Making content for the internet can be simple if you’re on the web the for sake of connecting with your friends after school (or work) hours. It’s also the best way to get your brand out there and have it potentially reach millions of people. With that, people from all over the planet can see what kind of stuff you put out there for us to enjoy. But with that, you are running the possibility of not everyone liking what you have to say. In my earlier article, “Beginning the Road to Internet Notoriety,” I briefly touched on the risks of people criticizing your work. What this article will hopefully do is help you discern the various forms of criticism, but also how to deal with them.
First, let’s start with the good kind. When you put something out on the web for people to see (gameplay footage of videogames, fan fiction, articles for a school- or class-based website, etc.), the people that end up loving your content and saying good things about it may end up commenting that you did a good job or share your work for others to view. As someone who does two of things mentioned in that list above, it’s an amazing feeling when you get told that you did a good job or that people really enjoyed your content. The bigger your following is, the more likely you are to get praise (as well as the other forms of criticism, which we’ll get to later). It comes with the territory. But be warned, constant aggrandizement can be an evil. Praise feeds your ego. Too much of it may make you into someone that believes that they can do no wrong. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but please don’t let it go your head. Even if you think that you’re as famous or well-known as Kanye West, you’re just as human as he is. Heck, you’re just as human as I am. Humans aren’t perfect people. We make mistakes. Praise means you’re doing something right, but that doesn’t mean that you’re always doing everything right. So what should you get out of this section? You shouldn’t get a big head about the content you put out. Sure, what you’re showing off may be great, and many people may love you for it, but no one is perfect.
Now let’s look at criticism from the other side of the spectrum. Depending on the quality or in some cases, abundance of followers that you’ve accrued, there may be times in which people aren’t satisfied with your content and think week-old garbage is better. From first-hand experience, I can say that I hate these kinds of people. Odds are good that you’ll hate them too. These people probably weren’t hugged enough as a child and have a need to take it out on someone. If they do in fact do this, keep in mind that you have to take what they say with a grain of salt. They will probably say stupid things like, “Kill yourself,” or, “This is [homosexual slur],” or my personal favorite, “You suck, you [expletive] piece of [expletive].” Do not take these people’s sayings at face value. They could just be, again, venting some frustration or anger at you to make you feel like this.
However, they could also be saying things just to get a rise out you. Yeah, I’m talking about trolls. These trolls aren’t the ones that live under bridges or the ones from Andy’s toy box in Toy Story. No, these people are looking to crack a joke and get under your skin because they feel the need to get a laugh out of it. So what can you as the content publisher do to prevent this? Well, the good news is that with virtually all media outlets today, you have the right to block or report those people for what they say or continue to say. I wish I could tell you that a simple block can end all your problems with these people, but I’d be lying. Sometimes, these people will create more accounts to put you down or troll you just because they’re immature. Blocking and reporting are things you’ll have to keep after on a regular basis, like regular maintenance on a car. Another thing you could do is mess with them right back. No, this doesn’t mean writing, “Kill yourself,” on their pages. Have a little class, please. What I’m saying is that you should tell them that you are grateful to them for viewing your content and taking the time out of their (presumably) busy days and commenting. It may not work at first, but keeping at it will send a message to them that you are owning what you have made and you do not care what they think. More power to you.
Finally, we have constructive criticism. This variety is the one I find the most insightful. These guys are the ones that I wish I had commenting on my content all the time because they tell me what I do differently next time or if I committed a grammatical error. These guys will do the same for you. They tell you like it is, kind of like Simon Cowell. But unlike Simon Cowell, they are usually as respectful in their commenting as they are honest, kind of like this.
They are willing to give you tips on how your content can be improved. That’s why it’s called constructive criticism. But you also have to keep in mind that while it’s nice that your followers are looking out for you, it’s still up to you to decide which content comes out and how it’s presented. They can have some nice ideas, but if their ideas don’t mesh well with yours, then you don’t have to do as they say. The majority of them will understand that if you explain how you do things.