Dealing with Toxic Criticism - The Internet is Not a Place for an Artist.
4 min read

Dealing with Toxic Criticism - The Internet is Not a Place for an Artist.

This article brings together some tips and experiences I gathered to protect myself from the waves of useless, hateful, and non-constructive feedback.
Dealing with Toxic Criticism - The Internet is Not a Place for an Artist.
Photo by Aleksandr Burzinskij from Pexels

The internet is not a place for an artist. Why would I say something like this? During my career, I experienced firsthand a big bunch of negative criticism and hurtful feedback that added nothing but insecurities to my work.

Artists tend to be perfectionists, very sensitive to the way others talk about their work, and very protective about it. Even under the best circumstances, telling an artist something they are proud of is not good enough can sink them into the worst feelings imaginable.

If you provide people with a shameless medium to give artists feedback and don't prepare them to face the repercussions of this, you have a recipe for disaster, and this is what the internet does.

The internet has many incredibly positive facets but providing people with an anonymous way to be mean is not one of them. This article poses one question. What can I do to protect myself from this?

Here are a few tips that will help you fight the negativity surrounding the internet and the game development community.

The other day I published an article on this blog that I'll link below. Needless to say, I received a considerable amount of good comments that I learnt from and added to the bottom of the post, but there's also been anon-constructive feedback for it, which is what I'm going to focus on today.

The Games Industry’s Recruitment Process - My Views on it.
This article is most likely going to be very controversial. I don’t mind putting myself under the radar for this, as I think we have a problem in the games industry for people applying for jobs.

Some of the comments on it say stuff like "Written by a naive person that has never been involved in the hiring process of a company."

I am not going to explain myself here, but a bit of context is good. I have been involved in recruitment processes more than once, and the methods I listed in that article are the ones I follow in a recruitment process and have worked wonderfully for me in the past when being hired.

So what did I do about this? I am not someone that can see bad criticism and accept it just like that. I need to find out why this is being said about my work.

So I got in touch with these people that posted those passive-aggressive comments on a post I made asking for feedback on the article. What I got from it is what I describe as filtered criticism.

The image below describes this concept very well.

Original Photo by Uriel Mont from Pexels - Edited by the author.

Speaking to them, I found out they were trying to prove me wrong. Every opportunity I was giving them to explain why I thought this way was then put under the spotlight. Satirical comments like "Oh, what a luxury!" appeared to describe me trying to be more human about recruitment processes.

So what did I learn from this? I was dealing with someone that was just trying to prove they were right. They didn't like my content because it didn't describe their situations, and their best possible reaction was to play the unfair game of deceit.

This person wasn't trying to help me in any way to improve my work, they just wanted to show me how disgusted they were with my article, and I personally can't find any use in that type of feedback.

I know I can't be liked by everyone, so I know some people will not find my work appealing, but creating that conflict where you confront someone just because you don't like what they are harmlessly doing, and do so by making assumptions and calling names is just tagging yourself as an asshole.

What do we learn from this example?

There are people that aren't interested in making you a better professional. They need to be silenced in your head, as their opinions won't bring any progress to your work.

Just because it's feedback it doesn't mean you have to listen to it. It is your duty to use criticism to make you better, and never to sink yourself further in the sea of insecurities.

Those people don't deserve a space in your head, and listening to them is not going to bring you any good. Ignoring them is the best action to take in this case.

I could continue this article by giving more examples and their solutions, but I think the way I'm ending it will be clearer and more useful to you.

Some people out there can't stand success, truth, and many other positive achievements others will accomplish. While some will hate quietly, others may voice their disconformity. You are the one with the power to detect and understand their intentions and take appropriate actions.

One thing I'd like to note before wrapping this up is that the internet world has a predominant language that not everyone masters. Sometimes, speaking with your critics will help you and them explain their comments.

Most of the time I found out these passive-aggressive tones were nothing but a language barrier. A piece of text doesn't always contain tone, and it's hard to detect other's emotions by reading them.