How To Deal with Negativity Online

Bodybuilders in the 90s and early 2000s never had to deal with problems relating to social media because it didn’t exist back then. Their only publicity was through magazines and occasionally television. And it wasn’t just any bodybuilder who was featured in magazines—you had to be among the best of the best to be worthy of such exposure. Magazines and articles, free to portray these bodybuilders in any way they wanted, typically built them up as superheroes. This was a great advantage for top level pro bodybuilders at this time, especially as the sport was on its way up.

Today’s world is much different. Social media—Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube—has taken over a large part of our lives, including the fitness and bodybuilding industry. Many supplement companies, bodybuilding media, and other related businesses have transitioned away from the old ways and now communicate in the digital world. Overall, I think this is great for the growth of our industry. The more people you’re able to reach, the better. It’s also a great way for people to see exactly who you are as an individual if you’re filming your life or posting original content on your social media. True, some content may be all for show (let’s not assume everything online is real), but we now have the control to portray ourselves the way we want—our image lies in our own hands.

One of the disadvantages to having a social media presence, however, is that you will encounter “keyboard warriors.” These are the people behind the screen who write obnoxious comments on other people’s posts for attention or to create a reaction. How should you deal with this? My best advice is to completely ignore it because it's not likely that this person is saying anything truthful. I’ve met many people who originally made negative comments on my posts but wound up being nice in person. When you treat people with respect and forgiveness, you will find that you earn respect and trust. Maybe you can even change their perspective.

So instead of lashing back with a comment or internalizing their criticism, just know that you’re striving to be the best person you can be and that’s all that matters. Confidence builds when you know that you are doing the right thing. Take pride in that. I promise you, people will take notice and you will make a positive impact on those around you. At the end of the day, what others say or think about you is irrelevant. Nobody is perfect, and I’m far from it, but I always strive to do what’s right.

I knew that if I ever wanted to be successful I would have to prepare myself for judgement. I conditioned myself to accept negative remarks without responding back with another negative remark. Don’t fight fire with fire. Kill them with kindness. When you do that, you never know whose life you can change in a positive way. I don’t always succeed in doing this as I sometimes have difficult moments that get the best of me, but these are opportunities for self-development. Just like in the gym, every challenge is an opportunity to become stronger.

Face your challenges head on and take ownership of how you handle them. Everyone can have a good day training in the gym when they’re feeling great. It’s when you’re running low on energy, had a long day at work, feeling stressed, or lacking sleep and you still give your all in the gym that you will grow the most. Similarly, when you come across negativity online, look at it as an opportunity to be the bigger person. If all else fails, do as Arnold says and “ignore the naysayers.”

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