Brain Pickings

How to Tame Trolls: Vi Hart on Dealing with Negative Comments

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“Your greatest creation is yourself. Like any great work of art, creating a great self means putting in hard work, every day, for years.”

Mathemusician Vi Hart has been a regular around here with her whimsical and mind-bending stop-motion explanations of scientific concepts. But it turns out she’s also an astute social psychologist and oracle of human nature: This hand-made disquisition on how to deal with negative comments and trolls should be a cornerstone of basic digital literacy. Like Bertrand Russell, she reminds us that to create is much braver and more difficult than to destroy; like Ezra Pound, she admonishes against taking criticism from people who have never created anything meaningful themselves; like Neil Gaiman, she points to the simple — though hardly easy — truth that the only dignified and worthwhile response to such hateful attacks is to make good art.

I have no power over you that you don’t give me, and you have no power over me that I don’t give you. … Your greatest creation is yourself. Like any great work of art, creating a great self means putting in hard work, every day, for years.

And if all that balanced, psychologically measured, self-aware response fails, there’s always F. Scott Fitzgerald’s approach.

Thanks, Juliette; image: Illustration by John Bauer for Walter Stenström’s “The Boy and the Trolls,” 1915 (public domain)

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