The Truth About the Blog Supremacists

blog supremacists

Through this blog, I have covered many angles of content creation, strategy, and marketing career issues. But there is one serious topic I have avoided until now.

It took a post from Amber Naslund — Confessions of a Social Media Someone — to make me realize that I am probably doing you a disservice unless I join her and write openly about the dark side of social media success. It is a subject that is always present yet I have ignored it.

In Amber’s honest and brave piece (the hallmark of her style) she admits to nearly being crushed out of existence by the hateful attacks that come with social media celebrity. The relentless bullying crept into her self-dialogue until she suffered from debilitating self-doubt and depression.

Success is a target

Amber is not alone. Although I have not experienced online haters to the extent she has, it is a regular issue for me and many people experiencing success in this public space find themselves under attack at some point.

To be clear, I am not talking about honest criticism. I welcome that as part of the social media experience. I am talking about anonymous (usually), personal, unprofessional attacks.

This is the great enigma of building a powerful online brand. The more you put yourself out there, the more you give, the more you help, the more you attract the attention of trolls.

I’m not a whiner and I fully know how blessed I am to be in a position to help and teach you in some little way through posts, podcasts, and books. I do not ever take that for granted.

I have fun in my career every day but I also know that the more successful I am, the more bullies and trolls I attract. Even though I am a centered person and normally look at these folks with sincere pity (what has happened to a person when they only find joy in disparaging others?) I still find myself spending more and more time deflecting bile from the Blog Supremacists.

A fortress mindset 

We live in a broken world and the social web amplifies human darkness. I know that this is what I have to look forward to: All my efforts to help, mentor, connect, and provide free content every day will result in increasing amounts of toxicity aimed at damaging me and my reputation. Kind of an interesting career choice, isn’t it?

There is plenty of gab out there about “ignoring the haters.” But that strategy is much easier said than done when you are being attacked publicly and privately for no other reason than you have achieved a certain level of popularity.

In Seth Godin’s most recent book he said the reason he does not accept comments on his blog is that he is so thrown off by trolls that when he experiences hateful criticism he can’t focus on anything else. So he simply blocks it out to the extent possible.

Every week I get questions and comments from folks who want to be in my position some day. Of course I am positive and nurturing with my advice but perhaps I have not been completely honest, If you are the type of person who cannot develop a tough mental fortress against hate, you will be suffocated in a career like this.

OK. Enough negativity.

I’m not looking for sympathy and in fact don’t want comments in the comment section in that vein. I just wanted to highlight Amber’s great post and give you an honest glimpse of the secret Troll War you may not normally see.

Onward and upward.

All posts

  • Steve Woodruff

    Quality creates its own gravitational field. You, Amber, and many others attract good and growing people as readers and followers – but, there is plenty of space junk out there that is attracted as well. Ugh. (maybe this theme is fresh on my mind because I just watched the movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney floating around above the earth last night!)

  • Thanks for sharing this, Mark, and for sharing that you’ve had your share of the garbage, too.

    My friend and social media dad pointed out that it’s my self-doubt that’s at issue, not the trolls and the bullies. But the truth is that you can’t really poke at a wound that isn’t already there.

    In other words, the jackasses fan a flame that already exists (my tendency to self-doubt). So yes, the self-doubt is the problem. But just letting people’s ad hominem crap roll off your back is harder when you’re not whole to start with. So the confidence and the self-assuredness is what I’m working on, not tactics to deal with trolls. They’ll take care of themselves when I’ve done the work to ensure that I know my value to begin with.

    But I think even the toughest and most successful people, by our very human nature, suffer from self-doubt and insecurity. Including the people who prey on that in others. So it’s a tricky bit, and it definitely comes with the territory. I remember the days of working in more insulated environments and you had office gossip and such, but nothing like the nature of the web where things are public, fast-moving, and judgment is as easy as a keystroke.

    Thank you so much for lending your voice to this discussion. I feel less alone, and I know others do, too.

  • Junk, yes. But also missiles. : )

    Thanks for commenting Steve!

  • Thanks for the inspiration Amber!

    Self-doubt, perhaps, but there are real business issues at stake too if people are trying to malign a reputation. That is my over-arching concern. I’m a confident person and can deflect the BS but when it starts to creep into the business, that’s when it gets really troubling.

  • Yep, absolutely. And some of the things that have gotten back ’round to me were threatening exactly that. And when you’ve taken down MY capacity to give my business everything I have, something has to change.

  • Kitty Kilian

    Ha, I don’t want anything from you – no guest posts, no compliments, no links. So you can rest assured 😉 But I am very curious – how many of these hateful comments etc do you get? Does it run in the tens or the hundreds per month? And why do they still creep up on you and Amber Naslund and Seth Godin if they’re clearly written by emotionally unbalanced folks? Or by people who hide behind anonimity? And anyway – I would simply hire a VA if I were so famous as to get tons of those, to weed them out for me 😉

  • Kristine Allcroft

    In Germany, they have a word that exemplifies “trolldom”: Schadenfreude or the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. There are those who do take that pleasure seriously – and practice it daily. But, the fact that we don’t have a word for it in English speaks volumes about our culture. We never want to recognize this in our society. We are encouraged from a young age to believe the best about other people. But it is the darker side of humanity, and comes out in blogging and business nonetheless.

  • Agree. To see this in the open, you should delve into the online comment section of some city newspapers. You can easily observe rampant bigotry tight out in the open. These comment sections are often cesspools and yet seemingly reflect the attitude of a group of people out there,

  • Pauline Baird Jones

    Thanks for the post and the link. I read both with deep interest, because authors also come under troll fire. I’ve had a few minor skirmishes (though they didn’t seem minor when they happened — just hearing how bad it could have been…). It can sure be bewildering until you realize it is about them. Truly an important topic to discuss. Amber makes a great point (in the comment below) about self doubt. Being an author comes with that, so I’ve had to learn to deal with my issues and let people deal with theirs. Raising the warning flag is important though. Attacks can come out of left field if you’re not prepared for them.

  • I shared my story that informs my perspective on your Facebook page yesterday, so I will spare another re-telling. But I did find it providential that this quote showed up in my news feed after I read this post:

    “Darkness may be creative, for it is there that God plants his seeds to grow and his bulbs to flower. It is at night that the sheep that are scattered are gathered into the unity of the sheepfold, when the children come home to their mother and the soul back to God. Daylight deceives us, but as we awake at night, we get a new sense of values; darkness seems to tell the awful truth. As the psalmist puts it: ‘Day to day pours forth speech and night to night declares knowledge’ (Ps 19:2). Night has its wonders, as well as day; darkness is not final, except to those who are without God” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

    You could also sum it up with the old idiom that what doesn’t kills us only makes us stronger.”Ignore the trolls” isn’t the best advice because it tells you to ignore reality. It reminds me of Jim Rohn’s re-telling of St. Peter’s Sermon on the day of Pentecost. He explains, “It says some people ‘mocked and laughed.’ Some would look at that and say, ‘They shouldn’t do that!’ But, what else do you expect them to do? They’re the mockers and the laughers.” Which brings to mind another quote of his I love, “The best study of life is how it is. Not how you wish it to be. Not how you wish to rearrange it. But how to take advantage of how it is.”

    Thanks for this post, Mark. It’s fun to read a piece that requires more than a dozen brain cells to think through every now and again. But did you see this post? “This man loves his daughters, but you won’t believe what they had for dinner!” CRAZY!

  • Patricia Haag

    Great points,Mark. In this day and age, I’m amazed that there are so many people who have the time and energy to go about bashing other people online. They must find it fun or something. Maybe they don’t find anything useful in giving an encouraging word to someone. For my part I’ll stick with the old axiom: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.

  • I think self-doubt is one of the toughest barriers to overcome when it comes to writing and blogging, especially for me. The trolls absolutely add to that, and it’s really tough for me to shake at times. This post, and @AmberNaslund:disqus’s, are both inspiring and informing that even those who are doing well in this profession still struggle with these issues. I appreciate the work you two put into keeping the rest of us informed and inspired.

  • It is gut-wrenching enough to put yourself out there as an author without having to suffer through another person’s issues : )

  • You are a gifted writer and thinker and I deeply appreciate the work that went into this superb comment my friend.

  • The irony is that in this amazing age of helpful technology, we now have more tools to hurt people than at any time in history.

  • Thanks Rob.

  • It was a pleasure to comment, as did you, on Amber’s post, even though the topic was a difficult one. My main point was that, if someone needs to tear you down to put themselves up, it is their problem, not yours. Even though it stings, we need to realize that their vitriol or negative comments come from their own place of insecurity or jealousy. We sometimes remember the one stinging comment rather than the hundred wonderful ones, especially when we are high-achievement and service oriented. And I love it when someone says “don’t take this personally”. Like…how would you like me to take it?

    Here’s to supporting one another through thick and thin, and to finding the people to support us when the going gets tough. Heck! Here’s to supporting one another always! Cheers! Kaarina

  • To infinity and beyond Mark! Keep being awesome and ignoring the haters! Thou rocketh my old friend 😉

  • Pauline Baird Jones

    Yes, it is. (wry grin) There have always been book critics, of course, but the level of discourse has definitely deteriorated. Not helped, I will freely admit, by some authors’ responses to critics. But we have to step very lightly out there. Very lightly.

  • Amen. And I realize that for every troll, I have 100 Kaarinas out there!! : )

  • Ha!! Thanks Reza.

  • Well, first of all, I would be happy to help you with any of those things. : )

    This is a fair question but I am struggling with how to respond because I don’t want to call attention to anything in particular to make a situation worse. Similarly, things seem to come in waves (maybe related to a specific post) so I’m not sure about averages. Sometimes it is calm. Sometimes (like last week) I asked my wife out loud why I am even doing this.

    I would say the problems are in two categories. The first are strangers who just want more from me than I can reasonably provide for free or those who erupt in an extreme way over something I wrote. I can assure you that these one-off issues don’t bother me at all. Like I said, I feel sorry for these folks, mostly. I get a couple of these a week maybe?

    The bad ones are the anonymous people who attack in more sinister ways for who know what reasons. I have even experienced the ultimate cowards who pay others to attack my reputation or business to cover their tracks. I really don’t want to discuss specifics unless maybe over a cup of coffee when I visit you in The Netherlands this summer.

    As I said, the web amplifies the dark places out there. Hope that helps.

  • There’ll always be those that are either jealous of others success or, as you mention, have nothing better to do with their time. It always amuses me that most trolls comment anonymously (which, in my opinion, is one reason behind the uproar regarding Google sign in and Yourtube. Did you see the anonymous comments that people used to leave? – total BS).

    It’s a fine line between allowing visitors communication through a website and risking abusive comments, and not allowing that communication and risking alienation (and lack of engagement) of your visitors.

    I really like honest articles like this and Amber’s, there should be more of this type of writing on the net, great work Mark 🙂

  • Kitty Kilian

    Ah, thanks, I did not know it could get that bad. That dark.

    So your first category are unhappy fools, which are everywhere and I have been one of those in the past several times I remember all too well – luckily, fools learn; then there are sociopaths who are often hard to see through online – do you know John Carlton’s famous blog on sociopaths in business? Just google his name and sociopaths and it will come up – and thirdly there seem to be people who want to bring down your business – maybe purely for business reasons.

    I have never heard about the third category in Holland, may be because our market it just so small it does not pay to try it.

    A cup of coffee would be nice, I’ll come up to Amersfoort once I find out where you speak 😉

  • SimplySocialMedia

    Thank you for your post. It appears no matter how big or small you are there are always trolls, users & downright mean people. Thank you for all you do!

  • Thanks Barry. the only thing that saves us from this getting much worse is that Facebook wants people to be themselves. If this new anonymous network takes off, Secret, watch out. Might was well call it the Troll Network. Can you connect with me via email so we can see if our plans might align for a summer UK visit?

  • Thanks for the kind comment.

  • 🙂 Happy dancin’

  • I did read about the new network, I’m not a fan of Facebook generally and Secret sounds like a bad idea.

    Will do (email) 🙂

  • I’m humbled and honored, Mark. Thank you!

    See you in San Diego!!

  • One of my favorite quotes on this comes from author Andrew Robinson: our stature is measured by the enemies we make.

  • A curious world. : )

  • You sent me to Amber’s post.. commented, now I’m back. As I said there, I’ve felt some of this even w/out this kind of success. Success is a target, yet also wielded as a weapon against usurpers like myself b/c ‘how dare I have the nerve to’ dot dot dot. The judgement runs the gamut, always has.. people who are jealous, people who are threatened, people trying to gain the spotlight, trolls acting bad just because they can.

    I’m choosing me above all of it. Even when some criticism may be valid, it is so rarely helpful on ‘how’ to ‘just’ do whatever I ‘should’ be doing. I’m smart and talented, a fine catch for any business doing the hiring; not listening to anyone who says otherwise. No one else is paying my rent or doing the work for me; it’s all me, always has been, always will be. And it’s on me – and all of us – to think before we snark, we judge. H/t to you and @AmberNaslund:disqus for the reminder. FWIW.

  • John

    As a blogger and entrepreneur waist deep in founding a startup publication, I’ve always looked at trolling criticism this way…

    It takes me an opportunity cost of about $200-300 per blog. (Your time is one of your most valuable assets)

    A troll’s comment’s are about .02 cents. in value ( this is a great expression for a reason.)

    So until their rhetoric meets or exceed my costs, I’ll treat a stranger’s .02 cents of limited context on my work as such.

    This is not to say I’m above criticism, it’s to say I’m above poorly vested criticism – There is a huge difference.



  • In other words, Chris Penn welcomes the opportunity to roundhouse kick you in the face.

  • Pamela Calabrese

    I have noticed that those who make a real difference in people’s lives get attacked a lot. This is true especially with powerful ministries.

  • It is not enough to be liked by everyone. You should strive to be liked by the Good, and despised by the Bad.

    — The Right Honorable Sheriff of Lu, Kung Fu Tze.

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