Disclaimer: Before you read any further: if you are a brand or business, this does not apply to you. I have much different advice for handling negative comments when you are a brand or business — this post applies only to personal profiles / social accounts.
There’s been much said about social media and freedom of speech and whether or not you should delete or leave up negative comments. When it comes to my social media feeds, I have zero issue deleting negative comments from my posts. I used to leave them up and stew about them for days but now? I hit delete and I move on with my day.
The reason is pretty simple: I treat my personal social media accounts as an extension of my life.
I show up on social media the exact same way I would show up if I were at a networking event, in my living room or meeting you for the first time. What you see is what you get. I won’t be rude or callous with you and even when I disagree with you, I’ll try to engage with you in the same way I would if we were having a face-to-face conversation.
Due to this belief system, I have an expectation level that other people will also engage with me in the same way. That human decency and respect will come before vitriol. However, this IS the Internet and not everyone plays nicely so when negative comments pop up, I will try to engage in a positive conversation and when that isn’t possible, I delete the comments altogether.
It’s no different than how I’d be in real life, too. For example, if you started blasting me in a professional networking event, I’m going to walk away. If you were in my living room being callous or rude, I’d ask you to leave. Social media is an extension of my life and my values so I do my best to create a space that honours those.
Now, I’m not talking about disagreements or opposing opinions here.
I am also not trying to create an echo chamber in which I only hear what I want to hear and where no one disagrees with me. However, there’s a difference between someone disagreeing and being open to a conversation versus someone who is out for blood. I know you probably know the difference, too, as I’m guessing you’ve felt it before on social media.
So, when someone is out for blood and they are simply looking to derail my day or kick up some dust on purpose, they don’t get to hang out in my space. Just like I wouldn’t invite someone negative into my living room, I avoid it on my social spaces, too, for the betterment of my mental health and for the people who hang out in my community. If I don’t feel safe, how can the people who do wish to engage with me feel safe enough to leave a comment or engage in a healthy conversation?
My rule is this: if it makes me, or anyone else on my post, feel downright awful, I delete it. If it doesn’t add any value whatsoever to the conversation and was only added for shock value, I delete it. If someone is starting a whole other side tangent to stir up drama and it has nothing to do with the original post, I delete it.
Once it’s deleted, I then evaluate that person and ask myself WHY they are in my network.
By signing up on these platforms, you didn’t hand over the right for others to treat you however they want. It’s your space so make sure it feels like it.
Also published on Medium.