How to Handle a Hater

The jerk whispererIf you are online daring to suggest that fat people deserve to be treated with basic human respect, at some point you will likely end up with a hater.  Hate takes lots of forms from “well meaning” to abusive.  I’ve discussed dealing with “well intentioned” haters before, today I want to talk about the abusive kind of haters.

I’ll give you some techniques that I use to deal with this but my primary advice is to remind yourself that the problem is with these people and not with you.  I figured this out the hard way – there was a day when I was the victim of a coordinated hate attack, In 48 hours I received over 5,000 comments almost all of which called me some horrible name and suggested that I kill myself.

Using the techniques I will share below, I managed to keep any of it from appearing in public and I didn’t mention it in public for months so that after 2 days, 30,000 hits and over 5,000 comments these people had nothing to show for their work.  But something even cooler happened – it became crystal clear to me that these people were seriously messed up and that it had nothing to do with me.  I don’t wish this experience on you, but feel free to share the conclusions.

In the meantime, here are some ways to deal with haters (as always, your mileage may vary and these are only suggestions – I support you in dealing with haters any way you want.)

1.  Moderate, Moderate, Moderate

When I started out, I felt like I should post every comment that wasn’t just overt spam.   I believed that it was somehow cowardly to not post hater comments.  I have since changed my mind – I work hard to put out good information on this blog and develop a readership and I don’t have to hand that forum over to a hater to prove anything.  People are allowed to behave like idiots but I’m under no obligation to give them a place to do so.  I also realized that it was truly upsetting to readers who were just dipping their toe in the size acceptance pool to read the kind of hate that I get.  I moderate everything – my blog, my youtube videos, my facebook, everything.  Remember that when you have a blog, youtube channel, facebook page etc.  it is a world that you created and you are the underpants overlord boss of everything, you can make decisions accordingly.

2.  Skim

I read just enough to figure out that something is hatemail and then delete it.  The fact that someone has managed to submit a comment correctly does not obligate me to read it, especially since so many of them just don’t make any kind of effort toward creativity.

3.  Don’t bring logic to a hate fight

I used to think that I could reason with these people or that the fact that I could back up my claims with evidence and my haters could not would be important to the debate.  Turns out that I am not the jackass whisperer.  I choose in my work to focus less on whether other people believe that fat people deserve to be treated with respect, and more on whether fat people believe that they deserve to be treated with respect.  That means that engaging haters is not the best use of my time.

4.  Decide on the day

Maybe you’re having a day when the hatiest of hate mail doesn’t bother you and you decide that you want to spar with the haters.  That’s fine.  Maybe you’ve just had it and you don’t even want to check your comments – that’s ok to.  This is hard work and taking care of the person doing that work (that would be you!)  is important.

5.  Have a little fun

My blog gives me the ability to edit comments, and choose who can post freely and who gets moderated.  Sometimes people who send me tons of hatemail will try to sneak through something that sounds positive.  I always approve it but then send them into permanent moderation so they can’t follow up as they would like and it ends up looking like they love my blog.  Juvenile?  You betcha and I don’t care.

6.  More’s the Pity

It can help to remember that these people are just kind of pitiful – they spend their days on the internet, seeking out people with whom they disagree so that they can be unbelievably rude to them. It hardly ever happens anymore but if hatemail even starts to bother me a little bit I just remember to thank all the gods that I’m not in whatever situation has lead these people to this behavior.

7.  Monetize it.

When I saw mommy blogger Dooce’s page to monetize her hate I knew that I was looking at brilliance.  Now I have a page of my own.  It’s off the blog so that people who don’t want to be triggered never come into contact with it accidentally, and it’s cathartic to me to answer the hatemail.  I’ve just updated it with new hatemail, you can check it out at  [Trigger Warning:  it’s hatemail y’all]

8.  Report it

Some bloggers publish e-mail addresses and other personal information from their haters.  I know at least three bloggers who track IPs of hate mail that they get during work hours that come from businesses, then inform the people in charge that someone from their company is spending their work time sending hateful, cruel, and threatening e-mails. Consider other methods of reporting, especially if it gets way out of control with threats of violence etc.

Whatever you do, I highly recommend a modification of one of my favorite mantras (modified any way you like):  my haters are fucked up and i am fine.

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36 thoughts on “How to Handle a Hater

  1. This is such a timely topic. Have you been following the furore in the UK over hateful and threatening tweets sent to politicians? Women politicians, of course. One journalist spoke to some real life trolls who expressed the belief that women who speak out on just about anything deserve what’s coming to them.

    One of the most interesting things to come out of the whole debate is that women who go online are expected to put up with this. The mere fact of expressing a public opinion means there is little sympathy or even regard for women who get troll threats that might actually turn into real threats one day. Being female and a member of a stigmatised group (fat, racially stigmatised) means even more trolling, even more threats.

    Your points are excellent, but could I add one? My choice would be: keep blogging, keep speaking out, keep tweeting. Don’t let the haters silence you. That’s the thing they’re after.

  2. I don’t think haters want to silence you as much as they want to tear you down from the inside so there’s nothing left. They want to destroy and defeat you, then laugh as you keep trying to get back up and fight some more.

    There is some deep psychological flaw with people when they simply can’t accept a fat person saying something on the internet. It’s almost visceral, this hatred of anyone who isn’t thin. It scares me.

  3. I’ve dealt with some hate recently (anonymous – cowards!). My reaction to it is GOOD. It means my message is being heard. A revolution requires discomfort. It requires people noticing that you’re standing up and saying, “hey, this is NOT okay, and I am gonna work to change it in my own small way.” If I have people hating on me, it means my message is getting out.

    And I figure that for every coward hiding behind a monitor, taking time to say nasty things about me anonymously, there is a person who is receptive to what I’m saying. Maybe even a fellow fat person who really needs to hear the message I aim to send.

  4. OMG I went to the hate mail blog-ette; your responses started my day out in a grand way! Lovely, succinct, funny, intelligent. Thank you.

  5. I love the one about allowing the one positivish comment through and then putting them in permanent moderation. That gives me a giggle.

    Ultimately, your blog is like your home: you get to decide who gets in the door and what they’re allowed to do when they get there.

    For instance, anyone who wishes is allowed to smoke… but not inside my house. In my house I insist they go outdoors. I’m extremely sensitive to smoke and my husband has heart disease. We’ve each lost a parent to lung cancer, too. Smoke all you like anywhere it’s welcome. Our porch is available to you at no extra cost. For someone else, it might be no meat beyond these doors or this is a clothing-free zone. Anyone who wants in needs to decide whether they’re willing to put up with the rules. They just don’t get to blithely ignore the rules.

    By the same token, you don’t have to allow trolls onto your blog.

  6. Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    With the “free speech” issue, a lot of these trolls like to trumpet about how their right to “free speech” is being violated. These idiots are confusing free speech with Freeze Peach.
    In the United States, the First Amendment states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    This doesn’t mean that every person must give anyone the right to blurt whatever comes out of their mouths. There is no law that states that private entities must give a platform to whomever comes along to spew whatever they want to spew. That is Freeze Peach, not free speech. 😉

    1. Another element of Freeze Peach as opposed to Free Speech is the idea that idiots can say whatever they want to without consequences. Which is probably what they whine when their threats are reported to their employers.

  7. I laughed my head out reading about your trick of approving only flattering, insincere comments from known trolls. Damn you for making me spill half a cup of coffee.

    I usually am a wallflower who reads your blog without commenting, but I wanted to say that I really enjoy it. It has been an eye-opener. While I would not have made negative comments about a friend’s or a stranger’s size before (it is none of my business and just incredibly rude), neither did I realize how common and hurtful it is. Obviously, now I automatically speak up against it.
    So your hard work is not wasted on this anonymous reader (and on many more anonymous readers, probably).

    Squirm in discomfort, trolls-and-haters ! The advocacy is *working*. 😉

  8. Well, the next time my life isn’t going well, I shall go back and reread those gems of humor and wisdom you receive… Then I will thank ALL the Gods that my life isn’t so shitty that I need to write things like that to a stranger on the internet. ❤

  9. The one from the Navy Seal was priceless. I bet your ego got a boost knowing how much he was willing to do to take to take you out. I mean, I’m impressed.

    1. The Navy Seal one was my favorite also. Would have been a hoot had the IPS address actually went back to the military What a scandal.

      I also LOVE the ones where they tell you to post their comments. Like you have to listen to them!

      I’ll end this by saying I am terrible sorry you have to get this kind of stuff. These people are truly demented.

    2. Ya, I’m thinking that person has nothing to do with the Seals, s/he sounds quite delusional. Not only is the person unable to spell guerrilla: S/he references confirmed kills… the Pentagon does not actually track a single military person’s kills. The persons killed are confirmed but not attributed to an individual military person in official records, not even to snipers. Now, individuals and units have been known to track their kills, but they’re not “confirmed” in the legal sense… so, um, no. He refers to a spy network, no one who works in a government Intelligence field calls themselves or their compadres spies. No one member of a Seal team has access to the entire Marine Corps arsenal… I could go on and on…
      I’m thinking that guy/gal is one of those who got all his/her ideas about the military and the world of espionage from games/movies/tv.

      1. I also love how it’s going to take his whole team of ‘spies’ to discern Regan’s IP address… like that would be so hard to find.

        All I know is that as soon as I saw how (s)he had spetl ‘guerrilla’ as ‘gorilla’ I immediately started hearing Warren Zevon’s song Gorilla You’re a Desperado in my head, and it’s still popping up to make me giggle the next day.

  10. Thank you for posting this. I mean it. I fight fat-haters all the time, and too often get into spats with them, and others, about their bigotry and hate – be it of fat people, the poor, immigrants, and etc. I need to remember that I, too, am not the jackass whisperer.

  11. How did you keep a tsunami of hate from showing up anywhere? Did that include twitter? Good thing you are such a smart, savvy woman! I’m sure THAT never occurred to the haters.

    Love everything you do. THANK YOU!

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