Hug your haters (but sometimes, you gotta handle your hecklers)

Image: Daniel Ebersole

When you put your work out there in public, you will run into haters. It’s just the way it goes. As elizabeth tobey so eloquently pointed out in this post, the internet is a breeding ground for sociopathic behavior.

Combine a virtual world where you are divorced from human interactions (voice, facial expressions, body language, the psychological effect of a crowd who is watching and listening to you) and have nearly total anonymity, and you’ll find yourself in a world that is a breeding ground of sociopathic behavior.
-Elizabeth Tobey

That said, most of the time, haters deserve nothing more than to be ignored. They’re pigs just waiting for you to get in the mud with them in your nice, clean clothes. If it’s a one-time hit from a clearly apparent obnoxious troll, block them (or not) and move on with your life. Your time is too valuable.

But then there are times when haters should be hugged (like Jay Baer wrote about in his book — which I can’t totally endorse because I haven’t read it yet, but his track record is such that I’m sure it’s awesome). Occasionally, haters have a good point. If they give you a well-thought out and articulated scathing that makes you see an opening that you want to close, it behooves you to address it, thank the hater, and use their thoughts to improve.

But then there’s the heckler.

The heckler is the super troll that shits in the pool and ruins the experience for everyone.

S/He is usually a repeat-offender. They write long, personal, anger-fueled, non-productive diatribes with the sole purpose of tearing you down. They pay no regard to the destruction they cause.

These lower life-forms deserve a public flogging. I’m no expert in this area, so I’ll take this chance to hand it over to the experts. To further study how to do this, look no further than the world of stand up comedy. Here’s a few to study right off the bat.


I hope you never have to take things this far. It’s ugly. And engaging a heckler at this level takes quite a commitment of mental fortitude, wit, and time. If you have to hop in the mud with one of these pigs, you must finish the job. You can’t just wrestle around with them a bit and hope they stop. You have to hit them with everything you’ve got.

I’m not sure if this is my style. So far, I’ve done fine not negotiating with terrorists. I’ve never been a big conflict guy. I’d rather block ’em and forget ’em.

But there you have it. A few different classifications of haters. Ignore ’em, hug ’em, or handle ’em. Pretty simple.

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