Today, as I was eating lunch, I overheard a regular customer discussing his church with a waitress. They were having some trouble, he said. People were complaining about the minister. Then he added, “Of course, if they had to come say it face to face, there would be no issue. It’s only when you complain anonymously online that you think you can say the meanest and most hateful things and get away with it.”
I gave up reading comments sections to articles a while back, because, frankly, they gave me a bad attitude about my fellow humans for days. The nastiness, the snarkiness, the personal attacks. Life is too short to put up with such things. Still, although I suppose I should know better, I was still a little saddened at what I heard. I guess I’d hoped that churches could still be above such things.
Of course, hateful, back-stabbing, personal attacks are nothing new. They have just become easier to deliver in the virtual world. It’s one thing to ignore them when they are about celebrities, politicians, or anyone who happens to be in the news. But what about when they are aimed at you?
Well, here are my suggestions. (But with the disclosure that, more than once, mean remarks have put me in a corner with a packet of powdered sugar donuts, trying not to cry.)
- I think the man at lunch nailed it. If there is a problem the person should come see you and talk about it. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s an anonymous attack, then it automatically doesn’t merit my attention.
- Deflect tattle-tales. I’ve had people say, “X thinks you’re (fill in the blank), but don’t say anything because she’ll be mad at me.” I would anguish over this until I realized I couldn’t live this way. So now if I can stop the statement beforehand, I do. If not, I answer, “Then X needs to come talk to me about it.” (I’ve also come to realize that this is often a way for people to complain about me while blaming someone else for the complaint. But the same theory applies.)
- Realize the only people who never get criticized don’t do much with their lives. There will always be people who think our beliefs and our choices are stupid. In most cases, unless you’ve asked for their opinion and/or they are bankrolling your dreams, they don’t get a vote.
Years ago, when Madonna divorced her husband, her hubby, in a less-than-gallant moment, reportedly said that making love to her was like “cuddling up to a piece of gristle.” There was one perfect celebrity response. (Unfortunately, I can’t remember who said it.) She said that men hated women for being too fat. And then Madonna was mocked for being too fit. The lesson was that women were always going to be judged unkindly, so the best bet was to just be happy with your body and live your life.
Anyone can make nasty comments. There are times we’re all going to be judged unkindly. Ignore the haters. And if you can’t ignore them, go ahead and eat your powdered-sugar donuts in the corner, but then get up and live your life with no regard for the comments section.