How to Deal with Meanie Heads

The internet can be a very mean place. It's nice enough when you're with friends, but if you go to a neighborhood where nobody knows you, and then you disagree with someone there, you're liable to get your head chewed off.*

I'll be the first to admit I don't deal with stuff like this very well. When someone attacks me personally, I get upset. I get stressed out. I feel like I have to, have to set them straight if I'm going to sleep that night.

You know what? It never works.

But there's hope. I'm going to fawn all over Nathan Bransford for a moment, so feel free to skip to the end. As an agent, Nathan deals with angry people - unpublished authors who insist he listen to their pitch, or who get angry at rejection and demand an explanation. He also has a significant internet presence, which means anonymous naysayers left and right.

Yet not once have I seen Nathan whine, complain, grouse, or (let me find my thesaurus here...) cavil. When he responds, he does so with grace and humor. It's amazing, and he's become sort of my role model for Being a Nice Person.

So recently, when I was faced once again with a personal attack online, I was moved to find Nathan's post on dealing with negativity. I condensed it into rules, because I like rules.

When faced with someone who attacks you or puts you down:
  1. Don't complain.
  2. Try try try to care as little as possible.
  3. Don't respond.
  4. If you MUST respond, do so with a clear head, with sincere humor and humility. (If you can't be genuinely funny or humble, see Rule 3).
And lastly: Negativity is a test of strength. If you complain or fight back (even subtly): you lose. If you show strength of character: you win.

* Don't believe me? Try visiting a message board devoted to science, religion, Democrats, Republicans, or query letters. Depending on where you go, tell them "Jesus doesn't believe in dinosaurs," "Jesus is a homo," "Obama doesn't believe in dinosaurs," or "Obama is Jesus," and see what happens.

At the query letters' site, just submit a query letter.


Natalie Whipple said...

Great reminder, Adam! The negativity can be so hard. Oppressive, really. But don't worry, just hang out with the cool, nice people:) Like me:P

BJW said...

You're pretty cool in my book. And not just because you live in Chiang Mai. But for the record, Jesus does not believe in Obama's family pet dinosaur. At all. I think.

Oh and Natalie is VERY cool but a ninja pot stirrer. Beware...

Adam Heine said...

"Natalie is... a ninja pot stirrer."

So I've heard ;-)

Gwen Stewart said...

So, so, so true Adam. I got viciously attacked on my blog once...for kindly stating my mind on current events (on MY blog, mind you). I foolishly thought we had freedom of speech in this country, but I guess only if we all speak the same thing! Anyway, I was called every name in the book. Horrible.

But we're not alone. Something about the impersonal nature of the internet makes people go on the offensive. Thank goodness, there are wonderfully kind people too, like Nathan, and you. :)

have a great day!

Natalie Whipple said...

WHAT? Where has this vicious rumor started? I shall exact vengeance with my twin swords...

Adam Heine said...

*Backs up. Points quietly at Ben mouthing, "It was him."*

Natalie Whipple said...

I should have known.

*Disappears into the darkness. Waits for perfect moment to strike.*

Adam Heine said...

Gwen, I'm sorry to hear that happened to you. Freedom of speech is a funny thing, cuz it goes both ways. Both you and the Meany Head were (I assume) within your rights to say whatever it is you said.

But just because we have the right to offend each other, doesn't mean we should. People are still people.

Hilabeans said...

OK - I seriously LOVE the disclaimer. So funny.

Great rules, by the way. I tend to reside at #3. ;)


Helen Ginger said...

Good rules. And I mean that two ways. You set good rules and being good rules.

Good post.

Straight From Hel