In 2012, the Kony 2012 video was at the time the most viral video ever. That’s meant a lot of sudden exposure to the organization behind the video, Invisible Children, and a lot of criticism. Critics have said the video oversimplifies the current state of affairs in Uganda, and there’s also been questions about how the organization/charity spends its money. And there have even been rumors that the video’s creator, Jason Russell, has suffered a mental breakdown due to the criticism the film has received.
“Because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal and Jason took them very hard,” Jason’s wife Danica explained in a statement.
To be fair, Kony 2012 is an extreme example. No one, not even the video’s creators expected, or were prepared for it to receive 80+ million views. But it did, and that’s the funny and amazing thing about creating digital content: You never really know when your message is going to strike a cord and spread like wildfire.
And when that happens, that means your message leaves the ‘safe’ bubble of your devoted friends/family/readers, and a completely new audience is exposed to your content for the first time. And that means YOU are open to criticism as well. When it comes, here’s how to deal with it:
1 – Remember that the criticism is NOT personal. It can’t be personal if it’s coming from Joe Jones in Washington that had never heard of you before he read your post this morning. Even if the criticism is harsh and attacking, it’s aimed at your ideas, not you.
2 – Remember that criticism means your idea is spreading. Receiving criticism on your blog post or video or picture almost always means you’ve struck a cord with someone. And when that happens, your content is more likely to be shared, and that means more people are exposed to it.
3 – Remember that criticism means more debate. Nothing spikes a conversation more than someone jumping into the middle of a comment thread where everyone is agreeing, and saying ‘yeah I think everyone here is full of crap!’ Differing viewpoints breed more interaction and comments. Which feeds back into the above point: It means your idea is spreading.
4 – Remember that how you HANDLE the criticism greatly determines if you will get more or less of it. In the first point I mentioned that the criticism you’ll receive initially isn’t personal. But if you attack your critics, then you open the door for far more criticism. And you also pull the rug out from anyone that was defending you. But if you keep your wits about you and keep the interaction focused on the ideas and not the people, then the chance of receiving further criticism falls dramatically.
5 – Remember that if everyone agrees with your idea, then it’s not reaching enough people. Seriously, if every blog post you ever write is only viewed by your friends and family, you’ll likely never hear a bit of criticism, and you’ll be told every day that you’re the best blogger in the world.
When your idea leaves your safe little bubble, that’s when it begins to make an impact. And I think that’s what most/all of us want. We want to create content that others find value in. We want others to interact with our content, and be moved to action.
We want to make an impact. And making an impact means upsetting some people, and drawing criticism. Accept this, and understand that criticism isn’t a bad thing, it usually means your idea is winning.