I read a letter from Tucker Max in the book Choose Yourself! which I thought totally on point about dealing with negative online trolls. It was written to James Altucher about his blog, but can equally apply to any field where you get public feedback. Here is the letter, and I also recommend the book (link above).
“I assume your blog post was mostly tongue in cheek about the feedback affecting you in a negative way. But if not, then please take this compliment to heart: From one very successful writer to another, I love your blog. Yes, it has its quirks and stylistic issues, but it is utterly original and compelling, and that is an attribute that is incredibly rare. There is so much writing out there, and so little of it is worth a shit – but your blog is one of those that are worth a shit.
Please keep doing what you are doing, and please don’t let the cowardly commentary from the ignorant sheep and trolls get you down. There are a ton of us out here that read everything you put on your blog, and thoroughly enjoy it, but we don’t tend to speak up one way or the other, because we’re normal people with normal lives. Who even writes Amazon reviews? I’ve entertained millions of people, literally millions, but from my Amazon reviews you’d think my job was to punch babies in the mouth. That’s the shitty part about the Internet, and about anonymous feedback, is that you tend to hear from the extremes, those that either love you more than reasonable, or those who are just spreading toxicity.
Fuck those people. You do great work, and I really appreciate it.
I hate to sound like a weirdo Buddhist, but the only things that really matter in this world are the relationships you have with the people you love, and the meaningful things that you do. Haters don’t fit anywhere into that. Don’t devote any mental space to them.”
It made me realise I have given too much mental space to the haters for the sake of “setting the record straight”. It made me take a step back and realise that, while TripAdvisor may allow these “sheep and trolls” a voice, we have been running a great little restaurant for nearly 10 years and have a loyal band of regular customers who love what we do. They don’t write reviews, but they do keep coming back to enjoy our product again and again. And they bring their friends.
When you think of it in that context, you are already more successful than the one negative review might suggest, so don’t let the fatheads get to you. Rise above it and get on with being great at what you do. The trolls will only encourage other trolls to go elsewhere in the long run, which is a good thing in my book. Normal folks read between the lines and look at the overall picture. They have told me as much and we’ve had a laugh about the trolls’ reviews in the meantime.
Since TripAdvisor is unlikely to change anytime soon, there’s little sense investing inordinate amounts of time fighting the few philistines you’ll encounter. My view is you should invest that time in yourself and your business.