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What today’s journalists can learn from Mark Twain about responding to criticism

Comments section got you down? Have the criticisms of your craft and mean tweets about your work or your news organization become too much to bear? Are you unsure how to respond to the constant criticism or even if you should reply at all?

Take heart. Here is some wisdom from a man who was never one to mince words and who was articulate enough to cut critics to their core while at the same time making them laugh. Try one of these quotes out in response to your unbearable Internet troll. Or, just reflect on it and don’t feed the trolls.

A word of caution abut Mark Twain quotes in general: All of these quotes have been attributed to Mark Twain by multiple sources, but with famous figures like Abraham Lincoln, Twain and Benjamin Franklin, sometimes a quote is wrongly attributed.

“The critic’s symbol should be the tumble-bug: he deposits his egg in somebody else’s dung, otherwise he could not hatch it.”

“If a critic should start a religion it would not have any object but to convert angels, and they wouldn’t need it.”

“One mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself.”

“A man with a hump-backed uncle mustn’t make fun of another man’s cross-eyed aunt.”

“Keep away from small people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain’t so.”

“Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles; it will make clear and simple many things which are involved in haunting and harassing difficulties and obscurities now.”

“The older we grow the greater becomes our wonder at how much ignorance one can contain without bursting one’s clothes.”

“Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.”

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.”

“In his private heart no man much respects himself.”

“I don’t give a damn for man that can spell a word only one way.”

“We like a man to come right out and say what he thinks, if we agree with him.”

“History is strewn thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill, but a lie, well told, is immortal.”

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