Feature image by: Diego Diaz

If you’re anything like me you’ve gotten caught up in Internet “debates” through article or Facebook comments. Sometimes it’s healthy. Mostly it’s not. On polemic issues the conversations tend to devolve very quickly, turning into personal attacks. Your reactions are physical: racing heart, elevated blood pressure, tension. Maybe you become consumed by it even when you close the laptop, thinking up responses and comebacks. Maybe it even affects your sleep.

What about when it’s your article where these conversations are happening? As the author, you’re under attack. How do you deal with that? This is a very common question we get from students, and it can be a very difficult thing to work through when you’re just starting out. I still remember how I felt when I first saw my byline up there. I wanted to engage with everyone commenting – acknowledge all the nice things people were saying, respond to disagreements. In the years since, and after much Internet debating, I’ve come to a conclusion: You’re not going to change anyone’s mind. Not any reasonable person’s mind, anyway (although “reasonable” is a relative term…who’s to say what’s reasonable?). We all develop strong beliefs over our lifetimes, rooted in very personal experiences. Sometime’s they’re irrational, and you can’t reason through irrationality, that’s kind of the definition of it. I came to the realization that it’s better to try to understand someone, to try to approach it with some compassion and see why someone might think the way they do. A question I constantly ask myself is: “If I grew up where they did, in the family they did, in the environment they did, would I think any differently?” And the truth is, I don’t know I would. I can’t know.

So what does all this have to do with haters leaving comments on your article? Simply this: Ignore it. Try your best to not let it affect you. Let it go. Understand everyone has their opinions and beliefs, and it’s nothing personal against you. I’ve probably added years to my life by training to restrain myself from joining Internet discussions. I’d rather use that time to connect with people in my community.