1: A quality or characteristic displayed by a person through the written word that this person would not ordinarily possess. 2: The confrontational attitude exhibited by someone via an anonymous entry to an internet web-page or posting. 3: An attitude demonstrated by someone when they realize that actions taken by them or words written by them across a computer connection will have little, if any, personal repercussions. 4: A false bravery possessed by an individual who does not possess the true quality in person.
I love this definition of keyboard courage.
Sometimes I catch a ball game on the weekends, spend time on my family farm or even book a last minute getaway. But not last weekend. I went to Beautycon for the first time ever.
I’m sure I could use a ton of the products they were selling and demoing, but I personally think the eye shadow would clash with my favorite bowties.
All jokes aside, the event was phenomenal. I was able to spend a few days with some top notch bloggers, you-tubers, content creators and influencers. All of them use the power of social media to share their journey, much like influencers in the corporate world.
As one Beautycon influencer shared the continual backlash of negative comments she would receive on a daily basis in a panel discussion, she was firm in her belief that it’s not worth the time or energy to even respond.
We’ve all been there. I work in media and have gotten the same type of backlash. Somehow a computer screen gives people the courage to act like a complete jackass, yet most of them would never do it in person.
Both in business and our personal lives (which are closer than we want to think), we put ourselves out there using social media of some sort. I’ve even had negative responses on LinkedIn – which is probably the most unlikely place to get those, you know, since recruiters and employers use it regularly to get insight to who you are before hiring.
Opening ourselves up to people we don’t actually know and quite frankly some of whom we have no desire to “get to know,” we often get feedback we don’t like.
Negative comments on Instagram, YouTube or blogs can get downright absurd. Internet trolls get off on posting hateful noise across any social media posts to degrade the original poster and solicit negative responses.
Whether you’re a beauty blogger, a marketing influencer or a content creator in any other industry, you’ll find yourself dealing with trolls. So what do you do about it?
I wasn’t a bit surprised when this same question came up during a panel discussion with Beautycon influencers. Know how they respond to negative comments on social?
Spoiler alert. They don’t.
The common opinion of the Beautycon influencers was that haters gonna hate (inspired by Taylor Swift, I’m sure) and getting wrapped up in their opinions is not doing anything for you in the long run. We all know that misery loves company and the posters only want to stir the pot with their comments.
Don’t let internet hate diminish your efforts.
But most importantly, don’t let the haters get to you. In the famous words of Miss Swift herself, “Shake it off”.
When you are face down on the dirty concrete, laying in a pool of sweat and skank and still bleeding from the impact, what do you do? First thing I recommend – since you have some time to kill (until the buzzards find you), how about reflecting on exactly how you became 3D street graffiti? I don’t mean literally – there had to have been a multi-story plunge off a balcony at some point very recently. I mean what did you do? How did you let your business get so far out of whack that this was the result?
Let’s cue up a soothing smooth jazz soundtrack and ask the experts. Pain is part of growing, they say, so stay positive (if pain is part of growing you’ll be about 40 feet tall in a few minutes). How about this one – those who argue the most accomplish the least. Guess I’m not allowed to argue against that one. Gotta love this too – your scars are a symbol of your strength. If true the Iron Man suit should be a perfect fit after we hose you down a bit. What about every little struggle is a step forward? I guess that’s supposed to be comforting, but should we all go through life screwing up on purpose? And here is the winner of the “Jesus Take the Wheel” Award for most unconvincing abdication of responsibility in a documentary: What’s meant to be is meant to be. This is my all-time least favorite excuse for anything, and anyone who reads me knows why.
Stop! This is all bullshit. Can anyone really say that laying in a pool of blood unable to breathe is a good thing? A teachable moment? Nothing in the preceding paragraph answers the question – how the hell did you let this happen? What did you do? More importantly, who did you fail?
Exactly. The question here is not what you did or didn’t do, but who did you fail. Failing, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The vast majority of baseball players fail more than two out of every three times at the plate. Entrepreneurs launching businesses fail nine out of ten times. One quarter of U.S. Presidents lost at least once before landing the White House. And excuse me as I reach for the Xanax, but it takes tens of thousands of promising compounds to get one effective new drug to market. But the flip side of failure is you learn. You get better at hitting. You learn more effective business practices, smarter reporting, and you meet people that have wisdom you can use. Politicians, after they lose, learn what to say to get elected and start saying it ad nauseam. Big Pharma (and all other pharmas) keep plugging away because the rewards are huge for a winner. Given this argument, even Gordon Gekko might have agreed that failure, for lack of a better word, is good.
So if failure is a normal byproduct of life, why are you lying broken and bloodied on the pavement? It’s who you failed. If you fail at work, hopefully it was because you were being proactive, or trying to improve something. If you fail fixing the front walk, you can always hire a handyman to bail you out. But if you fail friends or family when they are counting on you, it’s like rejection. You rejected them by not holding up your end of the bargain. And rejection can never be undone. Do this a couple of times and you will find yourself alone. And this hurts. A lot.
Those people are your foundation and they are irreplaceable, so keep your priorities straight. There is no excuse for letting their tanks run dry. Attend to their needs regularly and with great care. And listen. Really listen. Remember, they are the angels who will lift you off the pavement when you are laying there helpless. Without them, it’s straight to Hell.
You know me – I don’t shy away from the tough topics. I blog about what I believe and let the chips fall where they may. And oh yes, they do fall. Recently, I have blogged about conquering your fears, creating good luck, battling complacency, indulging your inner schizo – all very helpful topics, doncha think? But these are all traits and skills that can be learned. What if your issue is more nature than nurture? What if the water in your gene pool is a little less than fresh? What if….actually, Fred Sanford said it best in 1973 so I’ll just ask – if you stuck your face in dough, would you make gorilla cookies?
The Truth about Beauty and Success
Studies confirm what we already know – that good looking people have advantages in life. Maybe it’s not fair, but listen up – that’s the way it is. A Princeton study showed that after an interview, an attractive person’s chance of getting a callback is over ten percentage points higher than Fugly Dooright. A hottie of either sex earns, on average, 3-4% more than a nottie every year. Over a career, this compounds to more than $200,000. This is just the tip of the iceberg – attractive people are better at sales, get higher sale prices as realtors, get better performance appraisals, and are generally seen as more valuable to their companies than their less blessed cohorts. And the benefits don’t stop when they leave the office – the lookers also get lighter sentences from juries, are awarded higher damages in suits, and the list goes on. These folks also bask in a phenomenon known as the “halo effect”, where because of one exceptional quality (in this case, looks), they are also perceived to be kinder, more honest, and more talented than others. And until Congress adds “facial symmetry” to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is no law preventing discrimination against unattractive people. Companies can (and do) hire who they believe will perform best, and those with the lucky lineage of above average height, average weight, nice hair and white teeth clearly have an advantage.
Lick a Tic-Tac?
So what’s a non-supermodel to do? If you can’t beat ‘em, do your best to join ‘em. I’m serious – this is a real issue with real economic consequences, and my advice is specific and actionable as always. In my career I have interviewed dozens of job seekers, and based on this (sometimes fragrant) experience, I believe I am qualified to dispense the following fashion tips from the House of Kolb:
#1. Tuck in your (clean and pressed) shirt. Zip your fly and be sure your shoes are clean and shined. I don’t care if you live in a dog park, but you don’t have to prove it on the floor of my office.
#2. Shower and brush your teeth (at least daily). I’m sure Oreos are great with peanut butter – ‘nuff said.
#3. Got hair? Wash it.
#4. Wear clothes that fit.
And because studies consistently show that attractive people are seen as personable, trustworthy and honest, you need to embrace that troika even if it kills you, Crankenstein. Here’s one last parting tidbit in case you’re having a tough time with this topic. During the last recession, a Newsweek study of recruiting managers found over half recommended that prospective employees spend as much time and money polishing their appearance as on polishing their resumes.
Gisele Bundchen said it best, “Always powder your T-zone and the lines going from your nose down around your mouth so you don’t look like a bulldog…”
Thanks, Gisele. What she means is, look the part.
If you don’t, someone else will.
“Madness comes from God, whereas sober sense is merely human.” Plato
This quote from Phaedrus was written almost 2,400 years ago, so the idea that gifted people are cuckoo for cocoa puffs has been around since dirt was a boy. Interestingly, ancient Greece didn’t even have a word for genius – Plato used “madness” to describe how poets produce great work, but the idea is the same. Brilliance in poetry (and later in art, science, literature, etc.) originates from a place not of the “normal” world.
I know what you’re thinking. Is it really possible that only the unbalanced can produce beautiful melodies, elegant designs, or insightful analyses? Not at all – that’s crazy talk. Or is it? As a public service to you, my esteemed readers, I looked it up. And believe it or not, there is a medical explanation. Swedish Professor Fredrik Ullen and others have conducted studies confirming that the number of dopamine receptors in highly creative people is similar to that of schizophrenics. The short version of what this may mean is that creative people are capable of greater divergence of thought than the rest of us due to less filtering in the cognition and reason center of the brain. This could lead to (for example) enhanced problem solving, the ability to see unusual connections and patterns, and the boldness required to act on these in a public way.
So does this explain the Kurt Cobains and Hunter Thompsons and L’Wren Scotts of the world?
It kinda does. But back to my original question – why be crazy if you’re great at what you do? I find it simultaneously sad and ironic that brilliant minds with gifts for all of us decide to close up shop. To me, these people already possess the very qualities that give life its spark. Think about the common refrains of early check-outs – the first is the perception that somehow, the person is alone. And of course, if one is alone, then no one will miss you. A great writer doesn’t need to hide in a dark, smoky attic to create. Today there are countless opportunities to connect with people of similar interests, both online and in person. Take advantage! Join these groups and commiserate. Let people critique your work and critique theirs. Get new ideas – if the theory I’ve described on creativity is true, just think of the potential for explosive, mind-bending brilliance if an entire network of these folks worked together. But most importantly, there is no alone.
The other stereotypical lament is the belief that the person is a burden. I have two problems with this – the first is it doesn’t make sense (how can you be a burden if you’re alone?) But my second problem is resolved by my answer to the first one. Being connected with a group having similar interests means you are being productive and helping others as you help yourself. Rather than being a burden, you are an irreplaceable cog in the machine of mastery, churning out the songs and sonnets that make our synapses fire with joyful abandon. Burden? No. Blessing.
So embrace your creativity and channel it productively. Bounce it off of people for feedback. Share it with people you trust, and do the same for them. You have gifts and the means to use them. Dr. Ullen says it best, “Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box.”
Well put, Doc.