When Someone is Mean on Social Media

When Someone is Mean on Social Media

If I have the time, I like to do a project for free that will stretch me a little or just centers in on something I’m really passionate about. I have one of those projects right now. It’s more passion than anything, and I can do as much or as little as I please. Well, I ran across an ask from one of the community members from this project and something just seemed off. I’d leave this to someone who was getting paid. That person came along and tried to help with some great advice. That was when the mean comments started coming in, because the community member didn’t get the kind of advice they wanted. And quite frankly, the out-of-the-blue attacks upsetting to the person who was getting paid to manage this group.

It got me to thinking about how we talk a lot about how to deal with mean comments in the online world but not enough about what to do when it affects us in the real world. And with the absolute viciousness that can be unleashed, it’s really time to ask if the social media managers are okay.

In my years of working in this space, I’ve had personal attacks thrown at me and at my clients. Most were unwarranted and said more about the person throwing these attacks than anything about me or my clients. But I still had to deal with it professionally and keep going onto the next thing.

How did I do that? Sometimes I don’t even know, but here’s what I do know.

Identify the feelings I’m having

Being able to name the feeling you’re having can help you deal with it in an appropriate way instead of having an overreaction that sticks with you.

Once you know whether that feeling is anger, frustration or something else, you can then decide if that feeling is really related to the mean comment or if it has to do with something going on in your life. Basically, why are you feeling this way? I firmly believe if we all took the time to do a quick analysis of what the feeling is and why we are having it in the first place that there would be far fewer mean comments on the internet, but that’s a whole other discussion.

Now that we have a name for the feeling and know why it’s happening, it can be easier to deal with what is actually going on.

What will help?

My daughter has an emotions book. Every time she has a feeling, we look it up and it gives her six simple activities to try to help her navigate it.

Tired? Take a nap, drink some water, do something active, etc. It’s kind of genius.

What I love most is that it gives you an option to either lean into the emotion or do the opposite of that emotion. Both are great ways of dealing with an emotion that is hard.

So the question to ask yourself next is whether this is an emotion that will stick with you or is this something temporary that you will bounce back from quickly. If it’s something that will stick with you, lean into it. My favorite way of doing this is to just write down everything I’m feeling without judgment. Or maybe you just need to sit there and cry for a few minutes. Whatever that particular emotion requires of you is perfectly acceptable.

If it’s something more temporary, as these mean comments tend to be, go in the opposite direction of the emotion. So the opposite of mad is happy. Dancing makes me happy, so I’m going to put on the most raucous Irish punk music and go to town. Or seeing something beautiful could make me happy as well. So I’m going to take a walk to our neighborhood gardens and look at the flowers. It’s as simple as that.

To block or not to block?

It feels ever so wonderful to block someone when they have been mean. Do not give into this temptation unless they are being truly harmful. The biggest reason is because it will only fuel the fire. If they’re a true troll, they’ll celebrate their triumph. If they are just someone having a bad day, you’ve added to the emotional toll and they will bad mouth you everywhere they can. You just can’t win with a block.

That is not to say you can’t hide their comment. And if they have a history of mean comments, you can go ahead and make it so that each one of their comments are hidden going forward. They will never know, which, to me, is even more satisfying than a block.

Working in social media is very hard on your mental health. Acknowledging that and preparing for the days when the load is extra heavy can give you a lot more longevity in your career. It’s not for everyone, but for those of us that have done the work to mentally prepare, it can be so rewarding.

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