As with anyone in the public eye, the gold medal-winning gymnasts have been subjected to a lot of social media hate. In an interview with PEOPLE NOW, the team shared their best strategies for dealing with social media haters.
“You’ve got to not focus on it,” three-time gold medalist Gabby Douglas said. “[You have to] rejoice in each situation and surround yourself with amazing energy – you really can’t focus on the lies.”
Douglas certainly had the chance to practice what she preaches at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where the athlete was the subject of seemingly endless criticism on social media. Critics lashed out at the 20-year-old claiming she wasn’t clapping hard enough for her teammates, that she wasn’t bubbly enough and that she was unpatriotic because she didn’t put her hand over her heart during the medal ceremony.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Douglas said she had a “fantastic” time in Rio despite the drama that was playing out online.
“I had fun,” she told PEOPLE. “Maybe people weren’t being fair on social media, but that’s social media for you.”
“I just found things to be positive about,” she says. “And there’s a lot to be happy about. We won the gold medal as a team, and it was just such an amazing experience. I came to the Olympics and won a gold medal! That’s still really awesome. I can only do what I can do, and if people want to say their stuff on social media, I can’t stop them.”
Douglas wasn’t the only member of the Final Five to have to deal with negativity from the haters. Team mates Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian all faced their fair share as well.
“[On] social media all people can do is just attack and I feel like most people wouldn’t say the stuff that they type to your face,” Hernandez, 16, said. “You’ve just got to ignore it and live your life.”
Biles agreed. “I’m a very stubborn so I just ignore it,” she said.