If you are online daring to suggest that fat people deserve to be treated with basic human respect, at some point you will likely end up with a hater. Hate takes lots of forms from “well meaning” to abusive. I’ve discussed dealing with “well intentioned” haters before, today I want to talk about the abusive kind of haters.
I’ll give you some techniques that I use to deal with this but my primary advice is to remind yourself that the problem is with these people and not with you. I figured this out the hard way – there was a day when I was the victim of a coordinated hate attack, In 48 hours I received over 5,000 comments almost all of which called me some horrible name and suggested that I kill myself.
Using the techniques I will share below, I managed to keep any of it from appearing in public and I didn’t mention it in public for months so that after 2 days, 30,000 hits and over 5,000 comments these people had nothing to show for their work. But something even cooler happened – it became crystal clear to me that these people were seriously messed up and that it had nothing to do with me. I don’t wish this experience on you, but feel free to share the conclusions.
In the meantime, here are some ways to deal with haters (as always, your mileage may vary and these are only suggestions – I support you in dealing with haters any way you want.)
1. Moderate, Moderate,
When I started out, I felt like I should post every comment that wasn’t just overt spam. I believed that it was somehow cowardly to not post hater comments. I have since changed my mind – I work hard to put out good information on this blog and develop a readership and I don’t have to hand that forum over to a hater to prove anything. People are allowed to behave like idiots but I’m under no obligation to give them a place to do so. I also realized that it was truly upsetting to readers who were just dipping their toe in the size acceptance pool to read the kind of hate that I get. I moderate everything – my blog, my youtube videos, my facebook, everything. Remember that when you have a blog, youtube channel, facebook page etc. it is a world that you created and you are the underpants overlord boss of everything, you can make decisions accordingly.
I read just enough to figure out that something is hatemail and then delete it. The fact that someone has managed to submit a comment correctly does not obligate me to read it, especially since so many of them just don’t make any kind of effort toward creativity.
3. Don’t bring logic to a hate fight
I used to think that I could reason with these people or that the fact that I could back up my claims with evidence and my haters could not would be important to the debate. Turns out that I am not the jackass whisperer. I choose in my work to focus less on whether other people believe that fat people deserve to be treated with respect, and more on whether fat people believe that they deserve to be treated with respect. That means that engaging haters is not the best use of my time.
4. Decide on the day
Maybe you’re having a day when the hatiest of hate mail doesn’t bother you and you decide that you want to spar with the haters. That’s fine. Maybe you’ve just had it and you don’t even want to check your comments – that’s ok to. This is hard work and taking care of the person doing that work (that would be you!) is important.
5. Have a little fun
My blog gives me the ability to edit comments, and choose who can post freely and who gets moderated. Sometimes people who send me tons of hatemail will try to sneak through something that sounds positive. I always approve it but then send them into permanent moderation so they can’t follow up as they would like and it ends up looking like they love my blog. Juvenile? You betcha and I don’t care.
6. More’s the Pity
It can help to remember that these people are just kind of pitiful – they spend their days on the internet, seeking out people with whom they disagree so that they can be unbelievably rude to them. It hardly ever happens anymore but if hatemail even starts to bother me a little bit I just remember to thank all the gods that I’m not in whatever situation has lead these people to this behavior.
7. Monetize it.
When I saw mommy blogger Dooce’s page to monetize her hate I knew that I was looking at brilliance. Now I have a page of my own. It’s off the blog so that people who don’t want to be triggered never come into contact with it accidentally, and it’s cathartic to me to answer the hatemail. I’ve just updated it with new hatemail, you can check it out at www.danceswithfat.com/hate [Trigger Warning: it’s hatemail y’all]
8. Report it
Some bloggers publish e-mail addresses and other personal information from their haters. I know at least three bloggers who track IPs of hate mail that they get during work hours that come from businesses, then inform the people in charge that someone from their company is spending their work time sending hateful, cruel, and threatening e-mails. Consider other methods of reporting, especially if it gets way out of control with threats of violence etc.
Whatever you do, I highly recommend a modification of one of my favorite mantras (modified any way you like): my haters are fucked up and i am fine.
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