You’re Too Sensitive to Be on the Internet

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Well, maybe not you, but a lot of people are. I’ve seen it happen numerous times: someone writes an opinionated blog post, rejoices over the multiple “I agree! Great post!” pats on the back he receives, then comes across a couple of comments that disagree with him or present an alternate point of view, and all of a sudden he goes on a rage bender and starts cursing about how everyone’s an idiot who don’t know what they’re talking about. The day (and possibly week) is ruined and an epic poutfest ensues.


How about Twitter? You tweet something that a few people disagree with and argue with you about, and now all of a sudden the world is out to get you and everyone’s just ganging up to pick on you. Or Digg? Someone came across a post you wrote and submitted it, and it got ripped apart by some anonymous 19-year olds who have nothing better to do than refresh Digg all day, reducing you to tears and vowing never to blog again.

The fact of the matter is that the Internet is like a great big public bathroom stall. Sometimes it’s clean, unassuming and well-stocked with supplies, but most of the time there’s piss on the floor, a deuce in the toilet, no toilet paper, and various atrocities scrawled onto the walls. Some people avoid them at all costs, electing to hold it until they get home. Others put up with them, going in and out to do their business and not letting it affect their day-to-day lives. Some even hook up in them (shudder), fully embracing these receptacles in all their germ-ridden glory. Whatever your approach, they’re not going away anytime soon so it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to let them affect your life.

public-restroomWelcome to the Internet.

Every once in a while someone’s going to take a big steaming dump over a post you’ve written, a tweet you’ve blasted, a comment you’ve made, or an opinion you’ve had. That’s the great thing about the Internet — everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion, beliefs, viewpoint, whatever, whether it’s right or wrong. If you can’t handle less than 100% of people kissing your ass and fawning over everything you say like it’s the gospel truth, you don’t belong on the Internet because you’re too damn sensitive.

I actually know people – good writers – who have stopped blogging because a couple contrasting opinions and disagreeing comments scared them off. Folks who insist that sites like Digg and Reddit are useless for business simply because some anonymous douchebag downvoted them and said something mean one time. I find that sad yet fitting. If you’re unable to let this stuff roll down your back and shrug it off and cannot be confident in your messaging without letting some faceless bullies step all over you, you’re not suited for blogging, commenting, social networking, or any sort of online interaction.

The most successful people in any industry understand the importance of having a thick skin. I’m sure Jeremy’s heard tons of criticism slung his way, and he doesn’t give a shit. I’ve read gloriously negative comments in response to my blog posts on Digg, Reddit, here, everywhere. Do you think they stop me? Hell no. If actors and actresses quit the business every time someone said something mean about them, there would be no Hollywood. Truly successful people work hard and acknowledge that they will never be loved by everyone, and they’re okay with that.

Are you going to take your ball and go home every time someone yanks your pigtail? Good leaders and successful entrepreneurs don’t. People are assholes sometimes — deal with it. If you can’t, then maybe you shouldn’t be crapping in the public bathroom.

About Rebecca Kelley

Rebecca Kelley is the Director of Marketing for This or That Media. She also runs Mediocre Athlete, a hobby blog about exercising and training, and My Korean Mom, a blog about her harsh but amusing Korean mother. In her spare time, Rebecca is a freelance blogger for hire, loves food and movies, and trains for marathons and triathlons.

111 thoughts on “You’re Too Sensitive to Be on the Internet

    1. Tom -

      That is a good point. How do you handle criticism. For me, I will respond to them if I feel it is constructive criticism, however if it is a just a flame I usually let my other commentators rip them for having a go at me.

    2. Dan Nedelko

      I will generally engage the person at least one time, to take the high road and possibly start a discussion. A number of times the person in question calms down and a good dialogue ensues. Other times, they just ramble on and I walk away – not by reacting to their direct insults but by having stated a point, sounding reasonable and then stopping there (without sinking to their level).

      1. Adam

        That makes sense. This is probably applicable anywhere, really. If I ever get any nasty comments, I usually reply in (emphasized) friendly overtones and that usually calms people down and we get on after that.

        I guess it’s just making people think reasonably instead of trying to force your view upon them. (if it comes to measures like these)

      2. Blake

        Never argue with an idiot. First they drag you to their level, then beat you with experience.

        I’m with you on this one. I’ll usually give trolls one chance. Then I let them starve from lack of attention.

    3. Bobby Kircher

      It depends on the person and the type of comment or point he/she makes.

      If the feedback rational and intelligent, definitely start a dialogue with that person.

      If it’s hateful, irrational, or just plain nuts, it’s best to ignore and walk away.

      Intelligent debate is the best kind.

  1. Andrew @

    When I first started on-line, I was mentored by a ‘world famous’ internet guru and one of the first things he warned me about was the abuse I would receive.

    He told me to grow a thick skin, ignore them and move on.

    And, I never, albeit tempting sometimes, get into a conversation with them.


  2. ZK @ Web Marketing Blog

    Before going to do this you should build your followers, you should be part of similar thinking people.

    People got the maximum vote because they have such kind of friend circle which supports them.

    So do your home work. If such toilet does not have toilet paper than you should carry toilet paper in your pocket.

  3. David Zemens

    The internet is indeed a great public bathroom just like you say.

    I think the reaction that you describe from some people is simply a reflection of society as a whole. Many people believe that they are entitled to everything and that it is always about them. When someone dares to question them or be critical, their outrage, which was born out of their sense of entitlement, kicks into play.

    Good article. Thanks.

  4. Sockmoney

    Great post. I run a user-generated content site. We see this all the time. Folks go off the handle when they get any sort of negative feedback. It is really amazing to watch it happen. These are probably normal folks in their daily lives, but give them an faceless user account and some bad feedback and watch out… they turn into wolves.

    It is an unfortunate sad representation of how many folks really want to act out in real society…

  5. Les Bryant

    Nice post but, I disagree a bit. I have removed myself from several situations because things get stupid. By stupid I meant that instead of presenting a contrary agrument people devolve to the juvenile, the personal, the racial and even the violent. I don’t mind criticism at all but, what I do mind is people who can’t agrue like adults. Getting a spine isn’t really the answer because these situations are indicative of so much more. It’s about thinking and people who don’t think vote for crazy people and end up in bad situations. Even in a public toilet there should be rules.

    1. Rebecca Kelley Post author

      I agree with you to an extent. I’m not saying you need to get into a flame war in order to defend yourself, just that you shouldn’t retreat from a community if someone posts a disagreeing comment. Sometimes the best course of action is to ignore someone, but at the same time you can’t swear off blogging just because one person doesn’t happen to like a post you’ve written. Hope that makes sense…

      1. Les Bryant

        We generally are in agreement. I think I probably draw the line a little quicker than yourself which isn’t a judgement. For me It’s about civility. Anyone may disagree with me all they want but, just be civil about it. All that flaming derails discussions.

  6. Bruce Mind

    Wow, what a strong post!
    You have to learn to define real critics and jealous assholes… Ignore last-mentioned and find value in critics’ opinions. You should love people who don’t kiss your ass. Their open opinion might help you get better!

  7. Dan Nedelko

    I’ve been in Internet Marketing for almost 8 years now, in technology for 12 years as a software developer and entrepreneur.

    Not only that I’ve done quite a bit of work in the online gambling space (not exactly the most professional vertical ever).

    In that time I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been insulted, called names, attacked personally, had people posting false content under my name and so the list goes on.

    Rebecca is totally right, have a thick skin, back up what you say and hey, if you’re wrong about something just admit you’re wrong. No need to get up in arms about it. As good as anyone is professionally, no one is perfect and this is the Wild West out here.

    Pull up your socks and don’t get too offended. Like I said I have war wounds and stories that go on and one.

    Keep Smilin’ :)


    1. Adam

      I certainly am smiling after reading this comment! This bought up several interesting points for me. You get a nice vote from me 😀

    2. ZK @ Web Marketing Blog

      @ DAN

      Friend, today in every profession you will have to see this kind of things because all seats are booked and occupied now and if you want to get one than you will have to remove someone.

      To remove him/her you can apply any kind of things which you just mentioned above.


    That post really sucked. (hehe someone had to make the gag!).

    If your site has a wide readership then you are NEVER going to get 100% agreement. I lost a number of single minded members of my core community site early on because I stuck to my guns, hissy fits, mild threats and assertions that my site will fail were all ignored and I was eventually left with the kind of members I wanted to hang out with.

    The sooner we learn that we can’t please everyone the better. BUT this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen – because sometimes our minds need to be open and a well piece of criticism could make a big difference to how you take things forward.

    1. Rebecca Kelley Post author

      I definitely agree with your second paragraph. It’s important to acknowledge that you can’t please everyone, but you also shouldn’t ignore every bit of criticism that comes your way because some of it is bound to be helpful/constructive. Great points!

        1. hd fta receivers

          Yes very true, there should be limit for good and healthy criticism. If there is unhealthy environment, you will feel sad and unmotivated and ultimately end up in loosing. So just try to maintain the optimum balance.

  9. Gabe |

    Great post. It’s actually true that some people are really too sensitive to be on the internet.

    If you have an audience, you’re going to get people who disagree. Most loyal followers will do it politely but from time to time, you get someone who you’ve never seen before just rip away on your comment board.

    That’s when you know you made it. 😉

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  11. Rob J

    Great post, but I feel compelled to trash it anyway just to help prove your point. I only wish I could.

    I also approve of the word ‘deuce’, BTW. Nice image.


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  13. Internet Business Coach

    Personally, I try not to lose too much time online…

    I think it’s Dan kennedy who said something that it you are not receiving “bad comments” from your visitors/subscribers, you are not marketing hard enough.

    Something like this…


  14. Fuck You Cunt

    Edited by: ShoeMoney – dude there is a line between being critical and then your comment which was sexist, racist, and just plain retarded.

  15. Tech

    Lol some people take the internet way too seriously. Why would you get upset about the opinion of someone you’ve never met?

  16. Doug/

    I’ve learned from other public venues I’ve been in, you don’t get to choose whether everyone will like you or not. Some people just won’t. You only get to choose who likes you. So be true to yourself and your ideals and forget about the cheap shots.

  17. Denny

    Well said woman. We’re getting way to PC and most people can’t take a simple direct comment, let alone abusive criticism. People need to grow some nuts.

  18. Danger Brown

    OK, true. But if I were posting something on I’d try to make it more relevant. You’re only pointing out the obvious. Sorry. I thought it was weak and I’m not just saying that to be ‘clever’.

  19. Anita Santiago

    Great point. So many people take feedback personally. In order to improve, we have to know our weak areas. The only way to get that information is from people who are objective & and free from the undue influence of business or personal relationships. This is good advice for those of us new to the blogging community. A reminder that we put our readers, keep our focus and use feedback to improve content. Thx for sharing

  20. Alan Bleiweiss


    I’m in the “this can’t be stated often enough” camp. In fact, I totally believe in the concept that a detractor’s comment is the perfect opportunity to either a) reinforce your position by specifically addressing the moaner, or b) opening one’s mind to consider something that I might not have otherwise previously thought of, until I got ripped by that comment.

    Either way, it’s a win, because it means people are seeing what you’re writing.

  21. fjpoblam

    You’re right, of course. Now, if I could just get you to remind me next time. I’ve a memory like a sieve.

    What? Did I say something?

  22. LostinTranslation

    AWESOME post!! I couldn’t agree with you more, and the reason why is because I feel that criticism is the key to understanding another point of view, while not necessarily agreeing with it. Nothing is always one sided nor perfect, no matter how nice that would be. The beauty of the criticism is that, as you pointed out, you’ve now connected with a wider market than those who may have initially signed onto your posts. It’s the extra baggage that comes, and like a couple who has children, you have to remember the children won’t think EXACTLY like their parents (hopefully)…So, awesome post and keep up the fantastic work ..LostinTranslation (LIT)

  23. R Kumar

    What you have written is a fact of life. Nobody likes to be criticized. Any criticism, if it contains a negative comment, is taken to heart. People hence get demotivated or, give back in the same coin.
    Both of the above behavior is incorrect when it comes to expressing your opinion especially in a medium like that of the internet. You express an opinion, expecting people to read it and refute or, accept. If people accept, they will stay mum and not comment. But if they refute they will comment. The comments saying – “Yes, I agree” is all SPAM and the comments with negative mention are the valuable ones. Your objective with writing is to improve with constant feedbacks, then why the resistance to negative comments.
    The best way to work on such criticism is to read it again and again every 10 minutes and resist from acting for the next 2 days. Psycologically, it is said that after 24hrs you start to realize that a criticism was actually right and then after the next 24 hrs you start to act on it.

  24. Merle

    It’s true. What’s that old saying “You can please some of the people some of time but……” I’ve been called lots of things in the course of the last 10 years of marketing online and to be truthful sometimes it stings, especially when people attack and name call. Criticism is one thing, attacking someone is a little different and I think is plain rude and shows a lack of manners. People are sometimes more harsh online because they’re hiding behind their keyboard and are a faceless entity. That doesn’t make it right.

    Can’t we all just get along? I’m going to take my ball now and go home.

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  26. hd fta receivers

    I think one should not react to any criticism. lets understand one thing clear that nothing in this world is perfect. I you do some things, there would be group of people who will adore you and there will always a group of people who will criticize you like hell. You need to take all this lightly. You should not get carried away with such things.

    1. PPC Tips

      I agree, when people are arguing over a post I made it makes me feel like I did a good job. I got people thinking about things my way. Even if they don’t agree.

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  28. Cheaper Parcel Deliveries

    This site is called Shoemoney not shoephilosphy. But it’s worth considering that in show business there’s a saying that goes ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ as any time someone provides public criticism it increases noteriety. But maybe that doesn’t work advantageously for all circumstances.

    1. Adsense Publieher

      I agree that you can take bad press and turn it into a plus, but I’d like Google to try this with literally tens of thousands of publisher payments not being sent when promised, citing glitches in their payment system. We are personally owed $9,000 and if we don’t get a payment in November that total will be just above $17,000 to what is owed.

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  30. sui

    well,I think the criticism works in two ways, first make people happy and make people unhappy, depending on how they see the criticism, somehow we do not realize that we need to be criticism for not to be critisized ..

  31. bursa

    That is a good point. How do you handle criticism. For me, I will respond to them if I feel it is constructive criticism, however if it is a just a flame I usually let my other commentators rip them for having a go at me.

  32. David Cameron

    Well said. And it’s true. You’re going to get the full range of comments in the blogosphere, the good, the bad and the ugly. How you respond speaks to your character and professionalism.

    As some have already said, a large part of this comes down to a commitment to listen and understand the comment. Is there some merit to the criticism, even if you don’t care for the delivery? What is that guy/gal really trying to say? What can I learn or take away from that one?

    What’s that old tired line? The blogosphere has more characters than Disney World!! So, you’re going to have your Evil Queen’s, Jafar’s, Maleficent’s, etc.

    That doesn’t mean you have to like some of these characters. Because let’s face it, sometimes we do come across folks who aren’t in this for constructive discussion, but to attack in mean spirited ways or simply don’t know how to get their point across nicely.

    My rule is to look for the substance behind a comment and not to take a contrasting view to heart. It’s not a personal attack.

    That said, I expect and demand respect and all of us should. We treat people how to treat us, after all, and I won’t tolerate inappropriate behavior.

    Anyhow, in sum, couldn’t agree more. If you’re too sensitive and can’t handle contrasting points of view, you don’t belong out here!!!

  33. Deborah

    Great article! This reminds me of Megan McCain threatening to quit tweeting after some negative feedback about her tweet picture showing her cleavage.

  34. Deneil Merritt

    This post is the shit. I believe you can’t be successful without haters. You need someone to disagree with you. Your fans/readers will get behind you 100% against those haters. Personally I been waiting for those who will hate what I write and disagree with what I got to say.

  35. Michael Grabowski

    I certainly agree.. I own a site that many people love but some truly hate. Why would I care about the haters? they aren’t the ones that are going to get the site the book deal I want.

    Some people need to truly man the fuck up.

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  37. Dawna

    Sometimes critical comments are constructive and worth considering. Other times it’s clear they are not valuable and the person has other motivations. It’s not possible to please everyone so a thick skin is needed for online publishing.

  38. Ryan,

    Agree with you, it’s a matter how you take it and deal with it. It could make the best out of you if you will handle it will. If you don’t want to hear anything negative about you or your business better not use the Internet as a medium or don’t use the Internet at all. No cry babies allowed…

  39. Shane

    Haha, i like the bathroom stall analogy! It’s so true, the Internet is perhaps the most public place on earth and there’s bound to be some negativity.
    As a blogger/writer, you just need to be able to discern the real criticism (need to improve your skills) from pointless negativity (ignore).

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  45. Reliable Internet Marketing Company

    There is a lot to learn about internet marketing and it never ends because internet marketing is always moving forwards. I can’t brag about being an expert but I do know how to set an internet marketing and now I am excited about my new subscription to some important network affiliates and looking forward to see the results. People like these kind of experts will dictate trends in internet marketing, we need to step close to them and keep up, that’s the way it goes and that’s the way I see it.

  46. Laura King

    What a great article – Rebecca writes really well and it is so true. I think the fact that many people hid behind names online, they think it gives them the right to be rude, insulting, lie etc etc.

    My mum used to say “other peoples opinions are none of your business” and that is so true especially online. Get over it and don’t let any negative remarks deter you from your goal which should be to make money not to get into a slagging match with “little sue” who could be a six foot giant bloke from anywhere.

    I have a real love hate relationship with this blog, I love it because there is always great stuff to read but I hate it as it gets in the way of my work getting done lol

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  48. Lisa

    I hate criticism and have certainly been thin skinned at times, but I once took an approach that made a positive out of negative. After writing a post that apparently pressed some real buttons, I tried to be somewhat politically correct with my replies. The nastiness kept coming, so I decided to go ahead and have some fun instead. I said exactly what I wanted, more for my own amusement than anything else. I didn’t make any new friends with some of those commenters, but I did laugh until I cried a couple of times. This isn’t the right answer for everyone, but it’s a fun approach for those trying to get a little more thick skinned. Besides, the older I get, the less I care anyway. I’ve learned that the vast majority of people just aren’t worth my time. If you want to know the post I’m talking about, just Google “James Durbin Aspergers” and see what you find. Ciao!

  49. Joe Piroli

    Some Internet Marketing Gurus adore criticism as they reckon it creates traffic to the piece in question, its like an incident type thing, you’ll always get a crowd. The idea is to do battle with your aggressor, and supposedly more people will come and join in. Everyone likes a fight!

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  51. Erlinda Shen

    LOL, I don’t have this problem yet, only because my blog is so new. Still, I think anything would be better than the brainless spam comments that pop up.

  52. Jason Hennessey

    I really enjoyed this post! Blogs are a great tool to voice your true thoughts and opinions on things. And hey…even if you stir up some controversy, that may even be a good thing :)

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  54. Refugio Arriozola

    This will help me with my associates who are afraid of posting something in the web.

    It is possible to translate your post to spanish and repost it in my blog? please let me know

    Thanks in advance

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