Dealing With Online Nastiness

“I remember when someone wrote a nasty comment about you, and you handled it so well! Could you dish out some advice on how to handle online nastiness… like outright rudeness, public bitching and people who seem to have nothing better to do with their time than insult you and make you angry? I’ve been dealing with a fair bit of this lately and would LOVE it if you wrote an article about it!”

I don’t like hearing about people being rude to my GIRLS! Give me their names, I’ll go & beat them with a pair of stilettos!

Okay, violence aside, here are some things I have learned recently about other people’s nastiness — online or in “real life”.

It is never about you. I know that sounds like a weird cop-out, but it’s true. Happy people don’t chew other people out — they just don’t have time, they’re busy getting on with their lives. Seriously. It is more likely that you are a convenient scapegoat, or you just got caught in the crossfire (wrong place/wrong time).

Do you think the Dalai Lama makes crank calls & hacks people’s Myspace accounts? I don’t. People who whinge, moan, bitch, gossip & make nasty judgements are dissatisfied with themselves. (I know, because I used to be one of them myself.)

The way you behave towards other people is only EVER a reflection of how you feel about yourself. If you’re a tosser to everyone you work with, well, there’s obviously something going on with you. So remember — if someone attacks you, it’s not your problem, it’s THEIR stuff. Don’t feel like you need to take their nastiness on board, don’t give them that power.

Angry & mean people just want a reaction. They’re dying for it. Think about it, if you’re cruel to someone else & they don’t respond to you, or they act as if you don’t exist, you’ll feel like you’ve wasted your time. All they REALLY want is for you to cry, scream, yell, or make a vitriolic post on Livejournal. Doing this validates their existence — it tells them that they have some control in a world in which they feel powerless. If you don’t respond to them, they’ll get bored & move on to someone who plays the drama card; those people are much more fun to toy with. I know how tempting it can be to get angry, crack a vicious one-liner, or “get someone back”. But just don’t. Don’t dignify their behaviour with a response.

In an ideal world, we would all have unshakeable faith in ourselves, utmost confidence, intact self esteem & a deep feeling of significance. The truth is, most of us don’t, & the meanest people (otherwise known as those who have been doing it longest, or those who have the most personal pain) are sometimes excellent at digging into those parts of us which aren’t secure. It’s like they have a radar — they know you dislike your stomach, so they mention it every time they have a go at you. Usually, the reason we’re hurt by a comment is because it resonates with us, or because we secretly fear that what they’ve said is true.

If somebody’s being a turd & all you really want to do is leave them a Myspace comment about their size of their manhood (or whatever), stop. Take a deep breath. Read their comment to you, out loud, while tapping on your karate chop point. Do some rounds, talking about how their remarks made you feel, & about your self-doubt — how you fear that you really DO have the biggest ears this side of Bombay. Do another couple of rounds, imagining they are in front of you, all the awful things you would like to say to them. Tell them how much you loathe them, how you wish a plague upon their house, etc. etc. Tell yourself that you love & forgive & accept yourself the way you are. Then take a deep breath. Have a glass of water. Sit in the sun & listen to some Rufus Wainwright (this step is optional).

Trust me, it works!

Remember: we don’t give no shit, we don’t take no shit, we’re not in the shit business!