Recently I delved, for only the second time ever, into the wonderful world of being a YouTube contributor, and with that comes a certain necessity for thick skin. We all know that the anonymity of the Internet turns ordinary folk into assholes, and assholes into ultra assholes, but the comment section of your average YouTube video puts even some of the worst people to shame. There is something about watching a video crafted by a complete stranger that turns people into hissing monsters whose only joy comes from desperately attempting to use every weapon in their online arsenal to make the video uploader cry. We live in a weird world.
I entered into this world willingly because I’ve grown a thick “Internet-Asshole-Shield” skin over the past few years because – and make no mistake about this – they’re not just lurking on YouTube. They’re everywhere, just waiting to pounce. So today I’m going to share what I’ve come to know about traversing this tricky online minefield of ours.
First and foremost, know and accept that people on the Internet are going to be insufferable jerks. There’s no sense in denying it, just like there’s no way to avoid it, and if you’re going to put yourself out there for millions of people to potentially jedge, it’s best to just accept jerks as an inevitability right now. You might be one of the lucky ones – you might be the rare person who recieves only praise from the online masses – but it’s best not to expect such a gift. It’s much better to prepare for the storm that never comes than to get torn apart by an unexpected tsunami.
Once you’ve accepted the fact that people on the Internet are very likely to be jerks to you, the next step is to shore yourself up for the kinds of insults you’re likely to recieve. For instance, in my videos I’m sitting in front of shelves full of books, toys, and collectibles. It is highly likely that at some point someone is going to spy something on my shelves that they don’t like and take it upon themselves to insult me for it. People can get strangely (and viciously) irate when other people enjoy things that they think are stupid, so I’m already prepared for idiotic attacks on my person because of the things that I happen to enjoy. Can’t think of any reaons in particular why someone would attack you with insults? Expect insults to be thrown at your physical appearance or intelligence, because without an obvious source, people will revert to the basics of human ego. You could be the most gorgeous woman on the planet, and some jackass will take time out of his day to call you a fat cow. You could be talking about the delicate intricacies of quantum physics, and some dingbat will call you an uneducated loudmouth. People will find something to shoot at you, even if it’s the absolute furthest thing from the truth. Expecting as much ahead of time will help you deal with it when it happens.
So now that you’ve accepted that an attack is likely to happen and you’ve mentally prepared yourself for such an attack, what should you do once said attack actually comes? The answer may surprise you: nothing. Do nothing. Do not engage. Engaging people who want nothing other than to hurt you or make you angry never helps…in fact, it’s exactly what they want. These people want you to fight back because by doing so you’ve let them know that they’ve struck a nerve. Even if your response is to tell them that you couldn’t care less what they think, the fact that you responded at all proves to them that they’ve bothered you. And once they know that they’ve bothered you, they’re just going to keep on firing shots. That’s how they get their kicks.
It seems terribly counterintuitive because it’s in our nature to defend ourselves, but I promise you that the absolute best way to deal with Internet trolls is to completely ignore them. Even if their words make you want to punch a wall, or scream and rant, or curl up into a ball and cry…ignore them. Do not give them the satisfaction of knowing that they accomplished exactly what they set out to do. Do not give them a reason to put futher time and energy into tormenting you. Do. Not. Engage. As the owner of the YouTube channel (or blog, or whatever else we’re talking about) you have every right to delete cruel or obscene comments, or block abusive users from your content, but do not talk back to these people. It’s a pointless waste of your time and only serves to allow assholes to justify their own existence.
But most of all, above everything else, my final tip is to not let people get to you. Sometimes people are cruel just for the sake of being cruel, and you have to remmber that their agressive, abusive behavior often has nothing to do with you. It’s all about them and their ridiculous need to hold some kind of imagined power over others. Don’t let them have that power. Realize that, in the end, the opinions of other people (especially complete strangers) mean absolutely nothing. Remember that one thing, and suddenly life on the Internet will be a hell of a lot simpler.