“I want to warn you there are some ignorant comments on [your video] which I did report, and I am of course angry and disappointed. Trollish behavior is something that happens way too much in our society.”
Reading that kind of warning in an e-mail about something as important and monumental as your TEDx talk going live can be disarming.
For context, I’m a plus-size, LGBT, woman with a visible chronic illness whose TEDx talk was about ending the gender wage gap. Online trolls were something that I expected, but it felt like I’d been suckerpunched in the gut when I saw 14 thumbs down and four negative comments on the Youtube video.
My initial thought was “abort mission, take it down, get it unpublished.” But instead of letting the haters win, I rose above… and here’s how you can, too.
It’s okay to be upset about receiving online hate. One of the worst mistakes that entrepreneurs can make is bottling up their feelings.
That doesn’t mean go on a hate tirade against the trolls, but step away from your phone and your computer, take a few minutes to let yourself react.
Even if you do your best to tell your mind it doesn’t matter, your body reacts to emotions, so avoiding emotional pain won’t do you much good in the long run anyway.
One of the most powerful motivators to stay on course when you’re dealing with online hate is to reconnect with your why.
Why are you doing this work?
Why is it meaningful to you?
Why is it important?
It’s essential to have a driving reason behind the work you’re doing – aside from helping you make decisions in your business, when you come across difficult moments in your entrepreneurial journey, it will help drive you forward.
My mission is to change how we speak to and socialize girls so that their confidence gap decreases, they seek out mentorship earlier, and we create young allies in boys. The hate that I received is proof of the work we still have to do.
The worst thing you can do is respond to an online troll. While that might be your initial instinct, you’re giving them exactly what they want – a fight. And while it might have been difficult to avoid haters in the days when people would hate call instead of rage comment, engaging with online trolls today is a choice.
Simply don’t engage. Instead, report the person for online harassment and block them from your pages so they can’t come back and comment again.
If you’re in a situation like me, where it’s impossible to get an immediate removal, don’t check the post for a few days or have someone act as an intermediary.
For every hater, you’ve got 1000 fans. So leverage those people. Instead of recoiling from the hate and being afraid to show your face, be proud and put your work out there into the world.
Your brand evangelists and loyal fans will always be there to support you, and share your content, comment on it, and bring awareness to others who see the importance of the work you’re doing and know the value of what you bring to the table.
Acknowledge that these are people who are scared, in pain, or misinformed.
It can be difficult, but one of the most powerful things you can do in the face of online hate is to show compassion to trolls.
Sarah Silverman exemplified this when the comedian helped shift the perspective of an online hater and got him help. Silverman’s compassion is something we can all model.
For most of us, taking time to comment on things we don’t like isn’t a driving mission and it’s not our purpose.
Online trolls, haters, and dissenters are often people who are scared of change, in emotional and mental pain, or simply don’t have the facts. Showing compassion is a potent way to reframe hate and put you back in control of your own narrative.
Remember: At the end of the day, the voices of your supporters will always be louder than a few trolls. So if you know that the mission and message you have to share with your product or service needs to be heard, let that be your motivator and let nothing – not even online haters – stop you.