My First Experience with Mean Comments on the Internet

Today I’m sharing a more personal post than usual, and though I feel little uncomfortable/nervous with posting it, I still want to. I had an experience the other day that probably a lot of other people have gone through, and I don’t think I should have to be embarrassed or scared to talk about it. Writing about it also helped make me feel better, so maybe reading this will help someone else who has experienced the same thing to feel better.

For some background info: there’s this website called “get off my internet” where people go to talk about bloggers (mostly in a negative way)…sort of like a celeb gossip site but the bloggers are the celebs. Over the 7-ish years I’ve been blogging I’ve seen bloggers that I follow refer to it every now and then, and it can be pretty mean stuff. Recently a lot of people I follow (Carly, Alaina, Liz, Danielle) have been talking about their experiences with not only that site, but just mean commenters in general on YouTube and Instagram, and how they feel about it. Negative or downright mean comments towards bloggers are a thing I’ve always been aware of, but never had experience with until the other day.

So, a few years ago I did this video home tour with Brit + Co. which they posted on their site. It was fun and exciting but also (for me) really nerve-wracking as I’d never been on camera before. I liked how it came out but of course cringed seeing and hearing myself on camera. Anyway, for some reason it kind of never totally occurred to me that the video was on Youtube in addition to the Brit + Co. site – I mean, I knew, but since I don’t really use YouTube very much I just didn’t think of it and so I’d never thought to check the YouTube comments. Then a few months ago my boyfriend told me about a kind of weird but funny comment he’d seen on the video that made us both laugh. It was about my birdcage (which I no longer have), and how it represents the oppression of birds, etc. I laughed and thought oh I should check and see if there are other comments. Then I totally forgot…until randomly on Monday for some reason I was like oh hey, let me check those comments! And wow. I kind of wish that I hadn’t.

There was one mean comment. Then another. Then another…then another. My jaw literally dropped. I must be naive as hell but it was just the last thing I was expecting. I kept scrolling and it was honestly mean comment after mean comment…with one or two positive ones peppered in (or at least that was my impression in the moment). I was shocked! I had never, ever encountered even one truly mean comment, let alone a spate of them all at once…and especially nothing so personal.

I’ve been blogging for years but since my audience is relatively small and the people who do read are really nice, I guess I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never dealt with negative comments before. I’ve also had my apartment featured on three other major websites and looking back, there was a comment or two that was slightly negative and I remember feeling hurt about it at the time but then just moving on. This felt totally different. YouTube is mean, apparently! This was mean comment after mean comment, not only about my apartment and my style but about me personally and my voice. I guess I don’t even need to say it but wow. It was SO hurtful!

And I know you can’t live your life like that, worrying about what other people are thinking about you, and I guess what makes that easier is that you don’t always have to know what other people are thinking about you! But to see a bunch of mean stuff written out about you, and by strangers…such a weird feeling. Like, do these people realize that you’re a real person, who will see that? And how bad that would make a person feel? While I was scrolling through those comments I was just so surprised and caught off guard, honestly my heart was kind of pounding in my chest, it was this weird kind of panicky feeling. It quickly passed (when I stopped reading), but in the moment it was like a little slap in the face. And I KNOW how overly dramatic that sounds, and trust me like two hours later (after talking to my Mom and my sweet boyfriend), I was totally over it, but in the moment it really stung. And also I did go back later to look more thoroughly and answer the nice comments (I felt guilty I hadn’t seen them because people asked questions about sources and stuff), and I realized that it was about 50% nice and 50% mean in reality, but still!

Going back to the other bloggers and the mean site I was talking about above…of course I’ve always understood how terrible that would be, to have an entire forum dedicated to people talking crap about you – your website, your looks, your mothering skills. But there was a part of me that has always felt, well, it’s obviously all down to jealousy. If you glance at that site for one minute you can see a clear correlation between the success of a blogger and the amount of comments written about them. So a part of me thought, well you can just chalk it up to these people being insanely jealous of your success and your job, so screw them! There was even a part of me that thought, well hey, if I ever got a page on that site the bright side would be I’ll know I’ve really “made it!” Well all I can say now is, easy to say when you’re not on the receiving end of the vitriol! I certainly have a new sympathy and respect for those bloggers who are talked about frequently on that site…I don’t know how they stand it.

By this point in the post (if you’re still reading – thanks!), you’re probably like “what was said about you?!” if you haven’t gone to look already. You can go read the comments on the video if you want – in addition to some mean criticisms about my apartment, the basic gist was that my voice had such bad vocal fry I might as well just never speak again. And ya know what? It reminds me of that old saying, anything mean you want to say to me don’t bother saying it because it won’t be as mean as what I’ve already thought about myself. By which I mean, I know my voice sounded cringe-worthy on that video! I cringed the entire time I watched it! I sounded terrible and uncomfortable because I so nervous doing that video that I can hardly describe. I have an intense hatred of groups of people staring at me (public speaking is literally my worst nightmare),and that’s exactly what this was – a wall of people crammed into my apartment staring at me while I “performed.” Performing to a camera is extremely unnatural and simply not something that I’m good at. I was really, really nervous and uncomfortable, even though the whole crew was nice. It was really not in my “wheelhouse,” but it was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up and I’m glad I didn’t, because aside from my apparently unbearable vocal fry and how badly I feel I “performed” in the video, it was beautifully shot and it’s a nice memento of my old apartment.

And it’s easy to say about bloggers and whoever else, celebs and such, “well they put themselves out there so that’s the price you pay for being in the public eye.” I never really got on board with that but I can tell you now that that doesn’t make it any less hurtful when people are talking about how much you suck.

Again I want to reiterate how much, after having some time to process, I feel that this post may come off totally histrionic and over the top – I know it’s not the biggest deal and other bloggers or just people in general deal with so much worse and so many more mean comments. I just wanted to share my own experience and the fact that I definitely have a new perspective on how much mean comments can hurt. I’m not saying I’m some perfect human…like everyone out there, I obviously have negative thoughts sometimes and certainly get jealous feelings, or someone I follow will start to get on my nerves, and what I do is just unfollow. The weird thing to me is that the people who commented on the video aren’t even regular followers of mine, they were I guess maybe followers of Brit + Co?..or just random YouTube users. Why you would feel the need to take time out of your day to leave a mean comment about someone’s voice or some other personal thing on a random YouTube video is beyond me. Sure, you might think it. But why the need to write it down where the person will see it? I guess like my mom said, consider the source (and yes, I still go running to my mom when people are mean to me, hah). I don’t know these people but I guess I should feel bad for them if leaving random mean comments on YouTube videos is the best thing they have to do with their time.

Anyway, I truly believe that everyone reading here probably doesn’t leave nasty comments on the Internet, but I just want to say that if you have or you want to, think twice and just unfollow. Go tell the nasty comment to a friend if you want…but don’t write it down for the person to see. I know they may seem like just a random Internet persona but that’s a real person with feelings, and no matter how much money they have or how pretty they are or how great their life looks, they still have feelings and it still hurts. You simply never know what’s going on behind the scenes in someone’s life. Luckily I’m in a good place in my life right now but there were times in the past where if I’d seen those comments, it could have really made me feel a lot worse than it did now. So if there’s one takeaway I can offer, it’s to always remember that: you just don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, so why try to make someone feel worse?

Anyway, thanks for reading this rambling post if you made it to the end, and if you’d like to share your thoughts in the comments I’d love to hear (only if they’re nice though!…just kidding ;).

first photo by Anita Austvika, second by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Leave a Comment

  1. Bottom line, mean comments hurt. Whether there is one or a one hundred. I (obviously) have times where it affects me more than others, but you do strangely get used to it. However, it makes me feel so much better because I’ve NEVER had someone say something to me in person. It truly is an “internet-only” issue. Still sucks though, sorry you found/read those comments!

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      I think the people who leave these types of comments would never have the guts or really I should say the social ineptitude to say these types of things to someone’s face! Thanks for being sweet Carly – I’m sorry you have to deal with this crap times 1,000! xo

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  2. Andrew wrote:

    A long time ago, I said something very dumb to a teacher/coach, as a very immature teenager, who responded without looking at me, “consider the source”. I’ve never forgotten that subtle but effective put down. Jackie-consider the source and never worry about mean, petty comments again. They simply do not matter.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      We all certainly say things we regret, especially when we’re young and dumb. Now we’re older and wiser :). Consider the source is always the best rebuttal and you’re right…petty mean comments simply do not matter.

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  3. RMF wrote:

    Mean comments say far more about the person who left them than they do about you. There are a lot of bored, rude, bitter, jealous and angry viewers out there; much easier to take swipes at you than to examine and repair their own lives.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      You’re completely right – mean comments come from a place of unhappiness. I know from my own experience…when I’m feeling good and happy it’s a lot easier to be nice, and when I’m feeling down or unhappy it’s more easy to be negative. It is simply sad that someone would get some kind of pleasure from writing mean things about a person on the Internet…with some perspective I really do just feel sorry for those people. Thanks for being kind!

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  4. Julianna Mathers wrote:

    The video was lovely! Your apartment was lovely! Your voice was fine! I think it’s petty to pick on something like that. The video wasn’t even about vocal talents. It was about interiors and your interior was beautifully done. Ignore the haters sweetheart! You keep doing your thing! I once had a wise person tell me, “opinions are like assholes, everybody has one!”

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Julianna thank you so much for being so sweet! Agreed, online commenters should realize that not every opinion needs to be shared…especially the mean ones!

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • John wrote:

      We cannot ask or tell people what to do or what not to do. Nor can we worry about them or speak badly about them, then how are we any different them them? We can and must practice looking into ourselves and make sure we are not hurting anyone along the way. Bringing more awareness and peace to how we could have done the same and not even realize.

      Published 10.5.18 · Reply
  5. Maria Hunt wrote:

    I’m sorry this happened, but today trolls are just a part of posting any content online. Even on sites with very affluent or educated communities, the pettiness and mean comments are shocking.

    Most of them aren’t creating or doing what they want in life. When they see you going for your dreams, they feel more inadequate so they have to take back some power by being mean. As if that improved their life.

    When stuff like this happens, try remembering “hurt people hurt people” and move on. You are one if the only blogs I subscribe to because your work is 💯

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Everything you said rings so true. People who are down are more likely to lash out, and I think this is a perfect sort of small example of that. Instead of my feelings being hurt I should just feel sympathy towards sad people. Thank you for being so kind and supportive!

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  6. Sydney85 wrote:

    Sorry that you had a bad experience.
    I guess people have forgotten the saying “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing”. I do worry about the lack of kindness in the world and then I realize it is only a small percentage and remember all the good people.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Right?! So simple. If you have a negative opinion and you can’t turn it into a constructive piece of feedback, best to keep it to yourself! It is a small percentage of people who are like this – I think the Internet just magnifies them. I’ve met so many lovely people through blogging and I’m grateful for that!

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  7. Your feelings are so valid!!!! It is hurtful and it really can feel like a sucker punch to the gut when you first read those comments. I will say I thought you sounded absolutely great in that video and I think people harping on vocal fry is actually pretty sexist! So eff them. It’s a great video.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Exactly -it totally felt like a punch in the gut! I agree, vocal fry criticism IS sexist! It’s always referring to a woman who talks in a “Valley Girl” kind of voice and it’s like, some people just have that intonation. I totally agree that it is very sexist! Thank you for being so kind Diana!

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  8. A.B. Monk wrote:

    I”m sorry that happened to you. I’ve followed your blog ever since your Apartment Therapy house tour and I really enjoyed your video tour as well. If it helps, I don’t remember anything objectionable about your voice at all. I just remember you had a beautiful apartment.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Thank you so much – that is such a kind thing to say and it really means a lot to me!

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  9. Nina wrote:

    This post is so honest and you should feel great that you were able to turn to your supporters/followers to share how these comments made you feel! Being vulnerable is so much more “real” than a lot of the posts we see on social media that seem to curate these perfect lives. Thank you for sharing.

    For the record, I had never seen the video you’re referencing and read some of the comments prior to watching. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I didn’t find your voice cringe-worthy AT ALL! I found the tips so useful, and it was a quick and easy video without any criticisms from me! 🙂

    Keep doing what you love and your followers will support you! It’s so easy to be nasty behind a computer screen but as you said – consider the source!

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      I’m so glad you appreciated the post Nina! A part of me felt like “why am I sharing this and making myself so vulnerable?”…but I know that when I read someone else’s blog or article where they open up, it resonates with me, so I’m glad that I did and that it resonated with you. And THANK YOU for your kind words on the video! That means the world to me and especially to hear that you found the tips useful. So I’m glad I did it despite the haters! 🙂

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  10. People hiding behind computers can be so mean for no reason! I don’t even know why they waste their time. I watched the video and your old apartment was so cute! I love it. No idea what vocal fry even is! Some people clearly have nothing better to do with their time.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Thanks Krystal! People are bored and for some reason they find it fun to be mean? I don’t get it but like you said, if they have nothing better to do with their time that’s their own problem! That’s been my newfound perspective on it once I got over my shock and indignation 🙂 I appreciate you being so sweet!

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  11. Jackie, Bravo for writing this post. You are such a talented, strong, and inspiring woman. Never ever let anyone take that away from you! So proud of you my friend! xoxo c.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Christina, you’re so supportive and such a good person – I’m so lucky to know someone as kind and talented as you! xoxo

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  12. Kim wrote:

    It would bother me too but I always feel those that leave comments like that are miserable in their own lives. I have never understood why someone would waste their time reading or watching something they didn’t like and then waste more time commenting. I thought the video was great! Ignore the haters.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Kim, you’re so right…at first it bothered me but now I’m like, these people must have lives that are at least in some capacity, kind of sad and miserable. A person with a good and happy life and a good character just probably wouldn’t do something like that. I’m so glad you liked the video! Ignoring all haters from here on out! xoxo

      Published 10.3.18 · Reply
  13. Janae wrote:

    “Sure, you might think it. But why the need to write it down where the person will see it?”

    I completely agree! I had never heard of that “get off my internet” blog before, but it is amazing to me that people would spend so much of their life talking about other people in a deprecating manner. I mean, why can’t they just ignore it if it bothers them? It makes no sense to me.

    I want to let you know I loved that video, and it was one of the first things I encountered on your blog, which made me a frequent reader! Don’t let the haters get you down. 🙂

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Thank you so much Janae! I think these people get entertainment out of writing disparaging things about bloggers, it’s kind of sad really. I’m so glad you liked the video and and I’m happy it brought you to the blog! xoxo

      Published 10.6.18 · Reply
  14. Patty wrote:

    Jackie, I am so sorry to hear this happened and think you are a strong person. I have followed your blog since your Houzz tour. I don’t plan to check out the site you mentioned and just want to send my support because I am glad you wrote the post. You are talented and smart. I like your apartment and your writing voice, appreciate that you know what you like, value that you are continually in learning mode, admire how you juggle your job and blogging, and think you take gorgeous photographs. Thank you for all you have given me by bringing new designers to my attention. I really liked your interview about your job awhile back and also the behind-the-scenes look at your studio photo shoot. With thanks.

    Published 10.3.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      I really appreciate you taking the time to reach out with such a kind and lovely comment. Your support and loyal readership means so much to me – thank you!!

      Published 10.6.18 · Reply
  15. Stephanie J Prigione wrote:

    I love your blog I follow it faithfully! Don’t listen to those awful people. They’re not important at all what matters is what you think and feel. Keep doing what you’re doing! You’re awesome!!

    Published 10.4.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Thank you so much Stephanie! So sweet of you 🙂

      Published 10.6.18 · Reply
  16. Virginia wrote:

    I’m sorry you had to deal with that and appreciate you sharing about the experience! I really enjoy your blog and have been introduced to so many great books thank to your recommendations (I learned about Tana French thanks to your blog, so for that alone I owe you big time…am eagerly awaiting her new book!). You are talented and thoughtful…don’t let the internet meanies get you down!

    Published 10.5.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Thank you Virginia! That makes me SO happy, thank you for telling me! Clearly I worship at the altar of Tana French and to know that I introduced her to someone else thrills me – I want everyone to read her books! And same, I am SO excited for her new one. Stephen King is reviewing it in the NYT Books section this weekend, can’t wait to read that too :). Thank you Virginia!

      Published 10.6.18 · Reply
  17. Meghan wrote:

    You’re brave to write this post! And I 100% know the panicky feeling you describe. When I’ve gotten mean comments my heart too begins to race and I can feel my face getting red. It is so hard to not internalize these mean comments but it also is an opportunity to remind yourself of the amazing people you have surrounding you – the mean commenters don’t have that. They have too much time on their hands and too much sadness with their own life

    Published 10.5.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      That means a lot to me, Meghan – thank you! I agree, I’ve met so many nice and wonderful people through blogging and I’m really grateful for that! It’s such a weird feeling at first to see comments like that but then pretty quickly I did realize what you said – these people are clearly not in a great place in life if this is how they get entertainment.

      Published 10.6.18 · Reply
  18. Elizabeth wrote:

    You’re adorable; I check your blog most weekends. 🙂

    Published 10.5.18 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      Thanks so much for reading!

      Published 10.6.18 · Reply
  19. April wrote:

    That sucks. Anyone who posts mean shit about someone over the Internet is not someone who is living their best or happiest life.

    Bottom line, if you wouldn’t have the nerve to say something to the person’s face, you have no business writing it on the web.

    Published 10.6.18 · Reply