Monday, October 11, 2010
On Friday, we talked about Fan Mail. It’s Monday. And Monday is a good time to tackle the hard issues. So today we’re addressing a more difficult topic: hate mail.
I’ve written about Dealing With Negative Feedback before. But hate mail is different. Hate mail isn’t constructive, it’s destructive. It’s one thing to disagree with someone. It’s another thing to tear them apart.
Every writer who says something slightly provocative or controversial is a target for hate mail. And hate mail can come in many forms – including blog posts, anononoymous comments, emails, and letters. Hate mail never intends to start a discussion. The goal is to silence.
Let me give you a hypothetical.
Hate-Mail Helen reads Chasing Superwoman, and she thinks I’m evil. She posts on her blog that I’m an unfit mother, declares that I’m not a real “Christian” and she even attacks my children.
Should I respond?
As I see it, here are my options.
1. Ignore Helen. I don’t have to engage. Hate-Mail Helen probably just wants attention. And she doesn’t want to have a dialogue. So I shouldn’t respond. Instead, I can seek support from people I respect and trust. At the end of the day, I don’t answer to Helen.
2. Respond directly. I can also confront Helen. I can call her on the carpet – and I can even take an army of bloggers with me! We can post thoughtful yet pointed comments on her blog. Or I can write her a private email, explaining that I’m really not Evil Mommy (it was just a joke in the book), and she shouldn’t be so judgmental.
3. Respond indirectly. Maybe I won’t post a comment on Helen’s blog. Instead, I’ll write a few of my own posts to address Helen’s comments. I’ll talk about how deep my faith is, and how my kids are really well-adjusted and obedient (at least most of the time). We can even poke some fun at Helen’s comments – just to show how silly they really are.
4. Write a response, but don’t send it. This may be my favorite option. The lawyer in me really wants to respond to Helen. But I know there’s probably no point. I know it’s wrong to strike back. But I really want to have the last word. I want to set the record straight, even if no one will read it.
I’ll have to admit, I really don’t like any of these options. Probably because I really don’t like hate mail.
How would you respond to Hate-Mail Helen?