The Type Of Person Who Takes Random Things On The Internet Personally

“This was mean.”

“That was insulting.”

“Well, that was the rudest e-mail I’ve ever gotten. I’m unsubscribing.”

To say something I wrote recently upset some people would be … correct. (You thought I was going to write, “would be an understatement,” didn’t you?!)

If you take things that come from a website or e-mail list personally then you are being, for lack of a better term, an idiot.

At a certain point in life it’s time to man up. (For some of us it takes quite a while.)

If a guy you don’t know can write something on the internet that’s not directed at you and you take personal offense to it this is what you need to do:

  1. Get a life.
  2. See #1.

It will instantly help you become unoffendable.

When you have a life things random people like me say on the internet don’t offend you.

Sometimes I get unsubscribes and people tell me why they unsubscribed. (It’s an option in Aweber to share why you unsubscribed from an e-mail list.)

Sometimes that reason is, “you don’t write as well as you used to” or “your recent writing sucks compared to the stuff you did on RidiculouslyExtraordinary.” My initial reaction is something along the lines of “ooohhhh, ouch!” But that’s followed by, “Who is this random person anyway? Nobody. They don’t matter to me.” Random people can’t offend me. Though they can trigger that initial “ouch” reaction.


Who am I kidding? I’m lying to myself. A little. There’s a drastic difference between random insults and direct insults. I don’t deal well with direct insults, no matter where they come from. They instantly depress me, take me back to my younger days, and I immediately want to get some kind of terrible revenge. I think vile, destructive, thoughts on par with Patrick Bateman.

I read a 1-star review for Gratitude Journal yesterday and had thoughts of disassembling an iPhone by way of that reviewer’s sphincter. His review essentially said, “I like simple, but this is too simple.” Really? I’ll show you simple …

I’ve learned the best way to deal with emotions is to let them emote. Trying to suppress bouts of depression or hatred only magnifies them. There’s probably a pharmaceutical-company-backed study about that. Wouldn’t that be an innovative pill? Something that suppreses your feelings instead of letting them naturally run their course? Wait, I think a few dozen-million people already take those pills. Maybe they’re not so good after all. /tangent

After an undetermined length of time I finally get on with the,”This person doesn’t matter to me” self-talk. Which actually works. Though it depends on the insult. If it’s something I’m confident about I can get over it in seconds. If it’s something I’m not confident about the feelings of vitriol will linger for a while longer. A few minutes, an hour, a day. Though a day is a rare occurrence. I don’t care enough – we’ll get to that in a second – to hold a grudge for long.

Let’s get back on track.

This blog isn’t like a lot of others. I write for myself. It’s not for your entertainment or your benefit. That’s all ancillary and I love it, but if I didn’t write I’d go insane. I think some people just say that, but sometimes I’m afraid I would kill a man if the thoughts and ideas swirling around my brain weren’t afforded an outlet.

I almost think I wrote that last paragraph to convince myself. But actions speak volumes and in the year I’ve moved my writing here I haven’t done anything to directly grow readership. Growth has been consistent, but slow. (This year I’ve sent guest post pitches for the first time since 2011, but it’s more for the app business than this blog.)

Most of the things I write you will never read – probably because it’s the worst – but it’s fun to post publicly and get feedback. It’s easier to improve when you’re being judged.

You understand what that means, right? It means I don’t care about you. I care about myself. Which sounds really selfish, but you only care about yourself as well.

Before I get the “no! but, but, but” responses, if you care about your son, daughter, mother, father, girlfriend, cat that still means you care only about yourself. Those are all selfish things to care about.

Things I care about, in no particular order:

  • Food
  • Sex
  • Family
  • My girlfriend
  • Friends
  • Learning
  • Money
  • Sleep
  • Kitties

These are the things I think about in some way or another, without fail, every single day. That stuff’s all about me. “You” isn’t on the list.

Seth Godin says, “The goal of a blog is to help you reach your goals.” It’s true. Blogging has positively affected my life like nothing else I’ve ever done, but I don’t use it specifically for reaching my goals. I use this blog and e-mail list as, among other things, a testing ground. (Which happily results in filtering out readers I don’t want.)

“I wonder what would happen if I wrote ‘[!firstname], you suck at goal setting‘ instead of ‘do you suck at goal setting?’ as an e-mail subject.” One headline elicits a gut reaction (result: e-mail gets opened and read; I get more unsubscribes). The other headline is ignorable.

That said, in that particular instance (which prompted this whole essay) I didn’t think much about it and didn’t realize it would be taken as a direct insult. I figured most people knew the name insertion was computerized. It’s fake. I have to actually know you to know if you suck at something and I don’t know most people who read this site. (Maybe one day?)

I know a lot of people who enjoy my work get it that I like to experiment. You understand life is an experiment. I’m not afraid to fail with these experiments, whatever they happen to be. I make lots of mistakes.

If you’re still reading this I probably like you and have a feeling you’re cool. Also, what I said above about not caring about you? That wasn’t entirely true. (I was kind of fishing for more unsubscribes.)

  • When you write me page long e-mails about about something I wrote and you connected with do I like to read it? Yes, I appreciate it very much.
  • When you write me with a question or a problem do I try to help? Yes, if it’s something I can actually help with I love to help.
  • When you ask my opinion am I not flattered? I’m definitely flattered you think I have something to offer.

Whether this site has 2 million readers (not yet), 2,000 readers (thanks y’all) or 2 readers (hi Mom) I’ll keep creating. I’ll keep shipping. I’ll keep doing what I do. If you understand what this is all about then thank you, you’re always welcome here.

36 Responses to The Type Of Person Who Takes Random Things On The Internet Personally

  1. I love this – I could talk about this stuff all day. Especially the bit about people getting offended. Please watch this video – Steve Hughes has a wonderful rant about not taking responsibility for yourself (initially) and then on being offended:
    You’ve also reminded me NOT to try to appeal to everyone with a vaguely played down blog… I need my own edge, and I’ve been lame, trying not to piss anyone off.

    Thanks for the reminder Karol!

    Oh, and getting that email with ‘Mariska, you suck at goal setting’ was awesome -it got my attention, and made me smile. In the immortal words of Chopper Read, some people need to harden the fuck up:

    I think my work here in this comments section is done.

      • Interesting observation. Though after writing and posting this, I feel like I get it a little better. Not necessarily for a blog post, but definitely for an e-mail with a first name inserted. So yes, it’s ego on the commenter’s part, but it’s also ego on my part.

      • I just got several of those on Financial Samurai this week on my post, “Your Weight Is Not Your Fault.” Fit people were offended by my assumption of genetics being a majority determinant of weight, and I was writing a post to encourage those who are trying to get fit to not feel so bad. The post wasn’t written for fit people, yet they got offended! I was like WTF? You should check out some of the 80 comments. Hilarious.


    • It’s definitely not a good idea to try to appeal to everyone. Assuming it could be done, ok cool. But nobody has ever done it, and nobody ever will.

      Thanks for the links.

  2. My only comment is, I LOVE THOSE KITTY PHOTOS. You put them there just for me. I know you did. It’s all about me. Don’t tell yourself otherwise. ;-)

  3. I’m finding that I’m surrounding myself with more people who care about themselves. Which is the point. And it *is* selfish. Which is the point. I think part of our mission in life is to be the best person we can be. We can’t do that until we learn to love ourselves and know that we’re worth the work. Anyway, I’ll jump off my soapbox for now, but yea, I’m definitely not offended by what you say. :D

    • It’s interesting how we respect people who care about themselves more than those who don’t. We also appreciate generosity, of course, but not a pushover. And generosity is quite a selfish thing. “I feel good when I help someone …” or “I feel good when I give …” Both selfish statements, but very important qualities in a person.

  4. I’m going to make this about me, then :) That I read this message, understood it, found myself nodding my head in affirmation, then smiling at the end, shows me how much I have grown/released/learned. I wouldn’t have read this entire piece a few years ago, and if I did, I would probably have been offended somewhere in it. Now I simply think, thank you for continuing to inspire me!

  5. haha yes! To all of this. I freaking loved that email headline- especially as it arrived in a sea of ‘how to make 2013 your best/most epic/greatest/most meaningful year yet’ headlines. Since I know I’m good at goal setting, I wasn’t offended ;) But seriously, thank you for sharing that post, this subsequent post, and for doing this experiment. Yours are some of the most enjoyable emails I get- probably because you aren’t trying to sell me anything.

  6. I am always pleased to read what your write Karol. Some of it shows us how we are our own worst enemies and some of it is showing us how to improve. I enjoy a mix of ‘why’ something is followed by solutions. Many bloggers just have the why and what is wrong, with no positiveness in the message – those ones are tiring in the long run and get an unsubscribe.

    Reading your posts is like sitting down at lunch with intelligent friends and having a good debate (albeit in this forum, one sided).

  7. OF COURSE it’s all about you!!! What else is life about??? Making ourselves happy, doing things that we enjoy, being who we want to be. Everybody has an opinion and not one of us can control someone else’s opinion (although we certainly try). Someone else’s opinion is not about me, it’s about them. If you walk into a room of 50 people, all 50 people will have a different opinion of you. So what? Who cares? There is a saying that goes…opinions are like assholes (or belly buttons or noses), everyone has one. AND????

    I love you Karol!!! You are honest, speak your mind and give me hope for this world! Please keep making it all about you!

  8. Karol, This is exactly why I enjoy reading what you’ve got to say. I don’t always agree, and that’s quite refreshing because it’s “truth”. Anyhow, I appreciate your writing and will keep reading as long as you’re on the internet. *cheers*

  9. This is an interesting piece… I actually DIDN’T open the “Emily, you suck at goal setting” email (because I was busy with something else at the time and knew I’d want to read it under better circumstances) but as soon as I saw the email headline, I knew exactly what you were up to :) I also vaguely wondered if anyone would unsubscribe as a result: maybe they’d take it the wrong way, maybe it hit their inbox at the wrong time when they were having a terrible day, or maybe they were cleaning up their email subscriptions in an effort to clear out all negativity or other information that “does not serve them” (a phrase that is becoming so cliche imho).

    It seems they did and while I’m not surprised by that at all, I am surprised by this post. I thought that you were going to give us tips on how to grow thicker skin, but it was actually a dissection of your own reaction of offense to their reaction of offense (not sure I’m even spelling that right).

    Anyway, I think it’s okay to be “offended” sometimes. Because what it really is is an emotional reaction based on the fact that you have an opinion on something, or – if it’s a reaction to your work – that you care about your work. And that’s all good stuff :) The tricky bit is deciding afterward how long you should entertain those feelings and whether or not they will impact either your currently held opinion on the subject or how you approach your work.

    So, the people who create those emotional reactions may not matter one bit, but the reaction itself is worth analysis.

    Love your stuff, Karol!

    • Many good points. Sometimes people need somewhere to vent, or something benign pushes them over the edge, and they forget that there’s a human on the other side. I forget as much as anybody.

  10. Karol, I’m offended that you think I MIGHT be offended…..:-D.

    Seriously, I’ve been a long time fan. I like most of what you write. And what I don’t like, I ignore.

  11. Karol,
    Awesome post. Since I started my blog I do not have any subscribers or people posting comments…does it hurt some days yes and some days no. I am doing my blog for me and no one else. I try to have information that might help people understand a few things about me and the rest of the time it is me just running my mouth off for good or ill. LOL.

    Take care

    • Unsolicited advice re: subscribers / commenters. Briefly, if it looks like you’re taking your craft seriously you naturally attract people (in the course of doing stuff like networking and writing guest articles). It’s OK to treat it as a hobby, as something you would do anyway. But if you want something more, your own domain name will help with looking serious.

  12. I like your point at the end on continuing to keep on creating . It reminded me of Neroli Makim’s post, “Why Creativity and Blogging are a Match Made in Heaven.”
    Yup, it’s hard not to get all butt-hurt now and then, especially when you lose sight of the creative magic in your life. Is that what this post was all about? The dichotomy between being trapped in a reactive construct of being easily offended versus adopting a creative orientation (a la Robert Fritz)?

  13. I think the selfish thing is a bit more complicated. Feeling good about helping others is a bit different to enjoying good food alone, which is quite different to feeling good about setting out to offend people.

    There is an Internet marketer who is well known for swearing. I suppose it is nice to be known for something.

    I like that you keep experimenting.

  14. This fits so beautifully with where I’m at in my journey, right now. It’s uncanny. I’m working (my ass off) at not allowing other people and their thoughts and opinions about me, to turn me into someone that I’m not. Essentially, what I’m learning as I go is that everything – EVERYTHING – that I think I need from others (approval, respect, freedom, acceptance, understanding) is what I actually need from myself. Which means…it’s all about me. Literally.
    Simple. Horrifying. Freeing. Hilarious. It struck me in so many ways, when I really grasped its meaning. And I really even HAVEN’T grasped it’s full meaning, in practice. Just in theory.
    Anyway – I don’t normally do this, but I honestly liked your blog post, title and all. It made me smile, because it was true. It really did motivate me to sit down and specifically nail down goals that I had previously been too afraid to claim. And it’s going really well. So. There. Not everyone took it in a bad way. Thank you!

  15. I enjoyed getting the personalized insult. It struck me as perceptive and universally true (unless you happen to be enlightened). And I need that counterweight to all the rah-rah, flattering, suck up ones I get.

  16. This reminded me of a certain kind of television viewer… the kind who complains viciously about a program, as if the option to stop watching it doesn’t exist.

  17. So many people are such the victim these days. I thought you’re email title was hilarious. It got the reader’s attention! Pretty sure that’s what you were after:) Have you ever read or listened to Steve Chandler? He has been very helpful to me on this subject (and so many others) and I think you would enjoy him. Have a great day!

  18. Hey, bud!

    Love this whole line of thinking. Reminds me of She shares the same viewpoint on, “Hey, if you don’t like me, you won’t like what I sell either, so just get the hell out.”

    Along those lines, though, I would love love love to see some of your related statistics. You’re the only I know who discusses unsubscribers so vocally, and I know you’re pretty good with stats. It would be super interesting to see what your slightly offensive emails/subject lines do for your email open rates and unsubscribes. And inversely what your more palatable subject lines result in.

    Personally, I’ll unsubscribe from anything too milquetoast (eg. 90% of all newsletters) . Or anything too car-salesmanish/hypeish (eg. the SocialTriggers newsletter, which makes me feel like I need a shower every time). But anything with mad, crazy, strong, out-there personality…I’m in for the long haul even if they try to sell me on something. Even if I don’t buy anything from these guys, which I rarely do, I’ll stay on the list because I look forward to their approach and style.



    • re TMFP: Ash is great

      The most unsubscribes I’ve had is about 2%. The last few e-mails have been over 1%, which is higher than normal. Usually it’s below 1%. The 2 e-mails after the “you suck” e-mail have had uncharacteristically higher unsubscribe rates. I can only speculate it’s because of the “you suck” e-mail, but I don’t know. The last 2 e-mails were pretty benign and maybe that’s why there were more unsubscribes.

        • I used to when I had a lot of subscribers and used my e-mail list for money-making purposes. Nowadays I’m less focused on making money from this website and more focused on other stuff so I just stick to one headline and e-mail with no A/B testing. I almost want to get cocky and say I’ve done enough e-mail marketing to know what will generally work, but that would be arrogant and numbers never lie. People do.

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