We often talk about how brutal haters can be on the internet, but rarely do we touch on ways public figures or anyone deal with them. A recent phenomenon, however, shows that money can sometimes effectively turn haters into allies or fans.

The Digital Civility Index (DCI) report from Microsoft in 2020 shows that Indonesian netizens -internet citizens– are the most impolite internet users in Southeast Asia. As if to prove the point, Indonesian netizens were quick at harshly firing back not long after the report’s publication.

A study by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin explained that haters are emboldened when their feelings are shared by others. Once they found that other people were sharing a sentiment through their comments, for example, this then becomes that one last push to come out with aggressive or hurtful comments.  The classic safety in number.

For Kiky Saputri, a female celebrity who is also a stand-up comedian, money may be the solution to all these haters. We have long known the power of settling formal agreements with money but can it be of use in the era of social media and influencers? And is it worth it?

For those who did not follow Kiky’s case, she was at the wrong end of a backlash for comments she had made on other celebrities. But instead of being irritated and on the defensive, she calmly direct-messaged a few hostile netizens asking for their bank account and then sent them some money.

It came as no surprise that after receiving money, these haters turned into her allies. Many applauded her for finally exposing the true color of Indonesian netizens, as seen from the mere blind rage that often led to harsh remarks, even though they did not really mean what they said.  

Other KOLs, ranging from fashion designers, content creators, and fellow celebrities have found this unusual yet smart move interesting. It is fascinating to see that Kiky’s approach has since inspired other celebrities.

Dangdut singer and actress Dewi Perssik, for example, is sending TikTok gifts to haters who bash her with their ugly comments.

Kiky made us realize that netizens can throw the most horrible things to public figures without actually meaning it. Adding to it is the mob mentality, where people grow bold because of the sense that their feelings are shared by many others.

Paying for approval however, does not guarantee a long-term solution. It comes with consequences too.

When people notice that they can get instant money by simply hating a public figure they may be tempted to just bash others on the internet in the hope of making some money. Even until recently, some people were still asking in Kiky’s comment section, whether they were still eligible for some free cash.

What then, would be the best approach to handle snarky comments on your social media?

First of all, we must realize the fact that netizens being netizens, not everyone and every comment should be addressed personally. 

We can learn from the case of Dian Sastro who showed her beautiful home online but got bashed for something totally unrelated. She kept silent, did nothing, and stayed above ground.

Another way is by cracking a joke. Sometimes you can be less formal and be funny in replying to nasty comments, especially when the situation allows it and the topic is not all that sensitive. 

When director Timo Tjahjanto, addressing negative comments regarding his latest movie, used sarcasm, other celebrities then jumped in, and tweeted other sassy responses.

What is important is that we don’t let comments ruin our day. Look at Taylor Swift’s “Shake-it-off!” approach, or Beyoncé’s “There were people who didn’t like my first album, there will be people who won’t like my next album. And that’s just human nature, I can’t expect everyone to love everything that I do.”

Or even the notorious Kim Kardashian who came out with, “I don’t do drugs, I hardly drink, I’ve never committed a crime — and yet I’m a bad role model for being proud of my body? The body-shaming and slut-shaming — it’s like, enough is enough. You be you and let me be me.” 

They all floated above the negativity thrown at them.

At the end of the day, people’s minds are beyond our control, even believing they are right when they are not. So, respond only when necessary, keeping in mind the responsibility that comes with being a public figure. 

If we make mistakes, then learn from it, but continue to hold our heads high. We don’t have to pay people to be vaguely “nice” and receptive to what we do. 

Written by Irmadella Indayanti P.