Dealing with haters

Anyone with a slightly visible online presence has to deal with haters, flamers, trolls and the rest of their ilk. This Tim Ferris video on dealing with haters is three years old but it’s still all relevant – except the bit about Steve Jobs, of course.

Tim talks for about 30 minutes but it’s so good I watched it all. He covers everything from what motivates haters – they usually aspire to be in publishing in some form – to whether to starve them of oxygen or pour gasoline on their fires.

If you’re not into the long haul on the video, his post includes a brief 7 point written list, each point with a paragraph expanding on Tim’s thoughts.

I enjoyed Tim’s matter-of-fact approach to dealing with the inevitable hate, his understanding of haters’ motivations and his practical tips.

Starve the haters of oxygen

One of Tim’s pearls of wisdom that I’ve been putting into practice for a few years now is to starve haters of oxygen. Not only do I not draw attention to haters’ diatribes, I don’t listen to their podcasts or go to their websites.

Why bother? Even one click from me gives them what they want: attention recorded in their Google Analytics. If I refer people to their website to read their crap then they win. Why do it?

Tim describes the act of ignoring these haters as starving them of oxygen.

The ten per cent

Tim’s says 10% of people will always take what you say personally.

This year I came to the conclusion that at least 10% of the science fiction community are bottom-feeders. I reached this conclusion not only because of my own experiences as a target but upon learning that Theodore Beale, the misogynistic white supremacist who shockingly attacked N K Jemisin, vilifying her for her skin colour, this same Theodore Beale ran for president of the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America, a global professional organisation) and garnered 10% of the vote. At that point I figured at least 10% of the community must be bottom-feeders.

Hits vs relationships

Tim advises people to research interviewers before agreeing to an interview. If the interviewer has a history of hatchet jobs, misrepresenting people or even libeling them, then DON’T DO EET.

Tim had real-world friends so obsessed with visits to their websites that they’ve libeled him, ripping in to Tim just to get hits. Apparently their responses when called on it are ‘But it’s the internet, don’t worry about it’ as if it’s ok to behave appallingly on the web.

Tim advises us to focus on people who are interested in relationships not sensation to get clicks.

I am proud to say I only interview people with a view to building relationships, both with the interviewee and with their fans. I’ve even edited interviews to the satisfaction of the interviewee when they’ve preempted an official announcement or said more than they felt they should have on a topic. My focus has always been to work with people, making interviews a positive experience. People interested in sensational exposes can go elsewhere.

Shame on you

Tim refers us to Letters from a Stoic by Seneca. This dude lived in Ancient Greece. Apparently even back then the mindless mob mocked Stoic philosophers for wearing the wrong shade of purple robe or not wearing the correct tunic. Some Stoics invited mockery as a form of inoculation against ridicule. Their aim: to only ever feel ashamed of shameful things, not to feel ashamed of silly little unshameful things.

We need to do the same. Or, as my friend Rebecca says, ‘Drink a cup of concrete.’

Watch Tim’s video

I highly recommend watching Tim’s video in full. I’ve bookmarked it and I’m planning to re-watch it soon. He has lots of good advice with some great analogies and word-pictures mixed in. If you’re planning to publish in any form, you’ll acquire your own haters. Be prepared.