When Did “Mean” Become Popular?

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

When Did “Mean” Become Popular?

MCP Actions recently celebrated six years of business as an Adobe Photoshop actions design and training company.

Sadly, a trend that has taken shape this year is not worthy of celebration.  It is consistent with the growing tone of arrogant, mean and insulting language posted across the Internet. Recently, it has infested my Facebook page and even occasionally on our blog comments. I now have no choice but to speak out on the subject.

Recent comments on our pages, directed toward members of our community, lack such maturity and tact. It makes me think of 5th grade when a “mean girl” tripped me in a rollerskating rink and then gathered around laughing with a group of kids. There was no purpose to her actions other than to be hurtful.  My elementary school age children tell me similar stories of “meanness” at school.  I am aware that the world is made up of all kinds of people and those mean kids often turn into mean adults.  Those are not the people I want on MCP platforms, as they detract from the experience of the vast majority of our customers and network.

When you own a online business, you have no choice but to tolerate criticism, unsolicited opinions, and sometimes even “rudeness.”   Lately though, non-constructive criticism is impacting photographers and friends who share on my Facebook wall and blog. While some are professional photographers or aspire to be, many just love taking pictures to capture and preserve memories of their families and friends. I personally always invite insightful critique of my photos, business, and site.  I don’t welcome bashing and spiteful comments.

Some photographers who send me “bloopers” and problem photos for before and after Blueprints feel hurt, frustrated, and scared because of unhelpful negativity. I have seen comments telling photographers that their photos are horrible, or even that the photography industry is going downhill because of them. Really?  Is there anything helpful in those words? No!

It saddens me greatly when I get emails like this: “I wanted to send you a sample of your newborn actions on my photos. I don’t want to post the images on your Facebook page with such negativity from some people.” This person is not alone.  Many photographers are scared to post images on our Facebook wall because they are afraid of “mean” attacks. This is sad. I want all photographers, regardless of their status as a pro or hobbyist, to feel comfortable posting to our sites and Facebook page.

If this continues, I will be left with no reasonable choice other than to delete vicious or unkind comments.  So, as of today, because “common courtesy” isn’t common enough, I am instituting the following rules for the MCP blog, Facebook page, and other related sites.

Rules of conduct:

  1. If you can’t say it nicely, don’t say it. Only offer critique when asked and make it polite and constructive.
  2. No insults. People have feelings. Remember that behind every image is a photographer: some are professionals and some just like picking up a camera and taking pictures.  Photo subjects are also people who often have close relationships with photographers and may see nasty comments. This will not be allowed.
  3. All respectful comments are welcome. For example, if we have a pricing discussion about selling images on DVD. You can say “I do not offer this because…”  Or you can say “I charge $X for a DVD of images.” But do not reply with “@___, people like you are ruining the industry.”
  4. Understand that we serve veterans, beginners and everyone in between. Not everyone is at your level.  Not everyone is in the same situation as you or has access to experience and equipment.
  5. We foster an environment for learning and growing. If you want critique or advice, ask for it when you post. If you give critique, make it useful not hurtful.
  6. Bring a skin thick enough for respectful, constructive commentary. Do not take comments personally unless they are personal attacks (and those will be deleted – just send us a message). It is easy to be misunderstood online, so if you think something “might be” unkind, clarify the intentions with the writer.
  7. Just because you have an opinion does not mean you are right. Just because someone tells you their thoughts about you, your photography or your business plan, does not mean they are right either. Use the differences to look at the world and further define your position.
  8. We feel the best images start with great exposure, strong composition, tack-sharp focus, and excellent white balance.  We are also realistic and know the perfect picture isn’t always attainable in camera for a variety of reasons. Maybe you are a new photographer and are still working on the exposure triangle. Or maybe your favorite expression from a subject was the one where your flash didn’t fire. Other times you may take a vacation snapshot and want to print it. And while we help photographers with basic photography skills, we are not a photography company. We are a post-processing company.  We educate photographers on using Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom, and tools like actions and presets to enhance their photography.

If you do not believe in using post-processing and think every image should be ideal straight out of the camera, no matter what, you are at the wrong place. MCP Actions exists to help improve all photos.

If anyone has anything to say regarding this post, please add it in the comments. I am willing to listen to any and all constructive criticism and opinions, just not spiteful or rude ones that offer no room for improvement. A friend and fellow photographer once told me “get rid of things that suck your joy.” I hope these new rules will make MCP Actions a better place to learn, share and grow.

Thank you,


MCP Actions


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  1. April 19, 2012 at 8:48 am —

    Thank you so much for saying it. I don’t by any means pretend to know it all and realize that I have a lot to master but I’m always hesitant to ask for help because I don’t want to be put down, I want help. It’s nice to know that you are trying to create a safe place for even stupid questions! Thank you again for all you do.

  2. Sarah Bauer
    April 19, 2012 at 8:48 am —

    Oops, left the A out of Sarah!

  3. Srah Bauer
    April 19, 2012 at 8:47 am —

    When I was in my 50’s I was bullied by someone I thaught was a friend, negative and spiteful comments still hurt today 8 years later. Some bullies think it’s OK to post hurtfull comments on a website but as you say, behind very image is someone who whether a professional or just starting out is a real live person who has fealings. Well done for standing up and putting into print what is considered acceptable by any society. My Mum always said ‘if you can’tsay something nice, then say nothing’ and as you say that still stands today.

  4. April 19, 2012 at 8:46 am —

    Truly unfortunate that you had to take the time to post rules of conduct. Jodi, I think you’ll find that the majority appreciates what you do and how you do it. Don’t be discouraged by the minority. Thank you for supporting ALL of us: professional to avid hobbyist to casual shooter. We are all better off for your efforts.

  5. April 19, 2012 at 8:45 am —

    Very well put Jodi and I concur wholeheartedly! It is very sad that the simplest concept of “common courtesy” is appearing to be an endangered species in today’s society. We should be willing to extend a hand to our fellow photographer (or human being for that matter), and share knowledge, experience and offer moral support. Doing so makes the sky not the limit any more. Kudos to you for taking a stand! I hope this allows many to see that the negativity will not be tolerated, not just by you, but from all of us who want to grow as an artist, friend and person. Thank you!

  6. April 19, 2012 at 8:45 am —

    Great post Jodi! The witch hunts in this industry can be intense. And while I personally like to get it right SOOC to make my own workflow easier, I loves me some Photoshop 🙂 I think anyone that can create a beautiful image — whether their medium is a sensor or a software — is an artist.

    • April 19, 2012 at 9:05 am —

      Exactly, in camera best, out of camera (post) helpful too. What I cannot figure out is why people who hate post processing and think it is the devil come around MCP at all. It would be like someone who hates exercise sitting at a gym all day harassing those who sweat.

      • Denise
        April 19, 2012 at 7:08 pm —

        I LOVE this analogy! Well put! Great post and blog as well. I am a budding photographer and am always nervous to post on pages for fear of losing my confidence. Thank you for posting this!

  7. April 19, 2012 at 8:45 am —

    Bravo Jodi! I don’t know if it the fact that I’m becoming more aware & sensitive to these things or if it’s just becoming more acceptable. Thank you for taking a stand and making your corner of the online world a respectful place.

    Also, I love the 4 Gates of Speech from yoga- it has really helped me control my mouth/fingers: The Four Gates of Speech:
    • Is it truthful?

    • Is it necessary to say?

    • Is it the appropriate time?

    • Can it be said in a kind way?

    • April 19, 2012 at 9:07 am —

      This is great – I read a similar one called THINK last night. So is this a motto taught in yoga classes? I have not taken yoga. I do spinning – way different – and no motto except sweat and get your heart pumping. 🙂

      Can you link me to its origins? I may want to make a graphic with this but want to credit it properly.

      • April 19, 2012 at 10:54 am —

        I believe it is a Sufi practice but closely aligns with the Right Speech within Buddhism. At least that is what Google told me. Yoga probably adopted it because it is awesome!

    • April 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm —

      Amanda, I love Jodi’s Rules of Conduct and think your suggestions are a great addendum to them. Well said!

  8. Becky
    April 19, 2012 at 8:44 am —

    So sorry mean is in. Your approach is well done.

  9. April 19, 2012 at 8:44 am —

    Thank you for taking a stand and saying it is NOT okay to treat anyone like that…MCP has brought much joy to my photography. People need to know that there is a difference between constructive criticism and outright rudeness! Thank you again. Knowing there are people like you out there protecting us from people like them makes it a lot easier to post what WE think are fabulous photos….
    “Smile, you never know if there is a lens nearby”
    AKA..Ms.Mac Photography

  10. April 19, 2012 at 8:43 am —

    This was fantastic and I’m honored to have you in my friends on Facebook and to subscripe to your website. I could not agree with you more! I’ve included a link on my new photography blog to your website. Outstanding girl! 🙂 oxox love, Shannon

  11. Brenda West
    April 19, 2012 at 8:43 am —

    Inspire each other! There is nothing to gain by knocking someone down. It will NOT lift you up. It just makes you look, as Jodi says, “mean” and “mean” is NOT cool.

  12. Laura Ballard
    April 19, 2012 at 8:42 am —

    Very well said! I hope your message gets through.

  13. April 19, 2012 at 8:41 am —

    Jodi THANK YOU for posting this. I think this is something that everyone should start to implement. Just last night I saw a very crazy mean thing going on with another semi-local photographer and some boutiques…it’s not necessary to be RUDE, MEAN, and HURTFUL. And I LOVE that you remind people there is a face behind the photo AND people in the photos!

  14. April 19, 2012 at 8:40 am —

    I fully agree with you on all the points.
    Nobody learns from being put down.
    Everyone has different standards and expectations.
    If they’ve asked for advice they are willing to learn.
    No one has the right to stop that.
    They are usually the ones that need to learn.
    It’s always gone on though.
    Just the internet has helped then be more public.

  15. Eileen Hamilton
    April 19, 2012 at 8:40 am —

    Jodi, if the rules above were a contract to be part of your site, I would sign up without hesitation. I completely agree with you and I commend you for your tact in being able to address it. I personally do not understand mean people. I understand that they want to put others down so that they feel better about themselves, or so I’ve read. However, good manners dictate what mothers all over have stated for centuries, “If you can’t say something nice, keep your mouth shut.” I enjoy your site, your work, your insight, and wisdom. I encourage those out there who are afraid to post. To the “haters”… I believe you are welcome to make your own blogsite, fb page, and do as you please. I do not care to join you.

  16. April 19, 2012 at 8:39 am —

    Well said and great list of respectful rules. I teach college students via distance learning and I have found the same mean spirited discussions can happen there too. Every semester I begin with an email that includes conduct notes similar to the rules you laid out. My main suggestions is “If you are about to critique someone first type it, reread it, leave the computer, come back and read it again. Then decide if you could say it to the person face-to-face and if you can’t don’t submit it”

  17. April 19, 2012 at 8:38 am —

    Thank you Jodi…….I agree totally with you. Great post and I pray that it reaches those who really need to read it and makes a difference. LOVE MCP Actions!!

  18. Thereasa Gwinn
    April 19, 2012 at 8:38 am —

    I think it’s sad that you have to instill a set of Rules of Conduct. Why can’t adults be adults and be considerate of their fellow photographers? Thank you, Jody for being the great, sharing and kind person that you are. I am one of your biggest fans!

  19. elijahssong
    April 19, 2012 at 8:37 am —

    I’m sorry to hear that you are experiencing such comments.. while not surprised.. it seems that people feel more and more that they should say the first thing that hits their minds.. sadly. I love your actions, and I hope that photographers of all kinds will continue to feel free to post on your pages while growing in their art… those who would criticize should remember that it is art.. and therefore subjective to each persons taste.. and that all of us had to start somewhere… I agree with Bambi.. if you can’t say anything nice.. don’t say anything at all…… Thanks for your post. 🙂 It needs to be said more often.

  20. April 19, 2012 at 8:37 am —

    Well said! I’m glad you are taking a stand. Too often these people make themselves feel important and powerful under a veil of secrecy. Life is too short to treat people unkindly.

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When Did “Mean” Become Popular?