dog drinking juice

How to Deal with Internet Criticism

Carol Burnett once said:

Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.

Carol Burnett

Carol’s quote came to mind recently, when I received some strongly-worded criticism in response to a post I’d made, on a social media group. Whether my words were truth or lies, seemed less relevant than the individual opinions of the responders making the comments.

It seemed some people relished an opportunity to vent their spleen, albeit in an anonymous way.

Photo by Markus Winkler on

Normally, I’d be a little rattled by heavy-handed criticism, but I’m no longer surprised by being hammered with a critical counter-argument, at least on social media.

And yet, in distancing myself from reacting to the negative commentary, I began to feel like some kind of stone-hearted internet troll.

Aristotle was unsurprisingly philosophical about criticism:

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”


I wondered should we ignore all negative feedback and scroll on, or respond to critical comments? If so, how?

Criticism of others’ opinions via the internet, and indeed, cyber-bullying, itself, has seemingly reached pandemic proportions. Thankfully the blogging world is mostly immune to negativity, but it did make me wonder how others dealt constructively, with heavy-handed criticism.

An American Politician, Sam Rayburn once said,

Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build it.

Marc and Angel advocated creating space between hurtful words and feelings.

“Accept that someone else’s opinion is NOT your problem.”

“How you seem to someone and how you actually are, is rarely congruent.

Even if they get the basic gist of who you are, they’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle. What someone thinks of you will rarely contain the whole truth, which is fine.”

Marc and Angel

A measure of acceptance that we are all flawed and that we are all different, is echoed in this anonymous saying from

Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but having faults different from your own.  

Perhaps we can all agree to disagree?

Have you experienced reactive negative criticism on the internet to a post you made?

How did you handle it?

Is there a better way to respond?

Community, Mental Health, Motivational

How to Stop Worrying about What People Think – social anxiety and bullying

Socialising does not come easily for everyone. As hard as they try….No matter how ridiculous other's think may look, be yourself and don't care what people are thinking.

For some people, social anxiety and harassment comes hand in hand and bullying can take place at school, home and in the workplace. How they cope or don’t cope with it, can have a huge impact on their lives. My son is still working through some of these issues. Prevention of harassment and bullying or treating self-esteem issues or negative thinking/anxiety is not just about protecting the victims, or eliminating instances from occuring, through education, (although this is still important), but also should be about supporting a proactive approach rather than a re-active one. In every instance, it can be helpful to arm the victim with the right “cognitive tools” to cope with social anxiety and or harassment. Here is a few ideas about worrying about what others think of you. I found whilst browsing the web. They are not my original ideas, I have added to their insight from my experience.

Get comfortable with not knowing what other people think.

How much energy do you  waste worrying about this?  I’ve gradually learned to relax with simply not knowing what others think about me or my work. Sometimes I slip back and that part of my mind dwells on the negatives, but I now understand that the way we think determines our world, so I do everything I can to stop thinking that way.

Some problems in life, such as not knowing what others think of you, are not really meant to be resolved.  How people perceive you may have more to do with them than you anyway.  They may even like or dislike you simply because you’ve triggered an association in their minds by reminding them of someone they liked or disliked from their past, which has absolutely nothing to do with you.

So here’s a new mantra for you – say it, and then say it again: “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons.  As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”

Know that most people are NOT thinking about you anyway.

Ethel Barrett once said, “We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Forget what everyone else thinks of you; chances are, they aren’t thinking about you anyway.  If you feel like they always are, understand that this perception of them watching you and critiquing your every move is a complete figment of your imagination.  It’s your own inner fears and insecurities that are creating this illusion.  It’s you judging yourself that’s the problem.

My experience: A lot of people are so self-absorbed that they have more important things in their life than to be thinking about you all the time.

Accept that someone else’s opinion is NOT your problem.

How many times have you looked at a person and initially misjudged their brilliance?  Appearances are deceptive.  How you seem to someone and how you actually are, is rarely congruent.  Even if they get the basic gist of who you are, they’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle.  What someone thinks of you will rarely contain the whole truth, which is fine.

If someone forms an opinion of you based on superficialities, then it’s up to them, not you, to reform those opinions based on a more objective and rational viewpoint.  Leave it to them to worry about – that is, if they even have an opinion at all.

People will think what they want to think.  No matter how carefully you choose your words and mannerisms, there’s always a good chance they’ll be misinterpreted and twisted upside down by someone.  Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?  No, it doesn’t.

How others see you is not important.  How you see yourself, means the world.  When you’re making big decisions, remember, what you think of yourself and your life is more important than what people think of you.  Stay true to YOU.  Never be ashamed of doing what feels right.  Decide what you think is right and stick to it.

Be fully present and aware of how you DO want to feel.

It’s OK to know how you do not want to feel, but that’s not all you should be thinking about.  Imagine someone trying to learn to read by spending all their time focusing on how they do not want to not be able to read.  It doesn’t really make any sense, does it?

Enough is enough!  Forget what you do not want to feel for a moment.  Work out how you DO want to feel right now in the present moment.  Train yourself to live right here, right now without regretting how others once made you feel, or fearing the possibility of future judgment.

Speak and live your truth.

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.  Be cordial and reasonable, of course, but don’t tread carefully on every word you say.  Push your concerns of what others might think aside.  Let the consequences of doing so unravel naturally.  What you’ll find is that most of the time no one will be offended or irritated at all.  And if they do get upset, it’s likely only because you’ve started behaving in a way that makes them feel they have less power over you.

Think about it.  Why be fake?

In the end, the truth usually comes out one way or the other, and when that happens, you’re standing alone if you’ve been living a lie.  So live your whole truth starting now.  If someone gives you a hard time and says, “You’ve changed,” it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you stopped living your life their way.  Don’t apologize for it.  Instead, be open and sincere, explain how you feel, and keep doing what you know in your heart is right.

You cannot make someone respect you; all you can do is be someone who can be respected.  The rest is up to them.  No matter how much you care some people just won’t care back.  It’s not the end of the world.  At some point you have to realize the truth – that they no longer care or never did, and that maybe you’re wasting your time and missing out on someone else who does. (

A life spent ceaselessly trying to please people who, perhaps, are incapable of ever being pleased, or trying too hard to always be seen as doing “the right thing,” is a sure road to a regretful existence.

Do more than just exist.  We all exist.  The question is:  Do you live?

I eventually realized existing without ever truly living was not what I wanted for myself.  So I made changes If you are in the same place I once was, seeking approval from everyone for every little thing you do, please take this post to heart and start making changes today.  Life is too short not to.

A Will Smith quote, “Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings, and emotions”

If you keep worrying about how the people in or out of your life don’t like you, you’ll miss those who are already in your life or who want to come into your life, the ones who, perhaps, can help you to the next level.

Once you stop caring about what others say about you, your life changes forever.

When people tease and or bait you the next time, look at them with a puzzled, sympathetic look and say, “Hmm, you must be so unhappy.” and walk away. They might be so surprised and embarrassed, they say nothing further. But if they pursue you, or try to argue with you, let them rant on while you have a bored expression on your face, and then say, “I see,” in a bored voice, and walk away. They’ll quit bothering you because you’re not reacting and staying cool and calm and – it makes them look foolish.

Some important life skills for all of us to ponder about.

Community, Mental Health

A note on bullying

Bullying is a terrible thing that leaves permanent scars. Oftentimes, the bully never realise or might not even intend to damage the person so destructively. The following words I think sum up a good attitude to have when faced with dealing with bullies and harrassment.
Humans are the only creatures on this planet that can choose to change their life situation at any moment. A shark can’t one day decide to be a chef. An ant can’t decide it wants to be a dancer. Their lives are built into their DNA.

You, on the other hand, can change if you want to. Oftentimes the only problem is that the fear of change is holding you back. Excuses keep piling up. You only remember the times you failed, and this memory scares you off from trying again. You feel hopelessly stuck in life.

What you need to realize is that life isn’t meant to be a straight line that goes from point A to point B. Life is meant to be a series of zigs and zags. It should look like a mess, but a beautiful mess. It shows that you have changed throughout the course of your life. You’ve had your ups and downs. You went down one path, but decided to change course… perhaps on many occasions.

That’s how life should be. Life is a continuous experience of independent present moments and choices. So whatever situation you are in right now, just know that it can change if you want it to.

It’s up to you. You just have to choose something new.


Australian DJ Royal Prank ends in Nurse’s death. When does a joke go too far? Are Journalists to blame?

TV shows that promote and create entertainment are quite popular. Remember Candid Camera, Prank Patrol and others. It can be fun watching others be fooled, albeit temporarily. Many remember Hugh Jackman being the subject of a serious prank on US TV,  that made him believe he had set his friend’s house on fire by leaving the BBQ alight, and unattended.  Radio jocks and in particular Breakfast DJ’s have almost a mandatory requirement to entertain their listeners by making prank calls during their radio program. Where is the moral or ethical boundary for this behaviour? When does a joke go too far? The prank by two Australian Radio DJ’s has it seemed, sparked a furore over breaches of security for the royal family, patient confidentiality and ethical behaviour in regards to pranking.

Now, the news of the tragic suicide of the Nurse who transferred the call to the ward, has resulted in widespread condemnation for the Australian DJs, and it seems somehow, that many people think that the whole of Australia, as a nation, is to blame. As an Australian, I do not feel responsible, and it touches on a cultural issue. Australian’s don’t take themselves seriously, they mock and tease each other, and like to have a good laugh at ourselves and each other. This is part of our national psyche. It is not malicious, but in other cultures, it could be taken as malicious. If the DJ’s had called a hospital in Australia, this would probably not have happened. I have said before: Humour does not always translate well across cultures and languages, and misinterpretations often occur. The DJ’ got lucky ( or unlucky,as it now seems) as the call was accidentally put through, causing British Home Security to be outraged about security for the Royal family, the Hospital to be embarrassed and the poor victims affected reeling.
This is not what the DJ’s intended at all, and there is now concern for their emotional state. Their jobs and lives will probably be ruined forever. How would one cope knowing that something that was meant to entertain and cause a few smiles, inadvertently contributed to the death of some poor soul?

Then there is the victim herself. I truly feel for the family of this victim, and the Nurse herself, who perhaps felt overwhelming pressure and humiliation from the knee-jerk reactions of a subjective international and British press, who ” could not understand how anyone could fall for such terrible accents. “

Then there is the reaction from the Hospital towards their employees.  I don’t believe for one second that there was no disciplinary action towards either Nurse involved. Having worked as a Nurse, I can say that if I did something similar, I would have been raked over a hell pit of coals, with gaping crocodiles reaching up to take bites out of me. Nursing Supervisor Matrons of old would have torn stripes of me, and made me feel completely worthless.  With the hospital a subject of security breach of the Royal family, and their international reputation tarnished beyond repair, coupled with a potential threat of legal action, I really find it hard to believe that there was NO disciplinary action by the hospital. Rather, I am sure she was made aware very quickly of the consequences of her actions. Having said all that: we may never know what prompted her to take her own life, but extremely important to note is NO lesson has yet been learned, as the same emotional judgements are now directed towards the Australians inciting further rage and condemnation. over the internet.

Is it not the press who should feel responsible for inciting anger and humiliation? Where  is their ethical and moral boundary? They pass on these messages interpreted and biased towards their own viewpoint and experience and values, with little regard for the knock on consequences. My childhood dentist always maintained that journalists were the bane of society, so quick to judge and influence public opinion yet remain immune from the knock on effects. I don’t hear anyone blaming the press – the evil messenger who delivered this message with such high and mighty condemnation.

I am not perfect either. I struggle not to pass judgement on others in my microcosm of society. But I am not an international journalist, and I don’t broadcast every misdemeanour to the world, and yet here I am writing about it on the internet, a forum open to the world, well at least WordPress readers. So I think this is an important article to be really telling of modern society.  As it says:

“For now, the vindictiveness of much of the reaction is perhaps a small measure of just how alienated from our better selves so many of us have become.”

From the Guardian:

‘The late philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in the 50s that if prevailing trends that put economic production before human engagement continued, we would all eventually occupy a dangerously unbalanced society, peopled by alienated individuals living atomised existences, lacking in empathy, quick to judge because judgment by others is always anticipated, equipped with “the greatest material power without the wisdom to use it”. What might halt the march to misery, he argued idealistically in The Sane Society, was sharing experience, living by “love, reason and faith”.

Certainly, in the decades since then, aided more recently by the instant opinionator Twitter, blogs and social networks, our inclination to judge, critique, analyse, blame and scorn, often on the basis of next to no knowledge, has grown incrementally. We are propelled like narcissistic toddlers in a permanent state of tantrum to place ourselves in the centre of the dramas, scandals and terrible tragedies of total strangers. We cannot bear to witness a set of circumstances that remain private and resistant to our obsessive compulsion to know all and pass judgment, no matter what the consequences to the sometimes random recipients of blame.

On Friday, Jacintha “Jess” Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, is believed to have taken her own life. She had been duped by the prank phone call to the King Edward VII hospital, during the time the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient. The call was made by Mel Greig and Michael Christian, two Australian DJs working for 2DayFM in Sydney, pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles. Mrs Saldanha had worked at the hospital as a nurse for four years and was living in its nursing accommodation. A family statement issued on Friday night said: “We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha.”

The hospital has spoken highly of Mrs Saldanha; the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have expressed their regret. However, much else that has been said and done since then displays an alarming lack of perspective and a malevolent desire to exact restitution on a scale that appears to minimise the plight of a family grieving for the loss of a mother, daughter, wife and sister in circumstances nobody yet can know – and may never know.

The two DJs have been threatened and abused on Twitter and accused of having “blood on their hands”. Much joy would be lost to the world if it was calculated every prank could possibly end in tragedy. The two are suspended from their radio station. The post-Leveson press are accused of hounding a woman in such a way that it might have contributed to her death. The hospital says Mrs Saldanha had not been disciplined over the call.

Some suicides do result in valuable lessons being learned and they require behaviour to be changed. A bullied child, say, or the desperate, overlooked mental health needs of a woman, or the death of a father who also kills his children, an act of terrible aggression, impotence and rage. Lessons may yet emerge from Mrs Saldanha’s apparent decision to kill herself, but when and if that should happen, that is the time, if required, for genuine culpability to be accorded. For now, the vindictiveness of much of the reaction is perhaps a small measure of just how alienated from our better selves so many of us have become.’

Journalism can be used for good, but also for bad purposes. The above is an intriguing article, and I am also guilty of judging others, and fight with myself often about what I think, is  this less than desirable trait. Perhaps the lack of instant communication and instant “news” that we have today, contributes to our feeling qualified to pass comment. If we received this “news” by letter four months down the track, would we be so quick to judge, or would time give us more patience and empathy? Time to digest and simmer down our anger, and heal our ragged emotions? Something to ponder about? I will for one, try to learn a lesson here, and refrain from gossiping about others, and consider just what effect my values and bias has in interpreting behaviour. If everyone could do this, even for a little while, then Jacintha’s death will not be in vain and the world will be a less vindictive place.