G.E.M., one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” most influential people, on handling 80,000 nasty comments, internet trolls and negativity

G.E.M., one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” most influential people, on handling 80,000 nasty comments, internet trolls and negativity

Voted most hated artist two years in a row, the singer shares her tips for avoiding negativity and staying positive


G.E.M. has learned to turn the other cheek.
Photo: Hummingbird

Cyberbullying is mean. Especially when there are more than 80,000 nasty comments about you on a single post. But for singer G.E.M., that’s life.

For the past eight years, singer Gloria Tang Tsz-kei, better known by her stage name, G.E.M., has been Hong Kong’s top-selling female artist, and for the past two years, has been the top-selling artist on the mainland. Last month, G.E.M. – an acronym for Get Everybody Moving – released her documentary, G-Force, that documents her musical journey and path to fame. But despite her success, 25-year-old G.E.M. has had a hard time with the media, and knows all too well what it’s like to read nasty comments about yourself online. Young Post caught up with G.E.M. at the Hong Kong premiere of her documentary to find out how she deals with negativity.

G.E.M. made her music debut in 2008 at age 16. She gradually gained a reputation in Hong Kong for her big voice and ability to compose songs. She went on to gain popularity on the mainland in 2014 after appearing on the TV show I Am A Singer (Season 2). G.E.M. managed to beat several famous Asian singers, including Gary Chaw and Zhou Bi-chang, to be the first runner-up and top female singer.

Around the same time, the media and the public turned on her. Netizens mocked her pro-government stance, claiming she was ignorant of politics, and criticised her attitude when dealing with the media.

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Even today, on a Facebook group of local memes that has more than 250,000 likes, G.E.M. has been voted the most hated artist for the second year in a row. But while the public might not like her as a person, there’s no denying they like her music. Last year, she was also named one of Forbes’ “30 under 30”, a testament to her influence in the music industry. So how does G.E.M. deal with such intense negativity ?

After a particularly rough experience, where netizens lambasted her on Weibo about a spin-off performance related to I Am A Singer, G.E.M. admits she cried.

“I realised that no one cares about the facts. That was heart breaking and I was frustrated,” she says.

But this realisation helped her move beyond the negativity. “I watched a movie, The Passion. It talks about the painful journey Jesus took to his death – he was innocent but still found guilty and crucified,” says G.E.M.. She says she could really relate to the themes of is understanding and criticism.

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“I asked myself, are my problems really big? I felt like I had been reborn. That day, I wrote a new song, Heartbeat. I started to live from a new perspective. I decided I wouldn’t let my future be affected by the hurt from my past,” she says.

But G.E.M. admits she used to find it hard to deal with the comments.

“I was frustrated that I couldn’t tell the public the facts. And I was sad when I read all the personal attacks. But later I learned to be strong, realising that I could not give up. Now, if you ask me [how I cope], I can tell you that it’s easy to deal with, because I’ve learned that what other people say isn’t important,” she says.

Above all, G.E.M. says that if you’re struggling with negativity in your life, don’t let it bring you down; use it to propel yourself forward.

“Aeroplanes can only fly high when they are going against the wind. When you encounter adversity, please do not take it as an attack but a stepping stone which makes you fly higher and be stronger,” she says.

Edited by Lucy Christie

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
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