Dear Person Who Just Left a Negative Comment About Something On the Internet

An open letter to haters.


Hello.

You’ve been sent here because you just posted something negative about something someone made on the internet. Maybe it was about a person who makes things. So I want to talk to you for a second. More importantly, I want to ask you a very important question.

Here is that question:

What are you doing?

I’m not asking why you believe what you believe. Please understand that. I am asking what you are actually doing with your time and words. You went onto the internet, and announced that in your opinion, something is less than ideal. For you.

Okay.

Did you explain why? Did you offer any suggestions for improving the thing you don’t like?

At this point you may be thinking that it’s not your job to make this stuff better. You just want people to know this thing is lame.

Okay.

Why?

Really, really think about this. Why exactly are you telling people a thing is lame? To warn them against buying it, or going to see it in a theater, or eating it? Is the thing dangerous? Will people be hurt if you do not intervene? If so, then by all means please stop reading this and get back to helping others.

But.

If you are hoping to save others from simply not liking a thing, consider this:

People like vastly different things.

Would you walk into a Wendy’s, look around at all the people eating hamburgers, then announce that you hate hamburgers? I’m guessing you would not.

So why would you go online to tell strangers what you think about something they might really love? More to the point, why would you do so without them asking? Arriving at the point, why would you do so in a place where people are already enjoying the thing you don’t like?

I have a guess about this, and it is not uninformed. I want you to consider the fact that the possibility exists that you said what you said just to get attention.

Please do not be offended by this. In many ways, I am writing this post for attention. Attention is useful. Maybe even profitable. There is not always something wrong with trying to get it.

But.

This time you sought it at someone else’s expense. And chances are really, really good you looked like a jerk. Even if you got hundreds of people to rally behind your meanness, you still looked like a jerk. There is no way past, through, or around that. You picked on Timmy’s backpack so the rest of the class would think you’re cool. Unfortunately for you and your comment, this isn’t third grade. The internet is getting smarter. Our culture is becoming more tolerant. And comments like yours are no longer okay.

Maybe it was a thing you ridiculed, but a person made that thing. Chances are good they worked very hard on it while they tried to put something out there for people to enjoy. Chances are even better they are demotivated by drive-by criticism of what they do.

Here is why that is important:

You like things. You like things enough to try to somehow smother bad things so there will be nothing but good things. The person who made this thing also likes things. That’s why they make things.

So.

Let them keep trying. Let them do so in as supportive an environment as you can give them. And here is what will happen: Their things will get better. Everyone’s things will get better. And you will have more things to love. It will cost you that attention you would have had otherwise, but it will be worth it. I promise you.

You may be thinking HEY I CAN SAY WHATEVER I WANT IT’S A FREE INTERNET. And you are absolutely correct. You can. But I want you to consider that you shouldn’t. You could walk through a mall telling everyone how ugly you believe your neighbor is. There is nothing illegal about that, as far as I know. But you shouldn’t.

So please do all you can to keep your input constructive and selfless. And watch what happens.

For years, people have put up with this stuff, saying that’s just how it is on the internet. But that’s not how it’s going to be.

This is how it’s going to be.

It’s 2014. We have plenty of ways to get attention these days. Take a selfie with your pug. You’ll get an avalanche of attention. You don’t need to take it from others, or hurt people or ideas in the process.

If you can make or have made something better than the thing you think is lame, then post that thing. You might be thinking that’s arrogant and horrible, but it’s actually less so than just dumping on something and running away. Because competition moves things forward, and you are playing fair by opening yourself up to criticism the same way the person you’re dumping on already has. That person is ahead of you. They have put themselves out there. Do the same or keep it polite and helpful. Otherwise, you’re just in the way.

This is how things get better. This is how we get better.


Thanks for reading. If you liked this, then you may like this other thing I made.


Want to send this to someone who needs to read it? Just remember “dearhater” and send those people to bit.ly/dearhater every time.