So many thoughts are running around my brain that I don’t really know where to start. Does that happen to you? I’m sure I’m not the only one who sometimes has trouble articulating her thoughts clearly. I usually just chock it up to the size of my large brain and the massive amounts of information it holds. Wink wink. The interwebs are a beautiful thing. I love the connections it creates and the opportunities I’m given to share work, thoughts, images, and memories. However, the web can also be dangerous because of the anonymity it provides. Over the years, I have seen family, friends, and acquaintances tear themselves down after reading comments about something they shared. Some of the comments they read were from strangers, but a good chunk of the feedback they were given was given to them by people they knew. Some were people they loved! It’s never easy to take, but sometimes it’s the most helpful when the feedback we receive isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Thoughts about online negativity, especially thoughts from bloggers, aren’t a new thing to the internet. I’m all about promoting a positive vibe between makers, readers, influencers, and such. But to me, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any form of critique. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have seen some of the trash-talk on the web from people about other people. Humans! Talking about other humans! And it’s deeply unsettling. I don’t believe that those comments are meant to guide the person they’re written for, but more for the writer to feel better about themselves by just bashing another. The trolls are real, and they can definitely get you down. However, there are constructive comments that are disguised as contradictory comments. These might not always agree with what is being shared. And that’s just fine. Not all criticism is constructive, but even the some of the negative, can result in a positive. You still with me? Creators love hearing from their audience. I love hearing from you. Whether it’s in the form of a comment, a share, a like, or an email. I rely on feedback from you to learn your likes and dislikes so that I can better share content that inspires here on Proper. And sometimes, something that I am in love with might not be your cup of tea. Or vice-versa! And that’s okay!
Too many times, I’ve seen people shut out those whose opinions don’t align with their own. Instead of taking the feedback in stride, they ultimately thought the world was out to get them. Instead of looking for the underlying message, and using it to better themselves, they shut down. While I do wish that everyone loved everyone and the internet was filled with only unicorns, that’s just not realistic. All this is to say that I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be someone who can’t grow and adapt and listen. And while I feel lucky that most of the feedback here is loving and kind and positive (I chock that up to being small-time!), I never want to take that for granted. So I’m going to grow a thicker skin and help myself and others find the good in the bad.
Over the last few months, I’ve watched as people I admire were torn to shreds by their online audience. And it was too much for them to handle. Not only was a problem not solved, but loyal readers were turned off and alienated in the process. I’m hoping that more discussions can be led about not just being positive and promoting kindness, but also how to handle the negativity gracefully when it comes (and it usually will). I hope that we can all be a little more positive, but I also hope that we can also be more understanding. This is something that has been weighing on me heavily for the last few months and I wanted to open the discussion here.
I’d love to know YOUR thoughts. How do you handle criticism? What do you think we could do better? Do you have any suggestions for how to respond to someone who is in disagreement with you? Let’s talk about it!
graphic \\ illustration by Lexy Ward. quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson
It”s generally pretty easy to tell if the criticism is meant to be helpful or just straight up trolling — people don’t ignore the latter often enough. In fact, if they’re willing to spend a minute out of their day to write something negative — it better be constructive!
Frankly, I appreciate criticism because it tells me what I should do differently or help me understand things that I may have miscommunicated. While hearing the “that’s looks amazing!” or “wow! great job!” feels good — we all like to be recognized for our efforts — it doesn’t motivate me personally to try or do something different.
Yes! Annie! Couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately, people don’t really ignore the trolls often enough. It is nice to be praised for our work, but it’s more meaningful when we can accept another’s suggestions and better ourselves because of it.
This is a struggle for me, and I suspect it is for a lot of people. Whenever I get a comment about a recipe correction, my instinct is to say, “ugh, shut up.” but with some effort I make myself look into the criticism. I think it’s what you act on that counts!
Exactly, Lizzy! We all have the ability to control what we say and how we react. And I’ve seen some people just go the “shut up” route and it’s damaging to not only their readers, but to them as well!
Julia [Chris Loves Julia] says
I have been thinking about this for, literally, years. We are the target of some good amounts of criticism both on our blog…and elsewhere. Ahem. And honestly, I don’t mind the elsewhere. I think it should stay elsewhere–really! But I struggle with coming into someone’s space and leaving negativity. Constructive criticism, I get and welcome. But it’s only constructive if, in the case of one of our remodels, it happens during the process–perhaps in the form of a question. If it is after a craft/remodel/project is complete and someone says, “I don’t like it.” (or something similar) the only thing that changes is–them saying that. The project is done. The post is done. It literally does nothing but breed negativity, and in our case, sometimes I can’t look at the wall the same way again–which is difficult since we live here! I am, personally, grateful that I have full control over my fingertips so that when I run across a project that I don’t love, I am not forced to comment at all.
Yes! Thank you! I completely agree. Some people just visit to be negative, and there isn’t anything we can do accept either delete, respond defensively, or let it slide and accept it with grace. I’ve seen some people give you negative feedback and you’ve always handled it with such class! You’re definitely an example of someone who opens things up for discussion! xox!
Hello Lexy! I happen to stumble upon your blog and read this post and had a few thoughts to share. I’m not a blogger–just somebody who loves Instagram and following inspirational feeds, blogs, features, etc. I’m not sure how this sounds and please forgive me if this at all comes off mean-spirited in any way. Recently I did unfollow a Lifestyle blogger I had longtime followed and yes, it was exactly for a few of the reasons you noted above–I was extremely turned off by the negative comments–some trolls–some just upset readers. This particular blogger had recently given birth and was frequently sharing products she had received from several companies. Although, yes, it did make me uncomfortable, I refused to provide any negative comments like others were…but it made me think..is there ever a good way to provide constructive criticism without getting anybody upset?? The blogger eventually asked everybody to stop posting negative comments, but I’m not sure if there is ever a good way for us, readers, to share if we are not necessarily crazy about the content…in a great way. Again, please, I hope you don’t take offense–just talking…or well…writing out loud 😉