Dealing With Negativity Online (And In Life)

We all have those people around us online, and in life that want nothing more than to absolutely ruin your day. Thankfully, I’m not exaggerating when I opened the post with ‘we all have those people..’ as it isn’t just you – you aren’t alone in this and yes, it really is okay to talk about it.

Now, I’m not talking about constructive criticism, or a difference of opinion with this post. I’m talking about those who make it their daily duty to make someone else feel bad, because of one thing or another. Online especially, certain things can be read differently than intended and that escalates a situation that perhaps wasn’t meant maliciously in the first place!

That said, you have the right to react to anything you encounter that makes you uncomfortable in your own way. What doesn’t cause someone else a lot of hurt, might cause you weeks of anxiety. You deal with things how you want to, you have that choice. Nobody should feel bad because of another person, not online nor in life offline.

On Social Media

Online, we have a number of tools to use when encountering something that makes us uncomfortable.

Blocking is often the best option, limiting your interaction with the person causing problems and making sure you have control over your own online experience. The person on the receiving end of the block generally knows that this has happened – but it isn’t your problem. If you’ve made the decision to block someone, make sure that once the block has happened you don’t go looking. Being trapped in a ‘what are they saying about me?!’ circle is incredibly demoralising and it isn’t an easy one to pull yourself out of.

Muting is another option, for those times you don’t feel a block is appropriate. There is something to be said about muting, as it simply eliminates all tweets or posts by that person, but they don’t get the satisfaction of being blocked. You can also mute certain hashtags you aren’t comfortable with, if that is more of a reassurance.

If you have public social media accounts, it might be worth considering flipping the privacy switch and making them friends only if it is an option for you. For bloggers, this isn’t always something we can do due to our hobby being about sharing – but if you’ve blocked a person and they still access your profiles via other means, it highlights more of an obsession their side than yours. If you feel you can’t share as much as you’d like, the option is there to create a ‘private’ social media account for the people you’d like to share things with on a personal level, while keeping a public social media for your blog or business.

Via Blog / YouTube Comments

When it comes to comments I use Disqus on the blog, and while I know it isn’t always a popular choice for bloggers when choosing a commenting platform I did so for a reason. Comments can be moderated to a huge extent, from blocking the commenter to marking them as spam so they don’t show up. Disqus allows you the grace of IP addresses and other data from the commenter if you feel you’re being targeted by a particular user, which can be recorded if you feel it needs to be. Like all major commenting platforms, you can also choose whether guests can comment or if they need to be registered users.

There can be a lot said for taking the moral high road too.

I received some particularly unhelpful comments on a Youtube video earlier this week, and as Mike helps me moderate that he simply responded with ‘thanks for the feedback!’ and we carried on as normal. The next day, the user responded with a follow up comment which was much nicer and even had an apology. Cliché, but the term ‘it says more about them than you’ is incredibly relevant when it comes to things like this – they want to spend time harassing someone else for the choices they make, then let them.

The temptation is always there to publicly respond with a sassy comeback, or perhaps calling out the comment in a public way. We’ve all been there. Having friends or fans then turning on the culprit in kind, not helping the situation in any way. Don’t start a witch hunt, it isn’t going to paint you in the best light for handling it that way and it simply gives the person who left the comment more attention. I’ve seen situations unfold publicly where the people defending the victim of a horrible comment have said even worse things about the perpetrator of said comment, making the whole thing ridiculous and hypocritical.

Try not to respond in anger – we’ve all googled a passive aggressive quote and slapped it on Instagram or Facebook. A few hours later we’ve all been that person who has deleted said post or tweets feeling pretty crummy about it. If you get the urge, perhaps write your response down and come back to it a few hours later to review it when you aren’t so hurt or angry. A lot of things happen because of a knee-jerk reaction to the original problem, if you think on it for a while you tend to self rationalise your anger and the urge to respond in kind is often gone.

Or Offline?

This is perhaps the most difficult. The importance of the phrase ‘you deal with things how you want to, you have that choice‘ that I mentioned at the beginning of this post truly does shine through here as nobody deals with something the same way as someone else. If every person wrote a book on how they handle things, I’m sure every single book would be different as its such a personal thing to work through. A few staple things are worthy of noting, however.

Speak with someone. Someone who is completely away from the situation, so they can offer an opinion that you can value as it won’t have any ulterior motive to it. You don’t need to offer them your soul on a plate, tell them what you feel comfortable with and appreciate the fact you’re sharing something that is incredibly hard to share. As humans, we don’t like admitting things aren’t perfect, and it’s a huge step to share – but try. If the problem has persisted a while, there is absolutely no weakness in speaking to someone on a professional level too.

Make yourself comfortable. A lot of life is online now. Whether you feel encroached online or offline, you can adjust settings to make sure you share what you want to share. Facebook offer a restricted profile option, meaning you can pick through your added friends and activate it so they see the very basics. They won’t get a notification saying they’re restricted, life will just carry on as normal and your personal space online will have clear boundaries. If you feel that isn’t the option, then don’t feel bad for blocking someone. You are the most important person in this situation, and if that makes you more comfortable then so be it.

Challenge yourself. Go out, have new adventures and don’t ever stop! A pyjama day is well and truly acceptable but don’t get yourself into a rut of staying away from people and distancing yourself. If your problem is a person, its just one person on a planet filled with many more worthy beings for you to share yourself with. If its a situation, then you have the power to fill your life with many, many more situations. Join clubs, go embrace something you care about and you live the good life.

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