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How to Deal with Tiny House Living Negativity on the Internet

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By Laura LaVoie

“Wow, you live in something that small?”

“Oh, I could never do that!” 

“I would live in a tiny house, but I can’t because of all my books.”

We’ve all heard the negativity on the internet. It isn’t just part of the tiny house community but all over there is an epidemic of individuals trolling websites on topics they couldn’t care less about to simply make comments about how that thing is the worst thing they’ve ever heard of. I think there is something about the anonymity that the internet provides that makes people bolder than they would otherwise be.

I believe the tiny house community is all about positivity. People can give our choices political assignments even when no political motives are present. People can write us off as those crazy folks who live a little weird. That is fine; but dealing with internet comments is part and parcel of blogging the tiny life. So, how do we deal with them?

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  • Moderating comments. If you have a blog, it is never a bad idea to moderate comments. Not only will this eliminate the spam messages with random links, but will also allow you to control the message of your blog. I don’t post anything that is abusive. I do post things that might be construed as negative and use them as conversation starters.
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Image courtesy of Teerapun / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Private Social Media. My own Facebook page is a place where I am willing to listen to negative comments. The people on my FB page should be my friends, so if they aren’t willing to have a positive conversation with me I am less willing to remain so.
  • Public Social Media. In a recent podcast, Andrew Odom of Tiny r(E)volution mentioned that in some ways he wished he had never started the r(E)volution and could build his tiny house in peace without all the negative commenters.  While he may wish he hadn’t begun his journey in the public’s view, most of the rest of the tiny house community is grateful. The only thing you can do when you receive negative feedback in this configuration is to remain positive and forge ahead. Positivity always wins.

The rest of us in the tiny house community do have a responsibility as well. We have to remain ambassadors to all things small. We have to be public about our desires to simply and what this journey has meant to each of us. The more we talk about our lifestyles the more publicly accepted it will become. It will be less of a curiosity and more of an inspiration. That is what the tiny house community should be. Positivity breeds positivity, so let’s get out there and talk proudly about what we do and how we feel about it.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 22 comments… add one }
  • alice h
    October 24, 2012, 12:52 pm

    I see a lot of general negativity in online comments, not necessarily related to the actual topic, just using enough key words to make it seem like it. There seems to be a lot of unfocused anger out there just looking for something to attack. The best way to deal with it is keep to the “high moral ground”, stick to your principals and don’t get suckered into arguing with trolls. Getting angry in reply to some of this stuff just seems to invite more negativity and it ends up a great big tangle and a lot of hurt feelings and could scare off some of the more timid would-be tiny housers. Some tiny house enthusiasts don’t help by showing contempt for those don’t want to live tiny. It’s an individual or family choice. If it works for you and you love it, that’s great and sharing enthusiasm over that is wonderful. That’s no reason to call people who don’t or can’t do it some kind of social deviant or eco-criminal. Enthusiasts can be their own worst advocates sometimes. Living tiny is one option among many, not some kind of cult that everybody should join.

    • October 24, 2012, 1:09 pm

      Well said Alice, I totally agree and couldn’t have said it better. Thanks!

  • sgl
    October 24, 2012, 2:16 pm

    i agree that there’s lots of negativity on the internet on many topics.

    recently i discovered this humorous preamble to the comment section of http://www.ritholtz.com/blog :

    “Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.”

    not sure if it works, but it seems generally applicable to most of the blogs i’ve seen! 🙂

  • David
    October 24, 2012, 2:30 pm

    In the future can you please not post photos of people giving the middle finger, etc.? I usually look at your website while I’m at work on lunch.

    I’ve gone ahead and blocked the image via Adblock Plus, but in the future it’d be nice not to have to block stuff on your website.

    • October 24, 2012, 4:24 pm

      Sorry about that David! Maybe I’ll just remove it from the post?

  • signalfire
    October 24, 2012, 6:59 pm

    To the naysayers; all you have to do is point out you have no debt. That usually stops them in their tracks.

    • deborah
      October 27, 2012, 12:26 pm

      YEP!!!! Works for me!

    • Soody
      December 1, 2012, 9:49 pm

      (And you could add that ‘mortgage’ in French translates to ‘death contract’.) As a home owner, I can identify! haha

  • Michael
    October 24, 2012, 10:12 pm

    Just being different is a crime to some people. Some people aren’t “happy” unless they are trying to put someone else “down”. Try to understand that those people still believe the implied lies that they are fed every day by the media, “You will be happy if you buy this…”. I pity those people.

    Perhaps someday (if they are lucky) those people will realize that your are supposed to love people and use things NOT use people and love things.

    • October 27, 2012, 3:29 pm

      So true Michael. Well said. Thanks!

    • Garth
      October 27, 2012, 4:19 pm

      LOL I always figured that most people don’t do their own thinking, so if “everybody is doing it this way” (whatever “it” is), then there’s probably a good reason not to do it that way.

  • Cheri
    October 27, 2012, 10:46 am

    You (the tiny house community) have been such a major inspiration to me! I have Been downsizing my life since 2010 in perpetration to live small and live simply! I will be traveling the US for about a year in a small travel trailer and when I finally settle it will be in a tiny house that I help build! I never would have imagined living this way 10 years ago but the inspiration I have received from this website and many others has changed me! Thank you all that have shared your lives, you have given my sense of adventure wings!

    • October 27, 2012, 3:30 pm

      Wow thanks for sharing that Cheri. So cool that the ideas have made such a positive impact on your life. Keep us updated! Would love to get to chat with you some time too on your adventures. Thanks! Alex

  • jim sadler
    October 27, 2012, 11:12 am

    Emphasize the positive and fight only where you can win. For example some towns want only high dollar homes as taxes are derived from prices.
    But tiny homes can have huge advantages. For example one could own several units each dedicated to a task. One effect could be to lower insurance prices. For example a kitchen fire would not endanger other parts of the dwelling. Having a toilet and bath unit would mean that water damage from a burst pipe would only harm that small area. Items like pest control could be far more eco friendly as food would be confined to the cooking and eating unit. Energy costs could be controlled as the bedroom area alone would need heat or cooling in the evenings. If a child is born adding another sleeping unit or play unit instead of needing an entirely new dwelling would save resources and when the child is grown and gone the unit could be sold to a family with a new child needing a room or for a grand parent or relative down on their luck.
    The idea of slightly separated, low cost, purposed units for family or community lives could be a real social bonus. College dorms could yield to tiny homes rather easily. After WW11 tiny travel trailers served as dorms for the returning flood of soldiers seeking to use their GI college grants.

    • October 27, 2012, 3:31 pm

      Excellent points Jim thanks a lot for sharing! Hope you’re well too.

    • Garth
      October 27, 2012, 4:25 pm

      Jim, your “If a child is born” sentence is exactly one of the problems in many neighborhoods like our own where houses started out at 930 sq ft, and as families grew and the housing market rose, people borrowed to add on, such that there are very few small houses left for those who don’t need and can’t afford the room. I’m glad to see the tiny-house movement growing.

  • October 27, 2012, 12:22 pm

    There is prejudice against all kinds of things. People can be prejudice against my buying a single wide mobile home back in the late 90’s, but they still are staring at a 30 yr. mortgage, while I am not. No one can talk “equity” these days!!!

    I’m a loner so I don’t care what anyone says or thinks about my “hippie” lifestyle. My shoulders do not carry a heavy weight and each day is a joy to wake up to. Actually, I feel sorry for them!

    • October 27, 2012, 3:31 pm

      Thanks for sharing Deborah. Well said..

  • Garth
    October 27, 2012, 4:35 pm

    It’s good to take the internet criticism as impersonally as it was given, and use it as a chance to answer it in a way that will convince others who might have legitimately had the same misconceptions in a non-condemning way– ones who are interested but simply don’t see a way to make it work. It should not be required that every post have happyfaces and flowers attached; but if the language is bad, perhaps the best way for the moderator to handle it in this case is to delete it (or at least parts of it) and say, “Someone had a question about ___. There are several ways to handle that. First,…” I am a moderator on a couple of unrelated forums though, and I know what it’s like to try to calm tensions between regular members who are normally a great asset and we don’t want to lose them.

  • Glema
    October 27, 2012, 5:52 pm

    Tiny houses are perfection in the face of mankind’s greed. What grandeur to have heaven and earth as the walls of your living room. May God bless each of you, always. The smallest soul is heard in the heavens, why not small homes on earth?

  • LLB
    October 27, 2012, 7:53 pm

    I don’t think these comments are necessarily “negative”. People are just sharing their honest reactions. I mean, this IS a pretty unusual lifestyle to most people and getting your mind around how you would live without your “stuff” is pretty monumental when you think about how much “stuff” most people have. So if someone isn’t in your face calling you stupid or other names, it’s probably just culture shock. Fact is, if the recession turns into a depression, a lot more of us will be facing downsizing and the very same culture shock of a very different lifestyle no matter who we are. Let people have their feelings, I don’t think they are doing this to be rude.

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