the commenter’s intention was? How did you want to respond to that person? Was your initial, knee-jerk reaction to be defensive? Attack back? Run from the situation?
Knowing yourself and your knee-jerk reactions will allow you to recognize them when they happen in the future. When they happen, it’s a sign that you should take a step back. A knee-jerk reaction is very rarely the one you want to act on. Instead, try applying step number 2…
2. Adjust your TranslatorAnything is possible…with the power of cardboard. Hey, it worked for Calvin![/caption]The internet is a great place to push buttons, often on accident. Without tone or body language, we must rely mostly on words, and often we assume the worst. Most of the time, we see an attacker where none exists. So ask yourself “How could a reasonable, well-meaning person say this?” Put yourself in their shoes. Give them the benefit of the doubt when you translate them.
This will help you separate people that accidentally push your buttons from the people that intentionally mean you harm. Trolls do exist. We just don’t want to assume everybody out there is one!
3. Become an Investigator
When in doubt, ask a question! Figure out what you can learn about the other person’s perspective, opinion, or knowledge. It may be that they have something valuable to share with you. Your work looks like someone else’s – how so? Perhaps you could study their work! A reader has some nit-pick problems with what you do? Maybe they have some suggestions on other things you could try. You don’t have to follow all advice, but at least ask questions and get involved. Don’t skulk in the corner feeling attacked. Become actively engaged in connecting, understanding, and growing!
In the case of a troll, ask yourself what purpose is served by trolling you. If someone is trying to tear you down, it means that you have something worth destroying. Take a troll comment as a sign you’re on the right path. Get past the troll, cross the bridge, earn XP, level up. Never let a troll get you to quit doing what you love!
What are some knee-jerk reactions you have?
What might some “bad” comments really mean?
What questions can you ask that will help you engage, understand, and learn?
Robin Dempsey is addicted to storytelling, despite all logical reasoning against this irrationally glorious pursuit. By day she works as a Mechanical Engineer, and in every spare moment outside of that she is making comics. Including in her sleep, on occasion. Addicted to world-building, character crafting, and language making, you can find the results of her sprawling storytelling pursuits at LeyLinesComic.com! Or drop a line on Twitter at RobinofLeyLines.