By Justina Sharp, 18
You know what’s great about the internet? You can do what you want, say what you’re thinking and be who you are.
You know what’s not so great about the internet? ANYONE can do what they want, say what they’re thinking and be who they are. Sometimes, what they are is not so nice.
As an online creator, I put my work out for the world to judge every day. Every day, as with anything else, there are people who don’t like it. Then sometimes, their emotion is closer to “absolute hatred” than anything else, and that’s when they start blaming stuff on Obama. Or me. Or my generation. Or the Kardashians. This time, it was all of the above.
When I wrote about Kylie Jenner’s place on TIME's 30 Most Influential Teens of 2015 list, I had no idea that A.) it was going to get this kind of attention and B.) a week later, I’d be inclined to make a video outlining my five steps for dealing with jerks on the internet.
1. Laugh it off.
The things people will say about you based off of the headline of an article they didn’t read, or a selfie that is the wrong angle for them, or a YouTube video they didn’t like the background music for, borders on absurd. You can’t always tell them how funny it is, but you can laugh anyway.
2. Tell them to their handle.
People who say mean stuff about you when you’re a “public figure” never really expect you to read it. They especially don’t expect you to call them on it. To them, you aren’t a real person. You’re a name in a byline, an Instagram handle, a Tumblr URL. You can’t change their views, and you don’t have to -- but you can show them that you’re real.
3. Ignore them.
Criticism and feedback are important -- they can help you get better at whatever you do. But when the 100th “You’re rubbish at what you love” tweet lights up your lock screen, turn off the notifications. You don’t need that in your life.
4. Call a friend.
Your friends are your friends for a reason. When it’s a situation like this, ask for help/thoughts/advice/backup. They might see something that you don’t, and that’s always good.
5. KEEP DOING YOUR THING.
In the words of the famous philosopher/songwriter Taylor Swift, haters gonna hate, hate, hate. They especially hate when you continue to do what you love. That’s their problem though, not yours.
Not everyone is going to see screen-to-screen with you, and when they can safely and relatively anonymously do it, they’ll express that in a myriad of ways, including general jerkiness. But you don’t need to log off your life.