You know how horrible of a person you are to go out of your way, your miserable, lonely way, and try to make a public effort to destroy the magic other people have in their lives? Everyone experiences everything differently. Let me ask, do you go down the street day to day… spitting in random strangers faces as well, just because they are smiling? Simply because you do not understand their inner joy? You talk about eastern cultures but from your rhetoric, and the rhetoric of those you agree with… says you have a lot of spiritual development ahead of you still to seek. I regret finding this article and I desire to express the fact that I don’t like you at all.
Wow. That may be one of the worst reviews I’ve ever received. Ironically, it came from my single most popular and beloved blog post, 10 Reasons The Legend of Korra Sucked More Than I Want To Admit. But whatever is popular will have naysayers.
Every artist will get a bad review, comment, or critique–thousands, if they stick with it. That’s just life. So if you want to be an artist of any sort (film, books, dance, cooking, landscaping, whatever), how do you deal with criticism?
You ask yourself a series of questions. I’ll use this disgruntled reviewer as an example because, as he has proven, if you put something on the internet, someone will disagree with it. I’ll call him KC for Korra Commenter.
1. Is It Unique?
Is this one hater among the crowd or is it the voice of the masses? Even Harry Potter gets 1-star reviews, but they’re the minority. If everybody hates your work, maybe it’s time to reconsider. But if the good outweighs the bad, then you can breathe easier.
In my case, many people liked my Korra post, and even thanked me for speaking out against what we think is ill-placed adoration. So even though it’s gained scorn, I’ll still count that post as a win.
2. Do They Know What They’re Talking About?
Does the girl who hates classical music listen to anything but Top 10 charts? Does the film critic think Transformers 4 was a masterpiece? Does the guy who refused a slice of your famous cake have diabetes? Always consider your audience.
On the internet, this is harder. You can’t know every commenter and I don’t know if KC has a proper grasp of good TV or not, so I can’t consider that here. But when my own dad didn’t much care for the novel I wrote, it didn’t bother me because he doesn’t like fiction of any sort. And that’s okay.
3. Do They Know Me?
According to KC, I am a horrible, lonely person on a mission to destroy the happiness of others because I can’t see their inner joy. And I might spit in the face of random strangers because they are smiling.
And he got all this amazing insight from…one blog post.
The Bible says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted…” (Proverbs 27:6a, emphasis mine) Friends know your heart and they care about you, so when they seem to attack, you can trust that it’s for your own benefit.
Strangers, on the other hand, know nothing about you. Angry reviewers will often assume they know your personality and deep-seated intentions from a single piece of work, and they’ll call you horrible names and perhaps even tell others how “horrible” you are. While it’s true that we artists put pieces of our hearts into our work, no reviewer can know everything from one piece.
4. What SPECIFICALLY Did They Say About My Work?
This is the one thing you should glean from any review, good or bad, because it can help you do better in the future. Of course, “This sucks” isn’t very helpful and you can more or less ignore it.
What specifically gave them trouble and why? Was it full of cliches? Cheap techniques? Was your art boring? Hypocritical? Was it just not their style? Details help you consider the validity of a bad review and you can use that to improve if need be.
So what was it KC didn’t like? My opinion. He was upset because I didn’t like The Legend of Korra. He wrote on the basis that if someone else likes it, you can’t say anything bad about it, which simply isn’t true. I have the right to an opinion and to free speech. That’s a critique I can shrug off.
5. Did They Understand It/Me?
Despite what KC said, I do not wish to destroy the magic in others’s lives, nor do I spit on people who smile. My intent with my blog post was pure artistic critique. Yes, I added my personal flavors and passions, but every artist does–that’s what makes you unique. I didn’t say I disliked Korra because I wanted to crush dreams. I said it because it’s what I believe, and I found it to be a unique perspective on the internet.
If a critic missed the point, of course they’ll hate it (or like it for the wrong reasons), so you can toss that comment.
HOWEVER! If many people don’t understand your work, then you should probably reconsider your style. Don’t be that artist who sticks his nose in the air and brags about how far he is above the intellectual muck. Maybe he’s just obtuse.
6. How Many Personal Insults Are There?
Here’s a general rule of thumb: the more personal attacks a reviewer dumps on you, the less credibility they have. KC hardly even referenced my blog post, but preferred to attack me personally.
People who have nothing to say tend to say a lot. And “Fools give full vent to their rage…” (Prov 29:11a). Someone who is doing nothing but calling you names clearly wants nothing more than to blow off steam in your face. They’re acting strictly from emotions with no regard to art or critique.
Professional criticism you should hear. Verbal diarrhea? Flush it.
7. Are They a Hater?
“Haters gonna hate” is one of the truest expressions to come out of…someplace. Some people can’t be pleased. Rapper Bizzle wrote a song called “No Hate” where he talked about how some people just look for an excuse to hate you. If you’re broke, they cut you down for being broke. If you’re rich, they call you greedy. “You see ’em drowning in the middle of the ocean, when you pull up they be hatin’ on your boat.”
Even Jesus had haters. He said of the Pharisees that when John the Baptist didn’t eat or drink wine, they said he was possessed. When Jesus ate and drank wine, they called him a gluttonous drunk (Matthew 11:18-19).
You can’t tell if a random commenter is a hater, but if someone constantly drags down your work and others? They may just think it’s stylish to bash what others love (apparently, I’m one of them). Those people you can always ignore.
8. Did They Go Too Far?
As much as we dislike bad reviewers, they have the right to their opinions and the public display therein. If you have a comment section, don’t be surprised if you get bad ones. Only children demand nothing but praise. That’s why I allow bad comments to stay on my blog. KC has the right to disagree with me.
However, you don’t have to take everything thrown at you. Racial slurs, credible threats, harassment, etc, these things are not okay. These are the times it may be best to delete/block those comments or even contact a site administrator. Heck, in extreme cases, it may even need to go higher than that.
Insults and cheap reviews should wash off your back, even harsh ones. But dehumanization? Personal danger? Don’t let those things onto your site or into your heart.
9. Are They Right?
While I love to critique, I don’t do it because I like tearing people down. I do it because I love art and want to dust off the dross and showcase the divine. So KC was quite wrong about me.
But long ago, another commenter pointed out how I had my facts wrong. I reviewed my source and found they were right, so I had to take down the entire blog post and publically apologize. Artists create from the heart. If an artist doesn’t have integrity, he’s creating out of something else.
10. How Will I Respond?
Remember Bizzle who wrote “No Hate”? That song is so titled because he said, “You can hate me, but you ain’t gettin’ no hate back…all the hatin’ in the world won’t make me a hater.” Even if you receive the worst possible review, you have a choice in how you respond.
Always respond with integrity and maturity. Remain professional when others aren’t. Sometimes this means ignoring them. Sometimes it means bowing your head and saying, “You’re right.” Sometimes it means challenging them. Sometimes, it means calling for help. Use wisdom to determine your response, not base emotion.
No matter how childish your bad review is, don’t become childish in response. You’re better than that. Aren’t you?
In my case, KC left me a scathing review of my character when he doesn’t know me and didn’t say one word about why my article was wrong or poorly written. He’s just mad because I went into great detail on why I don’t like something he does. However, he didn’t cross any legal or ethical lines and if I have the right not to like something, so does he.
So here is my response: the comment stays on the page and I can ignore it…unless, of course, I find it useful for writing a new blog that helps others deal with their own haters.