Anyone and everyone has the opportunity to build an online presence. It’s exciting to watch your numbers grow, to build a following and engage with new people. The dark side of this is the inevitable backlash that will occur.
When anyone is in the limelight and has a following of sorts, there will always be someone who has a judgment or criticism. And sometimes, those criticisms can happen in public – most often, over social media in front of hundreds of thousands sometimes millions of people.
Dealing with judgment, criticism, and the pain of getting our most tender parts poked at in life is hard.
One of the reasons many of us avoid showing up on social media is the fear of public shame and judgment. I reached out to Amanda Bucci, who in 2016 grew her YouTube channel to 100,000 subscribers within 6 months in the fitness space. In 2017, she shifted into the business coaching and social media strategy industry, where she went on to teach thousands of entrepreneurs how to start successful social media brands and businesses.
Through that time she went through many social media backlashes and shared her best 5 tips for surviving one.
5 Ways To Survive A Social Media Backlash | Stephanie Burns
Mike Watson Images Limited.
1. Validate Yourself
Social media gives us ample opportunity to receive external validation in the form of likes, comments, shares, saves, and DMs galore—hello, dopamine.
But when we attach our self-worth to whether or not people respond well to our content? We can go down a slippery slope of sadness, anxiety, and fear for those moments when people don’t like our content.
This is how we put our power (and energy) into the hands of strangers.
If you’re ever experiencing a social media backlash, it’s the perfect moment to actually sit and validate yourself. Utilize “reframing” by writing down the thoughts or beliefs that arise when you get feedback about your work, and then reframe them into more empowering beliefs.
Example: “When people criticize my work, it means I’m not good enough and need to change.” Reframe: “When people criticize my work, it gives me the opportunity to check in with myself. Other people never see the full picture, and those people aren’t my people.”
2. Respond With An Empowering Strategy
Whenever we deal with social media backlash, it’s our job to then figure out what to do with the comments.
- Do we leave them there for everyone to see?
- Do we respond to them?
- Do we delete them?
There’s not one right answer here, but knowing ahead of time what you will and won’t tolerate on your page and your account is your right and responsibility.
Block/Delete: typically reserved for extremely hateful or “out there” comments from people that don’t seem open to a healthy dialogue.
Responding publicly: When you feel like you can learn from that person’s perspective or that they may be open to healthy dialogue, feel free to respond with discernment.
Not responding, but leaving: Leaving things there without responding is a way to say that you don’t feel as though this is hateful enough to not be there, but maybe you simply don’t have anything to add back.
These boundaries are truly up to you to decide. Indulging in these back and forths with people may take up a lot of your time and energy, and unless you’re using it for a growth opportunity: it may be time to set healthy boundaries.
3. Find Compassion For The “Criticizer”
Typically, the comments that hurt us the most are the ones that feel like the most tender, open wounds in our hearts. And I know you’re wondering: how can I respond with compassion, when all I want to do is defend myself?
The thing is: everyone is living with their own perceptual filter on.
A perceptual filter is the lens through which we see the world through, all based on our past experiences and upbringing. Based on our life, we’ve all drawn conclusions about the world that we’ve decided to believe in.
Every single human lives with a different perceptual filter. Differences in opinion, beliefs, and therefore—actions. As difficult as it may be: we must remember that almost every time someone criticizes, it’s about THEM—not about you.
Whatever you posted activated something within them that touched on something that hurts. If you post something about having a french bulldog, and someone gets upset at you for not adopting—-it’s likely true that they currently have a rescue pet themselves, or have seen or heard of animals getting treated poorly with breeders that it’s personal for them.
The thing is: every human is going through something behind the screen, and the reasons we get upset are all quite different. When we can look at the criticism or hateful comment with objectivity and see it for what it is—we can activate the love and compassion inside of us that can say, “I appreciate your perspective, thank you for sharing.” This practice isn’t for them—it’s for you. When something like this happens, this is the one tool that you’ll always come back to in learning how to let it go.
The most inspiring example of this is the model, Rain Dove Dubilewski, a gender non-conforming model. Rain Dove responds to their critics with compassion and understanding.
When you use this reframe, it’s like taking your power back.
4. Build Your Emotional Regulation Toolbox.
Social Media Backlashes can be extremely activating for our stress and emotional systems, especially if the comments or responses touch on parts of us that are still difficult to read.
There are many different emotional regulation tools we can use to help manage our nervous systems, calm ourselves down, and minimize thought patterns that don’t serve us. We can meditate, do breath work, affirmations, boundaries or journaling.
Being able to put your spiraling and swirling thoughts onto paper and out of your head can help in ridding yourself of the patterns that don’t actually support you.
Some journaling prompts you can use:
- What am I feeling?
- If this feeling had a voice, what would it say?
- What are the limiting beliefs keeping this feeling alive?
- What is the truth about the situation, and how would my most empowered self move forward?
5. Review The Lessons
There’s always a lesson inside of every moment like this. If this opportunity ever shows up in your life, ask yourself: what is this person/experience here to teach me?
Perhaps you’ll learn that you can never understand every single human, but you can most certainly try. Perhaps you’ll learn that language matters, about your own privilege, that you can’t make everyone happy, that you aren’t responsible for how others perceive you.
Remember that anytime you show up publicly, someone will have a criticism. Stand in your own truth, remember that you know your heart and (hopefully) you are creating work for the highest possible good.