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Tips from A Mediocre Writer: Don’t Read the Comments

August 28, 2013

Don't read the commentsI’m about a year and a half into the world of online writing and if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that people can be very, very mean. Not the meaningless “you suck harder than your mom” kind of mean that you hear from 13-year-old boys on X-Box Live from time to time, but the soul-crushing, ego-killing, personalized meanness that only dirty fighters and anonymous internet users can provide.

I’ve never really handled criticism well which, as a writer, sets me up for a very long and miserable career, but I can’t help the fact that negative comments make the tiny violin player on my shoulder start playing almost every time. I didn’t put him there. Don’t blame me. Up until this point, I only ever received written comments on school essays or projects. Even after I started writing for HelloGiggles, I was never really exposed to the negativity that typically flows out of the volcanic realms of the interwebs. Most of my articles were about happy or nostalgic subjects, like blanket forts or kittens on Christmas, which drove a lot of the online trolls into hiding. (Find me one bad thing to say about those topics. You can’t. This was my foolproof defense.)

Recently, though, I’ve been writing more and stepping into deeper, more controversial waters. First, let me just say, you’d be astounded at what things people will find fault with. I wrote a story about a disastrous volunteer experience in New Orleans (that ultimately ended up being one of the most inspiring trips I’ve ever been on) and received an onslaught of “rich little white girl talking about white guilt” comments which, to be honest, is a pretty inaccurate sentence all around. I’m more transparent than white and if I were rich, I would not have spent a large portion of this summer trying to figure out ways to avoid taking out more student loans. I’m also pretty pear shaped, body-wise, which doesn’t really qualify as little.

Pear-Shaped Body

3rd from the left.

Ultimately, everything comes down to this: wanting to be liked, by your classmates, teachers, parents, friends, Ryan Gosling, is a natural feeling, but if you really love yourself the way that I hope you all do, stay away from the comments. You want to look. You want to see whether or not anyone appreciated that Jeopardy! joke that you slipped into the second paragraph or if that image you photoshopped of a cat on a cactus received any “LOL”s but more often than not, opening the comments section is like jumping into a pit of fire and crocodiles spitting poisonous spiders. It’s dangerous, emotionally and physically. One negative comments can bring the rest of your day down, even if it’s not a particularly true one.

Someone is WRONGI see you, critic. Your hands are hovering over the keyboard. “If you’re getting so many bad comments, maybe they have a point,” you want to say. Back away from the computer. I’ve realized that, and have come up with a magic rule to counteract your suggestion. When you’re churning out a series of potentially controversial articles (aka, any one that provides an opinion), tell yourself you will look in the comments section of two of them. You’ll see angry emoticons and spiteful paragraphs about how awful you are as a human being, that’s a promise. But you may also see a pattern in the comments, something like “Everything this person writes is offensive to so-and-so” or “This person really has to reference cats in every post, huh?” and if so, you may be able to take something positive out of it. After this point, swear off the comments section for good because the truth of the matter is, not everyone is going to like what you write. Not everyone is going to like who you are. Mark Twain was a good writer. During his time, he said a number of hilarious and insightful things. And yet, here’s a blog post by someone hating on him. Someone out there is programmed to hate you. Don’t take it personally.

Truth is, if I thought anyone was going to listen to this advice, I wouldn’t have included so many “please”s but everyone will fall into the comment section’s gravitational curiosity pull. Sometimes, I still do. You’re all just reckless kids and I’m that overprotective parent that doesn’t want you to make mistakes and get hurt but hey, maybe you need that to learn. Still, I would hope I could save you the trouble.

Here are some resources to prevent you from reading the comments if that whole spiel wasn’t convincing enough:

“People On the Internet Are Sometimes Mean” Blog Post

Twitter account to remind you to not read the comments

Ars Technica post about the negative effects of comments on your self-perception

These bracelets

Does anyone have an opinion on the comments section? I promise I’ll read them. (I’m under the assumption that anyone reading these blog posts likes me enough to have come here in the first place and will therefore not hurt my feelings. Feel free to not prove me wrong.)

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2013 3:11 pm

    I just found that Twitter account that tells you not to read the comments, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever, I’ve found that even if I’m not writing the piece that gets hated all over, I feel disgusting even reading horrible comments that weren’t directed at me. No one needs that much negativity in their life. This is what brings on constipation and hives (often at the same time).

    Great post.

    • August 28, 2013 3:26 pm

      Also, no one needs as many commas as I put in that first sentence.

    • Tyler Vendetti permalink*
      August 28, 2013 5:52 pm

      It’s my favorite Twitter account, next to @isitChristmas. And yes!! Reading the comments on bad YouTube videos is actually almost painful. People are just relentless. I don’t understand it. I’ve heard negativity can also cause a sudden obsession with lifetime movies, pajamas, chocolate ice cream, and crying. Basically, the symptoms of a bad break up.

      And don’t worry about the commas. I use them every time I find myself pausing in a sentence, which half of the time doesn’t even make logical sense. You’re not alone.

  2. August 28, 2013 10:46 pm

    I read about your anuptaphobia and… *hug*. You WILL find somebody. You’re smart, cute and funny. What’s not to like? Besides, you don’t need that. A 25 years study made in germany, has shown that happiest people are the ones who “prioritize family, friends, altruistic goals, and exercise” and that they “are happier than those just chasing money and success.”. So, no. If you dedicate your life caring about other people, you won’t need a couple. Besides, if you do that, it’s a good way to know kind people ;D XD
    About your topic: “The dogs bark but the caravan moves on”. You must continue with what you think it’s right. Do you want to read your comments? Go ahead. If you want to be successful, you HAVE to learn to take criticism. The thing is… I think you watch your comments expecting them to reasure you in your writer position. That you’re smart and good at writing (which you are, by the way). That people enjoy an appreciate what you do (and appreciate you, because we all just want to know that we matter). But a lot of people comply with the “Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory”. Take the comments with a pinch of salt. Just as a “gauge” of the status of your publication and not as something personal. As you know by now, you can’t make everybody happy. If you hit a trunk with a stick, snakes may come out D=. So, be prepared.
    Ok, enough rambling. Best of luck! 😉

    • Tyler Vendetti permalink*
      September 1, 2013 12:37 pm

      Haha I’ve never heard that truck theory before but I’ll certainly keep it in mind. Thank you!

  3. aysquaredd permalink
    August 31, 2013 11:25 am

    I love reading all your stuff on Hellogiggles, and I will definitely be reading your blog. I love the way you write! There will always be someone that has something negative to say. Thanks for putting up with it and sharing your posts with us despite the negativity. You are awesome!

    • Tyler Vendetti permalink*
      September 1, 2013 12:35 pm

      Thank you! I try to battle the negativity of the Internet whenever I can. 🙂

  4. almiller66 permalink
    September 7, 2013 6:56 am

    You have a crafty, distinct voice. It reminds me a bit of Sylvia Plath–only with a lot more sunshine. Just a thought, but perhaps “stepping into deeper, more controversial waters” isn’t necessary. Indeed your tone is lighthearted and fun. However, your introspection (AKA Sylvia) does inject depth into your pieces, and cultivates a “seriousness” that makes the subject secondary anyway. So while I’d love to see what you have to say about Syria (talk about blanket forts), or the NSA, or Miley Cyrus–the fact that you have found a way to be so engaging without relying upon more naturally gravitational subjects is a testament to your skill and your voice. Not enough folks write about what it’s like to be locked inside their own head. It’s quite refreshing to read, and I applaud your courage. Cheers.

    • September 22, 2013 10:22 am

      That was very insightful almiller66! I like the way she writes too, all of it. 🙂

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