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How to Handle Unfair Criticism of Your Work

If you’re putting your creative work out there — be it design samples on Behance, a WordPress tutorial on your blog, or adding your two cents in a public forum — you can easily become the target of trolls if you hit the wrong nerve.

Sadly, some clients can be just as sensitive, and triggered as online trolls; You recommend an update to a logo they designed themselves (even though you didn’t know that at the time); You disagree with their suggestion that paying for backlinks is a legit marketing strategy; You ask them to clarify what “I don’t like it” means in response to the mockups you delivered.

Before you know it, they’re providing irrelevant feedback, slinging insults at you, or poo-pooing every action you take. It’s not really professional or fair, but it is what it is, and now you’re left having to deal with it.

I recently had someone respond to an article I wrote, calling the design concept I was proposing “evil” and “s***”. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before. I’ve had my content written off as “stupid”, “pointless”, and once had someone feel the need to tell me they wouldn’t read an article I wrote because dating apps (the subject of the piece) only cater to “the attractive 1% of the population”. It’s not just trolls that will direct illogical and unfair criticisms at creatives either. I managed web design and marketing projects for years, and encountered a number of clients who were more than happy to personally attack our team, or voice unhelpful feedback when they weren’t satisfied.

So, today, I want to look at how web designers, and creatives in general, can more effectively handle unfair or unhelpful criticism of their work. Wherever your unfair or negative criticisms come from, keep the following in mind before you respond to any of them:


1. Understand Where the Negativity Comes From

Let’s be honest: People are super sensitive these days and it’s very easy to “trigger” highly emotional and volatile responses.

Social media is partially to blame for this as it makes it easy for people to hide behind their screens and avatars as they spew hate speech, abusive comments, and generally try to stir up trouble.

You also have to consider the state of the world — on a global scale as well as the personal worlds we build for ourselves. I think it’s a lot easier for some people to nitpick about something trite or something that goes against their personal beliefs than it is to deal with real problems in the world.

This doesn’t justify or excuse any unfair comments made of your work. But it helps to understand where the underlying anger, jealousy, or nastiness is coming from.


2. Remove Yourself from the Criticism

When people make comments about you or your work that’s irrelevant, illogical, or mean-spirited, it’s a tricky situation to be in. The same thing goes for clients who give vague, unhelpful, or hurtful feedback like “I could’ve done that myself” or “You don’t get it”.

Unfortunately, the response you have to these kinds of unfair criticisms could end up hurting you in the long run if you:

  • Get defensive and fight back, potentially compromising positive relationships you worked hard to build;
  • Take it personally and let it feed into insecurities you’ve tried to tuck away “Why should anyone pay me to build their website?”;
  • Become fearful of taking risks and pushing boundaries and, thus, become stifled creatively.

Instead of letting your emotions run amok, you need to remove the “you” from the criticism. This goes for any kind of feedback you receive.

You are not the one under the microscope here; it’s your work that’s under scrutiny. If you can take yourself out of the equation, then the response you give becomes less about defending your personal integrity, skills, etc., which makes you more likely to respond calmly and professionally.


3. Choose the Best Response for the Situation

Whether a comment has come from a troll or a bad client, you need to quickly work through your options.

Here’s what you can do to determine the best response:

Is the Argument Clear?

For now, don’t focus on the validity of the argument. You just need to establish if the commenter is thinking clearly or being driven solely by raw emotion.

If the argument is something like “This is stupid” or “This isn’t good”, you know it’s going to be like pulling teeth to get a clear explanation of the grievance. The comment is vague and hurtful for a reason.

If it comes from a troll, it’s probably not worth responding to. They’re just looking for a fight. If it comes from a client, you will need to respond. The best thing to do is to ask, “Why?” Again, you don’t want to get personal. Just focus on getting them to give you specific details or examples of what isn’t good and what they actually want.

Is the Feedback Relevant?

Nothing is more frustrating than putting something out there, only to receive feedback on something else entirely… or something that doesn’t matter.

I recently wrote an article on a controversial subject, so I expected a lot of heated debate around it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. What I hadn’t expected, though, was that someone would try to reduce everything I’d written to a spelling error in the piece.

Now, spelling and grammatical errors happen. When someone is nice enough to call them to my attention, I make sure they’re fixed right away. However, this person wasn’t looking for that. The comment was phrased so as to make my argument seem invalid because of one typo.

This is the kind of commenter that doesn’t want you to say, “Hey, thanks for pointing that out! We fixed the error.” They want you to open up the conversation and give them the floor to point out more issues with what you’ve done.

When you receive this kind of feedback or comment — one made for the sake of meanness or to demonstrate dominance over you — it’s probably best to leave it be. They just want to nitpick for nitpicking’s sake.

Is it Worth Debating?

Let’s say that you’ve received a comment that you don’t agree with, but is valid enough in its own right. Is it worth responding to?

If it sounds as though they genuinely want to have a conversation or healthy debate, then yes, it’s worth responding. That’s part of the reason why art is created: to get people thinking and talking.

Just remember to check yourself before you respond. This isn’t about you. You can certainly disagree with what they have to say and you can bring data to back up your argument, but you don’t need to be defensive.

Here’s what I always remind myself before I engage with someone who has a counter-argument for something I created:

There’s a lot to learn when you step outside the bubble of your work and look at it from someone else’s perspective.

I actually find that responding to feedback and comments makes me better at my job and I think this is something that would be especially helpful for web designers. Why? For starters, it helps me figure out what people like and dislike (especially as the market changes). I also enjoy getting to learn more about other people’s perspectives as it almost always inspires future work of mine.



Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and to take risks in your work. I know it’s hard when one voice comes through so clearly, casting doubt on your body of work or your talent overall. But that’s just one person who’s made up their mind to be mean-spirited or unfair.

If you’re ever feeling down about something someone said and you can’t shake the comment, take a step back and look over the good feedback you’ve received. These are the people who appreciate what you do. And even when the feedback isn’t always positive, they’re the ones who’ve chosen to share feedback that’s productive because they want to help you become better at your job.

These are the people worth listening and responding to.


Featured image via Unsplash.

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The Art of Persuasion: How to Handle Clients With Mad Ideas

Crazy, impractical, out-of-budget suggestions are a fact of life for web designers everywhere. A deeper understanding of your client’s needs and motivations will help you navigate through challenging situations, and avoid them in the first place.

We’ve all been there. It’s 4pm on a Friday afternoon, you’re already in your “weekend outfit” (underwear and hoody combo) and you get an email. It’s Client X: Hey, erm, I’ve just had a couple of thoughts, can we talk?

Wearily, you reach for the phone.

Sure enough, the “couple of thoughts” become a rambling monologue on the virtues of asymmetric grid layout, mouse-controllable content and parallax scrolling (“that shouldn’t be too hard, right?”) which lasts for 90 minutes. They basically want this, on their budget of $1200.

If that wasn’t bad enough, of course you also know that what they’re asking for — even if you could deliver it on time and in budget — will make no sense at all to their users.

Don’t panic, here’s what you can do.


1. Make a Connection

Believe it or not, from a certain angle, there’s probably method to their madness. By discovering it, you’ll not only unlock ways to solve the problem, but develop your working relationship in a positive direction too.

Have you ever wondered why Client X wants their app to auto-play “We are the Champions” every time it loads? Maybe they’re trying to send a positive message about their company or looking for a lighthearted feel. Have they seen something similar that actually works? Are they trying to express their personality through the work they’re asking you to do?

In his book Nonviolent Communication, psychologist Marshall Rosenberg argues we can find resolution to any conflict by addressing the needs that underlie it, and urges us to start by acknowledging the other person’s reality.

Here’s how it works: don’t argue. At least not yet. Let them talk. Ask questions. Acknowledge what they’re saying. Listen. At the same time, try to build up a picture of what’s important to them at the emotional level. When you do talk, reflect back what you’ve understood. You’ll probably find the situation calms right down.

Maybe this seems time consuming. It is. But then again, so are those rambling “wouldn’t it be great if we…” phone-calls. You may as well put them to some use…


2. Sell Your Vision

From another perspective, in trying to persuade someone out of their mad idea, you’re really trying to sell them your own. As such, the psychology of selling has a lot to offer you, if that’s your cup of tea. Just remember: Your ability to sell is only as good as your understanding of the client. If you try to use a one-size-fits-all approach, it will sound naff. Invest time and effort in understanding what they really want, then find ways to link your sane ideas to it.

Be honest. Don’t try to sell something that isn’t going to satisfy. Most people will see through it, and the ones that don’t will leave the interaction feeling bitter.

Appeal to Emotion

Client X isn’t going to change their mind because of logical arguments. They’ve made their decision on a whim, a feeling. You can only really address it at the same level. Maybe they want people to respect their business: If so, use words and examples that evoke respect for your preferred idea: “Have you seen the Armani website? They’ve used more of a symmetric grid and it looks pretty strong don’t you think?”.

Pain, Problem, Solution

As any good salesperson will tell you, Client X’s unhinged desire for parallax scrolling arises first and foremost from pain, as in: “Jeez, this design is boring!”. They formulate this as a problem: “There’s not enough movement”. A (naive) solution follows: “We need more animation”.

You can use your understanding of the deeper need (more movement) to highlight the advantages of something simpler: “Yeah I see your point. We can also look at the colors and typefaces. Do any of these look more dynamic?”

Offer Choices

Sometimes, clients are challenging because they “want to be involved”. You can help them scratch that itch by offering choices, like the example above.

Tell a Story

Story is the difference between the value of my autograph, and the value of Neil Armstrong’s. You can dramatically increase the appeal of your vision by finding preferred brands that use it, or examples of work which went really well because of, say, grid layout.


3. Full Charm Offensive

Although you might feel like throwing your phone (or possibly them) out of the window, by giving Client X short shrift, you’ll probably dent their ego and leave them plotting ways to get revenge.

The more you nourish and protect your relationship with clients, the more they’ll respect and respond to you, and the easier your life will be. Here are some suggestions:

Put Your Effort in Early

By getting it right at the briefing stage, when the train-smash moment arrives, you can steer it towards a reasonable outcome.

Don’t be a Prima Donna

The days of the genius designer toiling away in secret are over: Clients want to be involved in the creative process and probably have a right to be. Co-creation in the planning stage will give the client ownership, and a warm feeling about you for letting them experience it. Once they’ve seen how complex the work is, they’ll probably be less inclined to chuck it, or haggle over the price as well.


If the client insists on something that really won’t work, and won’t listen to your carefully crafted vision, you know what? That’s on them. You don’t need to fight it. If it involves extra work that wasn’t in your brief then say so, explain, and suggest alternatives. Work with the client. Find ways to identify what their real needs are, and work towards those. Keep track of decisions that are made, and who made them in case of blowback.

Over Deliver

Use your knowledge of the underlying (often unconscious) desires of the client to completely wow them. Go the extra mile in areas which will likely have big impact, even if these aren’t core priorities from a pure design perspective. Try to understand the client’s expectations and exceed them in any way you can.

Be Confident, not Abrasive

In most situations with clients, you genuinely are the expert. Share stories about your experiences in a lighthearted way, explain why you think that something will or won’t work. Smile, relax. Don’t be like Sheldon.


4. Be a Proper Professional

Painful as it may be, challenging clients, like plagues of fire-breathing locusts, are an unfortunate part of life as a web designer. Get prepared up front.

Nail the Brief

As well as specifying the finished product, do yourself a favor by going beyond it: discuss brand strategy. Get the client talking about their target market, and where this project fits into their global vision. Use mood-boards, even a design principles framework, to nail down hard evidence of what you’ve both agreed are the priorities. This will be important later on!

Establish a Point of Contact

Find out who will be the decision maker(s), and who will be communicating with you. Then you know who to contact when the project starts to drift towards fantasy land. If you’ve ever found yourself on a call to client X’s great Aunt Lilly who “went to design school once” and “knows all about UX”, you haven’t done this right!

Be Organised

If you’re not using a project or client management tool, you’re probably making it hard for yourself to keep track of things. With challenging clients, you’ll often need to quickly find that email where “he literally said the exact opposite of what he’s saying he said”, even if just for your own sanity.

Be Firm

Be flexible, but set limits. Use the evidence you’ve collected to make your points. Negotiate a budget increase if the work is out of spec, or politely say no if you need to. Give reasons and alternatives.


The Real Secret: Know Your Customer

It’s a cliché, but an important one: The better you understand the mad behaviour you’re seeing, the better you can influence it.

The fact is, everyone, even Client X, is coming from somewhere. Sure they’ve got a bit lost, but at the end of the day, just like you, they’re trying to reach their goals.

If you can bring yourself to find out where they’re coming from and where they’re going, you might be able to help. At the very least, you’ll keep your phone, and also yourself, the right side of the window.


Featured image via Unsplash.

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What’s the Most Secure Way to Handle OS Upgrades?

Your computer’s operating system may or may not be designed with security in mind, but without ongoing software updates, your computer is vulnerable. How do operating systems handle sending out these updates and which approaches are the most secure?

Why Do We Need Software Updates?

There are three key reasons software updates are important.

  • New Features: OS developers provide new features all the time. We want them. Gone are the days when you buy a new box to get the new code. Now you get the goods via software updates.
  • Security Patches: It’s impossible to know all of the vulnerabilities in a program before releasing it into the wild. Updates containing security patches bolster the defenses of the code running on our devices. You can mitigate much of your risk by running the latest versions of software.
  • Ongoing Support: These days we declare a device alive or dead not based on whether it still works, but rather if it still receives updates. A device that no longer receives updates is one that will gradually lose access to newer apps, successfully loads fewer websites, and becomes increasingly vulnerable to exploitation.

There are two ways to distribute these updates. One approach is a centralized model, where a single company manages all of the updates that go to your device, regardless of which brand or model you use.

In a decentralized model, the components that go into your OS come from many sources. There is a degree of separation between the developers and those who package all those various parts together for users.

Both approaches have their pros and cons. Proprietary desktop OSes such as Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, and Google Chrome OS all take a centralized approach. GNU/Linux has a decentralized model.

How Microsoft Windows Distributes OS Updates

Windows 10 on a Dell convertible laptop
Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft distributes OS updates to anyone with a Windows PC. These updates go out based on what version of Windows you run.

For most of Windows’ history, switching to a new version of the OS was expensive. This encouraged many people to continue using older versions. With Windows 10, the situation is different. Microsoft provided Windows 10 for free initially and has said that rather than release another major upgrade, the company will now focus on iterating the desktop through software updates.

Microsoft has traditionally supported popular versions of Windows well after the release of one or two successive releases. Windows 7, for example, still received updates half a decade after the release of Windows 10.

Windows Update automatically downloads updates

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and forces users to install them. This can be frustrating, but it keeps computers up to date. Just make sure you create regular backups. While unlikely, system updates can botch your installation of Windows (or any other OS for that matter).

Security Assessment

Microsoft is transparent about how long Windows releases will receive support. This helps users make informed decisions about their hardware purchases. Forced updates also keep users patched and up-to-date, protecting more of us from exploits.

Still, a large number of Windows users aren’t using Windows 10. Some are using versions that are severely out of date, making the Windows landscape as a whole a vulnerable and easy target.

How Apple macOS Distributes OS Updates

macOS on an Apple MacBook

Apple provides OS updates directly to users via a dedicated Software Update tool. Unlike Windows, macOS does not automatically update your OS, but you can turn that feature on. Manual updates give you time to backup your data before getting new software.

Apple doesn’t explicitly state how long it will support each version of macOS. Generally, the three most recent releases will receive security patches. With new versions arriving every year

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, that means you can expect roughly three years of support.

Unfortunately, the end of life for older releases can arrive at any time without any heads up or official announcement. Apple’s security updates page shows what updates have arrived but not how long they will keep coming.

This doesn’t tell the whole story. Generally speaking, there’s little reason not to upgrade to the latest version of macOS. Changes tend to be more iterative compared to the revolutionary changes that took place between Windows 7 to 8 and Windows 8 to 10. Upgrades were relatively cheap in the past, and now they’re free.

Since macOS is only available on Apple hardware, the company can explicitly list which devices it will support. Unfortunately, if your MacBook or iMac is not on the list, you’re out of luck. You must now replace macOS with Windows or Linux to have an OS with ongoing updates, even if your hardware is technically perfectly capable of running the latest version of macOS.

Security Assessment

Manual updates give you time to back up your data, but many people choose to never install updates, leaving them more vulnerable to exploits. Apple also doesn’t tell us when a given OS release will reach the end of its support period.

On the flip side, Apple generally supports a given computer model for many years. Just make sure you consistently upgrade to the latest OS. You can check out Apple’s list of obsolete products.

How Google Chrome OS Distributes OS Updates

Google Chrome OS on a Samsung convertible laptop

On a Chromebook, updates are quiet and automatic. It doesn’t matter which device you buy, if your model is supported, you will receive each update in a matter of days. Google manages most of the software experience, so Chrome OS feels the same regardless of which Chromebook you buy.

Google provides updates on a regular schedule. Maybe OS updates come roughly every six weeks, with security patches and software updates arriving twice as frequently. You have the option to turn off automatic updates if you prefer.

But Google is not transparent about how long each Chromebook or Chromebox will receive support. The company doesn’t actually base support times on operating system version (like Microsoft) or specific devices (like Apple). Instead, Chrome OS support depends on which chipset sits inside your machine. Google promises to support each chipset for six and a half years after launch.

That poses a problem. Most of us do not know what hardware lies underneath our keyboards. We can easily buy a Chromebook using a chipset that’s been around for five years already, without knowing we will only receive one and a half years of support.

Thanks to Chrome OS’s design, the danger of going without software updates is magnified. Since Chrome OS combines the web browser with the rest of the OS, when OS updates stop, your web browser will no longer receive updates. This is not the case on other platforms, where you can update apps separately.

Security Assessment:

Chrome OS strikes a nice balance between keeping users up to date with automatic updates while giving us the freedom to upgrade at our own pace by doing things manually. But the company’s support period is largely obscure and, given Chrome OS’s design, substantially more important.

How GNU/Linux Desktops Distribute OS Updates

Purism Librem 13 privacy laptop
Image Credit: Purism

We usually refer to GNU/Linux simply as Linux, but in this case it’s important to clarify things. Google’s Chrome OS is based on Linux, but how it operates is fundamentally different from other versions of Linux based on GNU software.

There are hundreds of different GNU-based desktops you can download. Most give you a degree of freedom on how you approach software updates. Generally, notifications will arrive automatically, but you must manually download and install the update. You can do so using a simple app or the command line.

How often you receive updates depends on the size of your chosen Linux distribution. You can use a given version of Linux until your machine no longer meets the minimal system requirements, which for a growing number of Linux desktops means a 64-bit processor.

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If you use a more niche version of Linux, you have a greater risk of losing access to updates due to the project ceasing to exist. Under such circumstances, you’re free to switch to another version of Linux and keep on trucking.

Security Assessment

GNU desktops have the longest support life. Your desktop will continue to work for as long as your hardware meets system requirements. And if your preferred Linux distribution does end support, you can just switch to another.

Updates are not automatic, but there are other aspects of the way free software gets distributed that have a larger impact on whether the various parts of your OS are truly up-to-date. Since software is not produced in a central location, new updates and patches may be available for months or years before the people who make your version of Linux get around to packaging and releasing them.

Which Method Is the Most Secure?

In this case, the means is less important than the ends. If you manually update your PC every day or two and keep software up-to-date, then your machine is effectively as secure as one that receives automatic updates.

Making updates automatic primarily prevents machines from going months and years without updates, becoming susceptible to long-fixed vulnerabilities that make not only those machines but, due to botnets

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, the rest of us less safe.

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What Is a Social Media Handle?

If you’re not a frequent social media user, you might find some of its terms confusing. One of these being “social media handle”.

In this article we take a look at social media handles, explaining what they are, how to pick one, and how websites use them.

What Is a Social Media Handle?

A social media handle has nothing to do with grasping something.

Rather, a social media handle is a public username that represents people on social media sites. The public distinction is important, as usernames exist on other sites where they don’t serve the same purpose.

For example, when you sign into your bank’s website, you have to provide your username and password to log in. But this username isn’t a handle, since it’s not used as a public identifier. Nobody needs to know your banking username except you.

Where Does the Term “Handle” Come From?

Your next question after hearing this might be “what is a handle?” As it turns out, “handle” didn’t originate online.

The term was used by CB (Citizens Band) radio users before the internet was around. These folks identified themselves by nicknames, which were eventually called “handles.”

Once the internet brought message boards and other forms of discussion to the masses, people started using “handle” to refer to their usernames.

Where Are Social Handles Used?

As you’d expect, handles are most common on social media websites.

Because these websites have millions of users, many of them with similar or identical names, social media handles allow everyone to have a unique identity on the service. Thus, when you create an account on a social media site, it checks to make sure your chosen handle isn’t already taken.

Let’s examine some of the most popular social media websites to see how they implement handles.

What Is a Twitter Handle?

The term “handle” is closely associated with Twitter, as the service has called its usernames handles for some time.

When you create an account with Twitter, you set up a unique handle for yourself. In addition, you can add your first and last name, which is different from your handle. You can see in the below tweet that my social media handle is @stegnersaurus, but my name is Ben Stegner:

This allows you to provide more information to others. You might have a preferred handle that has nothing to do with your name, so adding your name lets people find you more easily.

Twitter is built around sending short messages called “tweets.” If you want to mention another user in your tweet, you can include their handle using the @ symbol. For example, MakeUseOf’s handle on Twitter is @MakeUseOf. Below is an example of a tweet that includes it:

The act of including someone’s social media handle in a tweet is called “tagging.” By default, being tagged sends that person a notification. You can also click on the @handle to view that user’s profile.

Check out our guide to Twitter

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if you’d like more help getting started with it.

What Is an Instagram Handle?

Instagram uses handles in a similar manner to Twitter. Everyone has a handle that identifies them on the service. If you want to tag someone in a post or a comment, include their handle with an @ symbol before it.

Like Twitter, this notifies the person you tagged and lets people click on their name to visit their page. You’ll notice the person’s handle appears at the top of everything they post, making it easy to spot.

What Is a Facebook Handle?

Facebook is a little different when it comes to usernames. The site doesn’t use @handles like Twitter and Instagram do. This is primarily because Facebook is designed for more personal connections than Twitter and Instagram, so it uses your real name when you sign up.

If you want to tag someone in a Facebook post or comment, you can still type the @ symbol followed by their name. This notifies them that you’ve mentioned them and lets people click their name to see their profile. The only difference is that it uses their real name instead of a username, and doesn’t show the @ sign.

Facebook Tagging Example

However, Facebook does have a username feature. Its main purpose is to provide a unique URL that goes right to your page.

You’ll see this on business cards and in company advertisements. A business will often have its Twitter @handle next to the Twitter logo, then put /acme.corp next to the Facebook logo. This lets you know you can go to to visit them.

You can check your own username by logging into Facebook, clicking the small arrow in the top-right corner, and choosing Settings.

From the left side of this page, choose General, and you’ll see a Username field where you can change your username. By default, Facebook sets this to your first and last name separated by a period, which works fine.

Facebook Set Username

If you don’t have one set, it’s a good idea to pick one. Otherwise, your profile URL will consist of random numbers, which aren’t easy to remember.

How to Pick a Social Media Handle

Social media handles are quite important for brands and online influencers who want to maintain a consistent presence across the web. While they aren’t as vital for an average user, you can still follow a few general guidelines to create a solid handle.

  • A tried and true handle is your first name and last name. Something like @MarkJohnson isn’t fancy, but it is easy to remember.
  • If you don’t want to use your real name, nicknames are good fits for handles.
  • A shorter username is better. The longer it is, the harder it is to type and remember. There’s also a greater chance for typos.
  • Numbers can make your handle harder to remember, and might make you look unoriginal. It’s a good idea to avoid numbers unless they’re connected to you, such as a jersey number for a sport.
  • Want to spruce up your handle? Try adding terms like “The Real” or “I Am” before your username. “TheRealAlexHodges” has a fun air about it.
  • If the service allows capital letters in usernames (Instagram is all lowercase), use them to make your username easy to read. “GregWhiteBlogs” is clearer than “gregwhiteblogs”.

Namechk is a great resource for checking the availability of social media handles. You can type in the username you’re interested in and see the sites where it’s already taken.

Have Fun Picking Your Social Media Handles

In this article we’ve looked at what a social media handle is, how the biggest social media websites use it, and offered up some tips for creating your own. If you haven’t created a public username yet, creating one will make it easier for people to find you on the web.

To learn more about this topic, check out the social media slang terms you should know

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Unfriended or Unfollowed? How to Handle Rejection on Social Media

Social media is a place where people make new friends. But for some, it’s also the place where people leave old friends.

Being unfriended or unfollowed by someone feels horrible. And while most social media platforms won’t inform you when someone leaves you, you might find out anyway when you notice no recent activity from them. They just dumped you like that—without any goodbyes, broken up on social media.

Here are some things you can do when you face social media rejection.

Confirm If They Really Unfollowed You

Before you feel bad, make sure they indeed unfollowed or unfriended you.

On Instagram, you can visit their profile and click on their Following count. If your account appears in their list, they are still following you.

On Facebook, visit their profile. If it shows “Friends” then you’re still friends with them. If they have unfriended you, you’ll see an “Add friend” button instead.

Checking if you’re unfollowed on Facebook

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is a bit trickier. There is no direct way to know that. If they are still on your friends list and are active on Facebook but aren’t interacting with your posts, there’s a chance they have unfollowed you—but there’s no way to be sure.

Analyze Why They Might Have Unfollowed You

Do you make crude comments on posts? Do you share too much information

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on the public platform? You might be posting too many selfies that nobody cares about.

You need to analyze your own behavior—or ask a close friend for the honest truth—to figure out what might be irking your social media friends and causing them to unfollow you.

If there’s nothing you can find, perhaps the reason is as simple as you not paying their posts enough attention, such as not commenting on their baby pics or their vacation photos. In that case, the problem isn’t you and you shouldn’t feel too bad about it.

Be Direct and Ask Why They Unfollowed You

If they were someone important to you and you noticed that they have unfriended you without giving any explanation, try to talk to them.

Ask them if you have done something that might have hurt them. Sometimes, the sensitivities of people don’t match. What you posted as a joke might have sounded offensive to someone else.

If you know them personally or their friendship is important to you, it’s best to discuss things and sort the matters.

Did You Two Have an Argument?

If someone unfollowed you because of an argument you had with them, discuss the matter and sort the problem out. However, don’t bring up the fact that they unfollowed you and don’t ask them to re-follow you. Discuss the issue at hand, come to a resolution, and if they appreciate your gesture of maturity, they will re-follow you when they are ready.

Don’t Stalk Them

If you start stalking the person that unfriended you, you will only hurt yourself more. It’s best to move on and not dwell on the reasons why they unfriended you.

And the reasons aren’t always about you. Maybe your friend reached their friends limit and removed a handful of old acquaintances to make space for new acquaintances. You might have been one of those people they didn’t know so well.

Stalking them will consume your time and increase your obsession. If you cannot gently confront them, just let them go.

Continue Being Nice to Them

If this is a person you know outside social media, continue being nice to them. If their behavior towards you hasn’t changed, don’t ask them why they unfriended you.

It could be anything. Maybe they didn’t want you to know about something they’re trying to hide from their family or colleagues.

If their online friendship meant a lot to you, you can bring up the topic but in a friendly way. Don’t be angry at them or it might jeopardize your real life relations as well.

Consider Doing a Social Media Detox

If you are obsessing far too much over being unfriended, take a break from social media and make some friends in the real world.

Stop checking your account frequently. Or temporarily deactivate your account for some time. If you find yourself checking the app again and again, uninstall it from your phone. You need a break to gain some perspective.

Try to make some friends in the real world. Join some fun classes and soon you won’t be dependent on social media friends as much. Learn more about how to do a social media detox the right way

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Don’t Dwell on It

Sure, it burns to think that someone doesn’t like you. After all, you’re just minding your own business on social media and suddenly you notice you that you have one fewer follower than before.

Before you start feeling bad, did you really like them? If not, you’re just feeling bad that they didn’t like you either. If you weren’t close to that person, try not to dwell on that thought too much.

People become social media friends and then they stop being friends. It’s part of the normal ebb and flow of digital socialization.

Take Social Media Rejection With a Pinch of Salt

Being unceremoniously defriended by a social media friend is painful. If you’re going to lose hope over a small experience, you might lose trust in friendships.

However, this is not how all friendships are going to be. Some people start from being social media friends and they meet and become close friends in real life. Don’t let a small bad experience bring you down. Go ahead and add some new friends.

It’s not very difficult to find new friends on the internet

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. It could be an old classmate or a colleague at the office. You can also join social media pages and groups and mingle with others there.

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