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The Twitter Trolls: How to Deal with Criticism Online

It’s impossible to be liked by everyone. No matter what you say or do online you risk the potential of offending someone (or even just rubbing them the wrong way). But for a musician, writer, photographer or anyone in the creative arts it can get even worse. Your soul, your art, is on display… available for anyone to rip it to shreds.

Enter the world of The HatersThe Trolls. The Vociferous Nerds hiding in their parent’s basement behind a bag of half-eaten cheese doodles, whose job is to make everyone they encounter online feel worthless.

The Twitter Troll has taken things to a whole new level. With the speed of delivering a text message, your ego and self worth can be crushed by a simple tweet sent from someone completely unknown to you… and delivered publicly for the whole world to see.

Receiving negative feedback is hard. But if it’s honest feedback, most people can hold their head high and accept it for what it is; an opinion and potentially a suggestion for improvement. But if the tweet you receive happens to be from a gutless troll who does it for sport, your temper will flare quicker than they can lick the cheese dust from their chubby little fingers.

Your first reaction will be to fire off a quick (and probably juvenile) response, delivered in a crude tone similar to that of the troll’s. But you must resist. You must take the higher ground my young tweeter. You must take a moment and breathe deep… and remember these wise words: Think twice. Tweet once.

If their criticism has any value whatsoever (such as, “Your vocals are way too quiet in that song and makes it suck”), then you should respond to it. But… respond to it, not argue or fight about it. 

For example I might respond with, “Hey man, thanks for your tweet. It’s tough deciding on that type of thing. I’ll keep your comment in mind during my next recording though.

Even for a hater, that type of response makes it pretty damn hard to deliver a venomous reply. Problem solved. 

But if the tweet you receive is clearly from a troll (such as, “Dude, you suck. I hate your voice and the noise that comes out of your head sounds like a wet donut fart.”), all I can say to you is… Do Not Engage. Walk away. 

As tempting as it is to fight fire with fire, there is nothing to be gained. Ignore them. Even if the troll comes back for a second attempt, your refusal to engage will completely take the wind out of their sales and they’ll quickly move on to acquire a new (and easier) target.

Engaging in a war of words online is dangerous, especially on Twitter where your response can be instantly viewed by thousands. A childish reply can irreparably damage your career. You can lose the respect of both fans and the industry. You can come off as being childish and immature. You can come off as being someone who I don’t want to support or do business with. There is nothing to be gained.

Don’t Engage the Trolls. 

 Think Twice. Tweet Once.

—Brian Thompson

Visit Brian online at Thorny Bleeder and The DIY Daily.


Reader Comments (6)

Yeah, good point, you could apply that to any communication or discussion you have with others.

I was once told you're stronger if you can let it go, not easy but I think you probably get a knack of it after awhile.. Or was it Blake that said "the eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn from the crow", Just look at it as that is the reality certain trolls choose to dwell, leave it at that.


February 29 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Rapper "Ice T" (he's on twitter) can make use of this advice lol he gets so easily offended and responds to his "haters" like a 5 year old instead of a 50 year old.

February 29 | Unregistered Commenterthetruth

i've seen some artists RT vicious comments which does two things: 1) lets more level-headed fans see what the artist has to deal with, and 2) embarrasses the original troll, since he's been exposed to all of the artist's fans. not good for every occasion, but once in a while can be effective.

February 29 | Unregistered CommenterBK

Here's some friendly criticism: you typed "sales" where you should have included "sails". Good advice, though.

March 2 | Unregistered CommenterA reader

Some good advice for Chris Brown

March 5 | Unregistered CommenterDS

I know of a particular Twitter user who deliberately RTs all the abusive and troll messages he gets so as to shame the trolls (yes, he gives out the name of the troll as well). Otherwise, the 'Unfollow' / 'Block' button is always there.

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterPixie

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