Mental Health Awareness Week: How to stay strong in the face of negative comments
Stay sane on social media
Fenny Nadorp is an entertainment and creative industry life coach with more than a decade of experience. She has been trained by neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) legend Tony Robbins, Chloé Madanes, Magali and Mark Peysha. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, she has teamed up with Mixmag for a series of topic discussions that artists, industry members and fans alike face to create and encourage a safe environment to openly discuss mental health issues.
There will always be people with opinions that don't match yours, especially so as an artist.
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion and expectation, to what extent should you allow yourself to be influenced by this?
Unsurprisingly, our brains tend to be more attuned to negative news. You know how that one insult that was thrown at you tends to haunt you, still, late at night? Or how that time when we felt embarrassed once, years ago, still feels so clear in our minds? It's human instinct to allow the feeling of doing something wrong or making a mistake to outweigh the positive.
Our brains are simply built to have a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news, but for good reason. It's a natural instinct designed to keep us from dangerous situations. From the early days of human history, our survival depended on our ability to dodge danger, and the brain developed a system to notice signs of potential danger and hopefully respond and avoid dangerous situations.
Which is all well and good, until applied to modern day situations. This built-in system means we're super sensitive to negativity, though negative Instagram comments certainly don't put us in any imminent danger today. So why do we continue to focus on the negative?
The system of interaction online is super addictive. Seeing likes and reading comments can make us feel really good, but if a negative comment slips in, we can easily tumble into feeling insecure or feeding the inner critic. Subconsciously, we often seek confirmation that we're doing well because we feel uncertain about ourselves or our situations.
Posting on social media gives people a chance to interact with you, which can be positive or negative. Think about it this way:
Out of 100 people, 50 will love your post, and rave about it.
35 might like it, and move on.
10 could post a negative comment and move on.
5 might actively hate it.
Which does your brain automatically focus on? Which should you focus on?
As an artist, social media is often seen as a necessary evil to stay in touch with your community, fans and convey information about upcoming releases or shows. However, social media is also plagued by a growing culture of cyberbullying and anonymous commenters who are unafraid to express their negative opinions about people and artists.
"Social media has affected my mental health to a massive extent," agrees Birmingham producer Hannah Wants. "It’s the most frustrating thing when strangers maliciously attack you on social media platforms about subjects they think they know as fact. They don't seem to realise is the effect spouting hate and negativity can have on a persons health, both mental and physical. It’s taken me literally years of practise, reading and self-talk to come to terms with that fact that you can’t rise to it."
People react negatively online for a variety of reasons. Some want to help, offering their opinion without an invitation. Others are insecure or jealous, and find solace in pointing out to others that they are not perfect to make themselves feel better. Some still are simply commenting out of malice, trying to make the target in question feel worse.
Before posting or reacting to a comment, THINK:
T: Is it true?
H: Is it helpful?
I: Is it inspiring?
N: Is it necessary?
K: Is it kind?
While it might feel difficult when faced with a negative comment, it's important to breathe, THINK and try to focus on the positive. Resist responding to comments without using the THINK strategy, otherwise your emotions or ego will take over and likely end up backfiring. Avoid blaming or even starting a discussion with the commenter, as it usually only feeds the negative troll in the first place. It isn't mandatory to ignore the comments completely, but be aware of your reaction and response.
Rising star HAAi noticed the levels of hate she started receiving online surged in congruency with her increasing success. After playing a set for Boiler Room in 2017, her direct messages became inundated with negative messages. “There was someone totally ripping on my Boiler Room set,” she says. “It wasn’t anything constructive and there wasn’t any weight behind what he was saying. In its purest sense, it was just someone trying to make you feel shit.”
It serves as a good reminder to remember that you can respectfully agree to disagree. You might have different values in life than the negative commenter, and that's okay. It's important to remember not to take negative comments personally, despite their often personal approach. Do they really know you, or know what they are talking about? More than likely, it's just someone trying to provoke a response, which says more about the person posting it than it does about you. Taking the high road can often feel difficult, but most times, it's the easiest way to stay true to yourself.
Remind yourself what you believe in, and that as long as you're content with your choices, other pressures and opinions don't matter. The reality is, you can't make everyone love you or agree with you. It's simply a matter of taste, in the same way that a truffle's flavor is loved by some, hated by others, and indifferent yet to even more people.
It is unacceptable to intentionally hurt or bully someone, but unfortunately there are those who seek out this behavior online. What you can control is how you react, and what you radiate in response.
Finally, it's important to keep an open mind and remember that there are many positives to be taken away from certain comments. Some can make you laugh, make you feel loved or even teach you something new. Comments are a useful tool to connect with new and old fans, friends and establish a strong community when used in the right way.
Want to learn more about dealing with negative comments or have another challenge you're facing? Please reach out below.
Fenny Nadorp is an entertainment and creative industry life coach, trainer and speaker based in The Netherlands. Find her on Instagram here and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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