How to Deal with Negative Comments About Your Art or Crafts on Social Media
Like a lot of artists, designers, and crafters today, I share photos and tutorials of my art and craft projects on social media. I get ideas and inspiration from seeing other projects on Pinterest, Craftgawker, or Ravelry, and enjoying sharing my pieces with like-minded and creative people.
So a few weeks ago, I posted a photo of one of my recently completed crafts on my Facebook page. Two of my friends, people I have known in real life for over 20 years, left some negative comments. I was surprised by their comments and really hurt.
I've received mean or negative comments about my crafts before. Some times these comments are from complete strangers, some are from people I know somewhat through craft sites. But these comments always leave me feeling hurt and a little beaten up.
People will say that by posting your personal art to the world wide web, you are leaving yourself open to criticism. That you should either grow a thicker skin, or not share your work online. This is probably true, but I don't think I would ever say anything negative about some else's art or crafts on the internet. If I don't like something or think it is poorly crafted, I just move on and look at something else. So why do people leave mean or negative comments about other people's art on social media? And what, if anything, should you do in response?
They Think They're Helping You By Being Honest
Some people may leave what seems like mean comments, but are honestly meant as constructive criticism or helpful advice. This is fine if the artist has asked for feedback. I have a friend who often posts his paintings in progress to Facebook and asks for input. But if you have posted your finished project to a site to share it, then these constructive comments often seem poorly timed and misplaced. After you've put a lot of hard work and creative energy in to completing something, then share it with pride, it can be very hurtful to have others make suggestions and give critiques, particularly after you feel the piece is finished.
What to do in response: Delete or ignore their comments. To tell these people that they have hurt your feelings by leaving these comments, or that you don't want their input, would only hurt their feelings, and make them feel as bad as you do. It's not easy, but it is better to take the high road and say nothing.
I must admit that after reading my friends' comments, I sat there for a little while thinking about the mean things I could send back to them. But I didn't really want them to feel bad like I did. And their comments were not worth potentially ruining our friendship over.
They Might Be Trying to Be Funny
Often times, people leave comments on social media, thinking they're being funny. I had a woman once compare one of my Christmas crafts to a cat's scratching post. I did not find it funny at all.
Most of us know from experience that implied humor just doesn't come through on the internet. These "funny" comments often come off as weird or cruel. And adding a smiley face to the end of your comments doesn't always help clarify your intent.
What to do in response: Delete or ignore it. If you try to respond, you may add to the confusion or misunderstanding. The person who left the comment might now take offense and retaliate. Or they might try to clarify their original intent, leaving you both upset and embarrassed.
It Might Be an Honest Misunderstanding
Weird things happen on social media. People think they're commenting on one thing, but they've left their comments on another page or under someone else's project. Or they don't read the information about the item they're commenting on. Or, even worse, they assume they know how something is made or what it is intended for and leave a comment that doesn't really relate to your artwork or craft.
This is careless of the person leaving the comment. But it could stem from a lack of computer skills or not knowing how to navigate on the social media site. Or, as sometimes happens, it could be a weird glitch where comments are showing up with your project that are really meant for another piece.
What to do in response: Generally, I would suggest deleting or ignoring their comments. If you can't delete the comment, you may want to clarify any misunderstanding if you think it detracts from your artwork or hurts your reputation. For instance, if someone leaves a comment, thinking your piece is from a clay mold but it's really a hand carved piece of wood. But if you go into a long explanation, pointing out where they are mistaken about your artwork, you may just draw more attention to their comment. Other people may not bother to read your rebuttal.
They're Using Your Posting to Draw Attention to Their Own Work
I get a lot of comments like this. People say things like, "I made something like this, but I used blue instead of green," or "I made something just like this. You can find mine at..." or "I saw something like this for sale at this store." These comments never serve to enrich any conversation about your artwork. Instead the person leaving these types of comments wants to draw the viewer to their art, or at least establish themselves as the expert on this type of item or art. Sadly, they are looking for attention at your expense.
What to do in response: The best thing to do is delete their comment. If you can't delete it, then ignore it. As above, to respond would just draw more attention to their comment, and getting attention was all they wanted in the first place.
Some Some People Just Want to Spread Negativity Across the Internet
The web seems to have created a population of faceless strangers who enjoy spreading negativity across the internet. I'm sure psychological studies have been done about this behavior. Whether these people are jealous, unhappy with some aspect of their lives, or just get some thrill out of being mean, negative commenters seem to pop up on every social media site. For some reason, the anonymity of the internet gives these commenters the false boldness to post things they would never say in real life.
What to do in response: Delete their comments.Their comments reflect more on the type of person they are, than on your artwork. If you can't delete their comments, then ignore them. To respond would let them know that they've hurt you in some way (which is what they want). You might also get into a war of words with them that could get you both kicked off the site. Their negativity is not worth ruining your own reputation.
Other Tactics to Deal with Negative Comments
If negative comments begin to really bother you, or if there is a person who persistently leaves mean comments, there are other steps to take:
- You can moderate your comments: most sites allow you to moderate your comments so you can hide or delete those comments you don't want to show. If the site you are on does not allow for this, you might want to contact the site and suggest it.
- You can mark these comments as inappropriate: almost all sites have some way to flag comments as inappropriate content. If a commenter is repeatedly reported for inappropriate behavior, they are usually kicked off the site or lose their ability to leave comments.
- You can delete your posted artwork: sometimes the most subtle way to deal with mean comments, particularly if they are overwhelmingly negative, is to simply delete your post. Then come back to the site and share something your really proud of and that people will love.
Copyright © 2016 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.