I'd normally say that I hate to mention another online writer more than once in the same week, but when it's Mary Beth Williams I'll make an exception. Her piece running over at Salon right now on dealing with negative comments from trolls is pretty good stuff. It's especially timely reading for yours truly given the amount of righteous indignation I've been on the receiving end of from people I don't know over the past couple of days.
Writing about negative feedback is tough only because by mentioning at all you're giving the trolls what they want (attention) and by writing about how it affects you you're really giving them what they want (the satisfaction of knowing they can get to you). No, I've never worried about whether people love or hate me since I always assumed, as with most internet endeavors, there would be an equal helping of each. The only advice I ever received on dealing with the assholes came from Drew Curtis, who told me after the first couple of times I was published over at Fark, "Don't read the comment from the Farkers."
And that's kind of what Mary Beth's piece is about today -- her decision to stop reading the comments from her own peanut gallery. Yeah, I occasionally revel in people's hilarious and often "gramatically creative" screeds against me, but I also confess that I'm not typically the target of very personal attacks (which isn't to say they haven't ever happened, since they have). Mary Beth, I know, has really been beat up on, often by a rotating cast of regulars who exemplify the standard troll archetype.
Anyway, take a look. It's worth your time.
Salon: I'm Never Reading the Comments Again/10.25.12
By the way, anyone who's read this site consistently for the past several years knows that I myself used to pick on Mary Beth quite a bit. I considered her part of the stable of catty New York-Centric liberal neo-feminists that Salon once cultivated to obnoxious effect. But when she was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote a very sincere little piece asking readers to keep her in their thoughts, because even though I didn't agree with her on everything, I read her regularly and wouldn't in a million years want to see her suffer. She wrote to me, telling me how much she appreciated the sentiment, especially coming from a "critic." We became friends. Good friends. While I wasn't too harsh on her early on, I still feel kind of bad because I was wrong about her. She's become one of my favorite people -- someone I love dearly. I'm glad she survived. The world's a better place with her in it.