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It’s never nice to criticize or criticize someone on their social media post Tell them they are doing a wrong exercise (Even if you really think you are right). For men, negative comments like this can be annoying at times. For many women, they are constant. So let’s talk about what you can do about it.

How to spot an asshole comment

Before we dive into the actionable tips, let me take a minute to describe the problem area. An asshole comment is meant to make you feel awful or it may have some vague intent, but you definitely feel awful. These can be comments saying that you are ugly or you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. You can be subtle neglect or downright insults or hate speech. Basically, when you see it, you will know.

I’m sure a few guys are rushing to the comments right now to say I don’t get upset about anything and that a few asshole answers aren’t a big deal and anyone who’s worried needs to get thicker skin. Yes, it would be nice if this was a little problem that is easy to solve. But it is not.

Illustration for article titled How to Handle Negative Comments on Your Training Contributions

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Negative comments and sleazy compliments abound online. If you haven’t seen them, it may be because you are only keeping your content visible to a few trusted friends – a valid choice. Or, what you post may not make people angry. For example, if you are a woman who lifts heavy weights or a fat person who exercises, the fact that you exist will make people mad. They may respond with downright insults, or they may cover up their scorn as a worry that you will be hurt or that you will never find a partner.

And it’s not just sexist comments: there’s a lot of shit racist, fatphobic, transphobic and more. I’ll focus on the sexist ones in this piece, but let’s be clear: everyone deserves to use their body the way they want, including to exercise or play sports. Everyone deserves to share as much or as little as they want with their chosen audience. And nobody deserves toxic junk in their answers. Don’t you like what you see Keep scrolling.

Don’t assume they know what they’re talking about

Outright insults are easy to spot, but negativity often comes in the form of comments about what you’re actually doing. The bench press is cheating, they will say. Or you’re crouching wrong.

When someone gives you unwanted advice, you don’t have to listen to them. You don’t even have to argue – but more on that in a moment. First, try to distinguish good-faith, actually helpful advice from bullshit masquerading as such. (Typically: good faith, helpful advice most likely comes from someone you actually asked.)

Especially if you are new to lifting and have accepted the premise that good form is important, you might be tempted to consider a critical comment as possibly applicable to a truth. If someone tells you you are lifting the wrong way, you might automatically think, “Oh shit, I better figure out how to fix this!”

See, it even happens to me. I’m going to post a deadlift and a concerned troll is going to say something about my round back and I’ll watch my video again to see what they see. I know I held my back I will tell myself, but did you see something I didn’t see?

This is a natural reaction, but try to catch yourself if you react this way. When a comment hits a nerve, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is this a person I would look for their expertise? If you didn’t ask Random No Public Pictures Bro’s advice, why would you take that advice if it was given unsolicited?
  2. Do I actually want a form review? Most of us already know what we’re working on. My coach has been helping me improve my snapshots for over a year by giving me one clue to work on, then another, then another. It’s a process and it works. Even if you want a form check from people online, it does a request to make thoughtful.

Even if you don’t have a trainer, you have the right to take on your own training and decide what to work on and who to seek advice from. If you’re really scared by a troll comment, don’t forget that you can send the video to your trainer or trusted friend to ask, “Hey, am I rounding my back here?”

But please remember that not all advice is good advice. Indeed some of the loudest Answer guys have the worst advice. I’ll never get over the ease with which random fitness brethren tell an elite powerlifter that she isn’t doing a “real” bench press with her back arched or that the sumo deadlift is “cheating”. Sorry folks, the rules allow these two things, and if a competitor lifts in the way that is most beneficial to their body, it would be stupid not to do so. You get points based on how much weight you’ve gained, rather than whether a guy with a blurry profile picture thinks your elevator looked good.

Illustration for article titled How to Handle Negative Comments on Your Training Contributions

In all fairness, a lot of these comments come from a place of jealousy. Angry guys (and they’re not always guys, but honestly, usually guys) will see respectable strength performance from someone who doesn’t look like a “real” lifter to them, and instead of questioning their own prejudices, they become ‘me I’ll look for ways to make myself feel superior Telling you you’re doing it wrong is just their way of causing you to fall and making you feel good. You don’t have to play along.

You don’t have to argue

Okay so you have a bullshit comment and you know it’s bullshit. It may be tempting to tell this troll why they are wrong, but that’s not your only option.

Will you like to argue with them? Will it be worth your time? What is the payout? If the nasty comment is about a post that doesn’t belong to you, replying to it sometimes sends a message to bystanders that unacceptable comments will be answered with a pushback. It’s a tiny thing, but it helps. (Beware, depending on the context, people can pile on you. The world is not fair.)

So let’s talk about some of the other options.

Catharsis can be helpful.

Delete, report, block

If the offensive or unhelpful comment is on your lawn, like a comment on an Instagram post you wrote, the best thing to do is to just delete it.

The troll wants attention, either from others or from you, by making you angry. Deleting the comment will deny them this satisfaction. Also, it will keep your side as an asshole free zone as you might like.

On a forum like Twitter, you can’t delete other people’s Tweets, but you might hide their replies. You can also block them, making it harder for your followers to see what they said and theirs to see you.

I don’t like to mute or hide people when they are idiots. Muting and hiding are only intended when you are satisfied with letting something exist. You just don’t want to see it in person. But if someone is an asshole on my lawn, I want them to be gone, or at least be separated from me. Clear. Block.

If it’s hate speech, or if you think the platform’s reporting system will be on your side, report it.

And if there’s a comment thread that continues to receive responses but you’ve decided to leave your post open, look for a setting (say, “Don’t follow replies” on Facebook) that at least doesn’t let you know notified about it.

Fry them

Sometimes I get mad at a troll and then I get mad at myself for being mad. Why should that person live rent free in my head? In this case, catharsis can be helpful.

You don’t have to involve the terrible person in this matter. Just take a screenshot and bring that screenshot to your most supportive group text so you and your friends can toast the person privately. The social support as a coping strategy is enormous. You will feel less alone and it can help you regain your confidence.

You can always tag on Instagram @ you.look.like.a.man for sexist comments. Strong woman Jessica Fithen who runs the account shares them again and sometimes adds comments. I avoided following the account when I first found out because it can be full of toxic things. But the more I interact with it, the more I appreciate that there is a community of strong women out there making people aware of their bullshit. Fithen estimates that about 90% of the “hateful, unnecessary comments” she highlights are from men; she wrote a blog post here about what she learned from a year and a half.

What if I know the person?

Every now and then people leave comments that they really don’t know are harmful. Sometimes unwanted comments about form review fall into this category. Sometimes overly sexualized compliments also come from a place of ignorance.

If you know the person and want to save the friendship – this is absolutely an optional step – it is worth pointing out what they are doing and why it is harmful.

I once had someone else comment that mine Knee depth was “erotic”. Big, but I could tell from the context that it should be a real compliment. That makes it absolutely wrong, but other than that, he seemed a generally nice person and we had some friends in common. I didn’t block it. But when he did it a second time, I had him ask if he realized he was cutting off as super creepy. He immediately apologized and said he hadn’t thought about it like that and never did it again.

To be very clear, you don’t owe anyone this second chance. It is a gift to give when you feel generous. Otherwise there is a good enough toolkit for deleting, blocking, reporting, ignoring and roasting.