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Dealing with Negative Criticism from the Netizens

Haters gonna hate


A Controversial Blog Post

A few days ago, I wrote a blog entry over on My Life! Teaching in a Korean University called, Korean University Jobs: The Golden Handcuffs. Basically, I said that while university jobs in Korea are quite lucrative, they’re also not a great long-term choice for quite a few reasons. I posted the blog to a few of the English teacher in Korea Facebook groups and the reaction was strong to say the least. It was more like I had personally attacked people’s whole life and career choices, despite the blog post only really talking about my own reasons for leaving Korea to return to Canada.

People that Loved it, Loved it. People that Hated it, Hated it

It struck a nerve and people seemed to either love it, or hate it. I was encouraged by the fact that the positive comments and PMs outnumbered the negative ones by a ratio of about 2:1. However, the people that were mean, were mean, really mean. And I actually found it quite hard to believe that they were willing to put their name to their personal attacks on Facebook-the Korean ESL world is a small one and stuff like that gets around. But, to each their own I guess and I just know that in today’s world, I’d never make a personal attack that like publicly, ever.

Negative Criticism is a Good Thing!

I tried to look at the whole thing optimistically and for the most part, succeeded in dealing with the negative criticism. I credit Pat Flynn and this podcast, Ask Pat Episode 325: Should I Respond to Negative Comments almost entirely. Pat basically says that if you’re not getting negative criticism, you’re not being bold enough and if you’re not bold enough, you’ll simple fade into anonymity and oblivion, which will get you nowhere in the online business world. The post I wrote got 4000+ hits in a single day, and almost 2000 the next day, more traffic than that site has ever had so it was an excellent way to introduce myself to a whole new audience since the blog is only a couple months old.

Haters Mean Nothing to Me

I knew as I was writing the post that plenty of people were going to be offended, but also that a whole lot of people were going to resonate with it and I could, perhaps, put into words a feeling that a lot of other people had. And I was okay with that. The people that hated it are not those who are ever going to sign-up for email list, buy my book or want to connect with me in any way whatsoever on a personal level. They’re not the ones I care about, especially the people who responded with what seemed like pure anger. If someone had made a really negative, yet well-thought out response that didn’t veer into the personal attacks and things that simply aren’t true, I would have taken it far more seriously.

English teachers in Korea seem to have their own special hate thing going on for anyone to tries to be successful doing something besides teaching. For example, a few expats have started up businesses selling hummus or burritos and people have gotten their hate on, saying that you can just buy the ingredients at Costco and make it yourself. Or, others have started up food or restaurant tours, and people have been haters, saying that they’re only catering to naive tourists. Others have started websites that compile information that’s freely available around the web, but organized it in a way that will save a ton of time and they’ve experienced the wrath of their fellow teachers. What I’m saying is that teachers in Korea are their own special breed and I’ve learned over the years that I need to take their criticism with a massive dose of salt because they seem to criticize just about anybody who is not exactly like them.

The People I do Care About
The ones that I do care about are the people who took the time to send me some very personal emails or Facebook private messages telling me their own stories and how they felt the same way I did, but felt like maybe they were a little bit crazy for feeling that way.

They said things like, “Dead on.” “I feel exactly the same way.” “You described my own experience perfectly.” “The best post I’ve ever seen about what it’s really like teaching in a Korean university.”

These are the people who signed-up for my list, subscribed to my blog, bought a book. And most importantly, reached out to make a personal connection with me. They’re the ones I want to serve, that will hopefully follow me for the long-term.

Controversial blog post: success! Now, just need some inspiration for the next one.





  1. Nicely said. Remember what Omar said in The Wire, “that’s the game, yo.”

  2. So, I understand the feeling of generating loads of page views and comments on a controversial post. Trust me, as someone who has had numerous posts with 100k uniques on an environmental news site… Things can get heated. I believe the trick is to treat people with respect (which you generally do very well), but also to realize that some posts may be a slap in the face to some of your readers. I might try to more heavily moderate these posts with an alternate pov or a sense of humorous humility that mollify the readers who might be offended. You will always get negative reactions, and sometimes for unexpected reasons. Take to heart only what helps you grow as a writer and a person. #mytwocents humbly submitted for you to take or leave as you like. 🙂

    • Thanks Gavin, I really appreciated your comment! Yes, I am learning as I go along in building my Internet empire and these past few months have been all about not responding in anger when people respond to me that way. Deflecting, joking, not taking it too seriously. Next step-include more alternative POVs in my posts, like you mentioned.

  3. “English teachers in Korea seem to have their own special hate thing going on for anyone to tries to be successful doing something besides teaching. ”

    That’s a very true statement. In fact, beyond everything you mentioned in your Golden Handcuffs article – another reason to get on out of here is to distance oneself from the “quality” of expats around these parts. Good ones are few and far between, so much so, that I, a self proclaimed optimist have just stopped looking or caring. Life is just too short. You’re on a great path with a fantastic plan – looking forward to seeing how your move home goes!

    • Thanks so much for your very kind comment. I certainly appreciate it! Yes, it’s not easy to find the other motivated, smart expats in Korea who are trying to make awesome things happen for themselves.

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