Media Training Worldwide

Can Internet video viewers be nasty?

BY TJ Walker

Yes!!! And that’s an understatement. It is an unpleasant fact of life that the anonymity of the Internet gives people much greater license to be mean and nasty. If you are producing simple, talking head videos and posting them on YouTube and other websites, you can expect vile comments posted below your videos.

Personally, I receive comments like this:

“TJ, you are a bald, fat, ignorant, socialist, communist, fascist, know-nothing—and you are a homosexual pedophile!” And that is one of the milder criticisms.

My recommendation is to ignore criticism when it is simply mean-spirited. Oprah has her critics too; do you think she almost quit 20 years ago just because not everyone loved her? Of course not.

Here is how I handle criticism to Internet videos. 1. If the criticism is valid meaning it’s not just based on ad hominem attack, I respond with a rational answer and thank the writer for watching and writing. 2. If the critic posted something that is obviously silly, trivial, mean-spirited and not based on anything rational, I will leave the comment posted and I don’t comment. I don’t want to seem like a censor and I think that the hate comments speak for themselves and don’t reflect poorly on me. 3. Occasionally, I will respond to the nasty critics by mocking them and hoisting them on their own petard. I don’t do this because I think I am going to change their minds. Instead, I think it is interesting for other web visitors to see a bully put in his (and it does seem to usually be a “he”) place. For some reason all haters who write nasty things in response to Internet videos seem to have two things in common: 1. They don’t know the difference between “you’re” and “your,” and 2. They are obsessed with proclaiming anyone who disagrees with them to be a homosexual.

I think the attitude to have with nasty people is that of a wise parent toward an unruly 5 year old child. Have fun with it and purposely look down upon them with condescension—it drives them mad!

The really important lesson here is to not let critics drive you away. I listen to all of my critics. Sometimes they tell me my stuff is crap and they have a point. I listen to all criticism, but I don’t necessarily buy into all of it.

I urge you to develop a thick skin to criticism. It’s important to learn how and when to disregard it.

An important note to women: While I find that internet viewers can be nasty to everyone, men and women alike, I do find that critics can be even nastier, more threatening and viler toward women. If you are a woman and you are doing a simple talking head video on YouTube, you need to be prepared to be called a whore, a slut, a bitch and every other nasty name you can think of. I really wish this weren’t the case, but it is so you might as well be prepared for it.

Man or woman, if you have any videos that comment on anything remotely political, be prepared for viciousness that goes right up to death threats. Again, I wish it weren’t true, but it is, so you have been warned.

The bottom line is that good criticism will make you and be better and bad criticism only makes nasty people look foolish so they can’t hurt us. Ultimately, the worst criticism of all is being ignored. Be happy people are watching you, even if they can be nasty.

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