Sometimes the publicity you receive is about something totally false. Sometimes it is true, but may be something you are not interested in sharing with the world. If someone knows your secret, they have the capacity to share it without your consent.
What you need to do is decide how you are going to handle the fall-out from this negative publicity. If you handle it correctly it could just blow over. If you don’t, it may haunt you for a very long time.
When it happens
So you wake up after a great sleep and turn on your computer, only to see your secret spread all over the front page of your favorite news service. Or maybe it’s just in an email addressed to all your colleagues and clients. Either way, it feels like getting hit in the stomach with a baseball bat. You look for the sender and find it is someone you know and trust. Your first reaction will be to feel hurt. How could anyone do this to you? You will feel betrayed and alone. You will want to immediately get online and fix the problem. You may think of a million things you could say about the person who is spreading this information or lies. You may want to defend yourself.
Before you respond to this negative attack on you or your ability, take a few deep breaths and try to get centered. It will be difficult to relax, but at the very least, try not to react immediately. Let it sit for a day or two. Go about your daily routine and do your best not to think about it. Don’t gnaw on it and make it worse in your mind. Try not to think of retaliation. You do not want to add fuel to the fire.
Who wrote the negative crap?
Being online you are going to find some people who really like you and some who really don’t. It’s natural. The ones who don’t like you have their own reasons. Maybe they don’t understand you or your writing. Maybe they are in a really bad place in their lives and need an outlet for their stuff and you just happened to be the target of the day. Maybe you told them something that they didn’t want to hear. Whatever it is, it’s about them and not you.
The worst thing you can do is get into a fight with them. The minute you start responding to their negative stuff, you are feeding the fire with your reaction. If you write a response to their letter or post you sound defensive. Defensive people can sound pathetic and petty. If you start throwing dirt at them because of their initial post you are doing the exact same thing they are.
See who wrote about you. What are they going through? Why did they write anything about you in the first place? This may sound trite, but you have to rise above the situation and see it from all sides. Is what they wrote even relevant to your ability as a writer? Take all these things into consideration when thinking about responding to any negative outpouring from anyone online.
Waste any time reacting to this kind of destructive energy. You do not have to defend yourself to anyone. Do not tell your online community that this person is lying and you want a chance to tell the truth. You cannot make people like you. Either they do or they don’t. The more you give the more ammunition they have to fight you with. Don’t give them any. If your community knows you it will stand behind you. If you have to defend yourself to them then it isn’t worth it. Let the situation die down. Even if someone asks you about it, just tell them you have nothing to say about what other people think or write. Responding to questions will only open the wounds and get people talking again.
The boomerang effect
Honestly, there is no easy way to handle this type of situation. No matter what you do you will get criticized for it. Everyone has an opinion and no matter how hard you try to explain a situation it will not get cleared up. They will form their own ideas about how you should have handled it, and then add to the negativity by saying you did it wrong. You basically have a choice of two options: You can either: jump on the dump wagon and get into the fight, feeding the fire with your own fuel. This rarely, if ever, works out. Or, you can let it go, and allow others to draw their own conclusions.
Looky-loos love a disaster
Have you ever noticed when driving by an accident that all the cars slow way down to look at the terrible mess? They are hoping to see some carnage to feed that dark part of themselves. When people spend a lot of time online, working from home, they don’t get to drive by many accidents, so they have to find their bloodshed online. These looky-loos love to see other people suffer. It may be that they are happy not to be the one experiencing pain, or maybe they just like to see others suffer. Whatever the reason, just know that you do not have to participate. Don’t give them anything to look at.
Continue writing and doing your job the best way you know how. Let the angry people have their negativity. They will go through what they need to without you adding to their energy. Your loyal friends and clients will see who you really are and support you through any damaging outbursts from anyone else. Remember to stay in control of your reactions to others online and off. You create your experience.