Is there a way to deal with the trolls, the bullies and the haters online?
If there is one issue I wish I could fix, it would definitely be getting rid of the revolting people that plague the online world.
As a female blogger, I’ve had my fair share of revolting nonsense and every time it makes me step back for a bit and reduce my voice. Because why would any sane person want to keep putting themselves out there to receive abuse?
I got horrible comments recently, and the irony of it all was, the post I shared was asking people to stop attacking women, or attacking women’s appearances, following a news story that broke. I wasn’t commenting on the actual story, but the condemnation that happens beyond the story. That is what I’m against.
If you want to understand the impact of trolls and bullies, please watch this video
Thanks to Chris J Reed for sharing it with me. Monica Lewinsky is such an inspiration!! However, Chris also understands this reality. No one deserves abuse. No one. Especially people who’ve got the guts to give it a go and project their message into the world. It’s hard to do it.
Recent highlights of big moments of ugliness online include Australia’s Tayla Harris – a phenomenal athlete that deserves nothing but praise.
And we cannot ignore the fact that it is the spreading and acceptance of online hatred that results in incidences like the Christchurch Mass Murder.
I am glad we are starting to address this in its totality – including white supremacy. While the media are not being kind to Facebook these days – AT ALL – it was good to see Facebook finally Standing Against Hate. Progress? Let’s hope. Could they have done it sooner? Of course. But at least it’s started.
I believe ANY HATRED expressed is part of the bigger problem. It all adds up. When we accept small incidences of hatred, it leads to broader acceptance of it in our lives – both online and off. Therefore, let’s all commit to not being haters and making sure we don’t support them either.
We can’t let the trolls silence us
But we must be strong too. When you have a goal to do no harm and are trying to be one of the people making the world a better place, it really stings when the eyes (and keyboards) of trolls land on you.
Although, compared to many, I have had a pretty good run – no rape or murder threats yet – and professionally, it hasn’t been too brutal. My other profile can get a little more interesting.
However, every time it happens, as quickly as I can, I shake myself off and get back to it. Because if I don’t, I allow these people to win. And the collective majority of decent humans in the world cannot allow that! We can never let these people close us down. We need to close them down.
But is it even possible?
Well I don’t know, it is worth trying though. For all our sakes, including the people being hateful. We need to help them come back to the light. It’s nicer there for them too. It’s nicer there for all of us.
So, here’s some ideas and I’d love to hear yours too
- Never ever EVER be unkind to anyone on social media – EVER. Don’t criticize, don’t judge, don’t be an asshole. One of the ladies in my network had the color of her lipstick criticised by another woman – publicly. You don’t like the lipstick? Send her a private message. Better yet, don’t say anything, because why comment on women’s appearance at all? Equally, if you don’t agree with someone, keep scrolling, OR even better, start a respectful discussion. A lady recently challenged my authority to blog on a topic I am very qualified to discuss, based on extensive experience. I could have got stuck into an argument, but I couldn’t be bothered. Mainly because I just don’t understand why anyone would spend a second of their time commenting in the first place. Just move on. The reality is, I can shake myself off and get up again because I’ve been doing it for so long and have dealt with a lot of nonsense. Many many people do not have that strength in them, especially when they are just starting out. If people really understood the impact of their snide comments, I really doubt they would do it. The old saying goes: if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all
If you want an example, go and look at a famous person on LinkedIn and check out the comments. One example I saw recently was GaryV . Below are two of the comments. Love him or hate him, he’s not doing any harm, so why not just move past him?
- Start holding the media accountable for what they are contributing to the world. I am all in favour of excellent journalism and the journalists I know are very fine people who are doing critical work. And we need this level of journalism in society. BUT far too many media houses (the publishers) are a HUGE part of the problem in the world today, spreading hate and misinformation. The Momo hoax was widely published by the media, then discredited, and to that I say, not good enough. You want our trust again? Do better. Equally, far too many of the media groups spread hate, fear, sow division and more, giving far too much coverage to those who don’t deserve it. As an Australian, one prime example for me is Pauline Hanson. Pauline and her One Nation Party (who I oppose with every fibre of my being) got 4.6% of the national vote and yet, what percentage of media coverage do they get? (I searched for a stat but it was inconclusive.) Donald Trump was getting more than 90% of all media coverage in all types of publications worldwide in his first year in office. It hasn’t dropped off that much either and what, 25% of Americans voted for him? Yet the world is enduring that coverage and I am sick to death of hearing about him. The media need to change from getting eyeballs for publishing sensationalist content, to taking responsibility of moving the world away from the direction it’s headed in. If we go into World War Three, the media should hang their heads in shame, because they are riling everyone up! My advice? Don’t subscribe to or spend time on media that are spreading hate. Don’t even share that content, unless there is incredible value in doing so – i.e. educating people
- Another comment for media and online platforms is, don’t support them if they allow anonymous comments. I personally decided to no longer contribute to platforms like this, because anonymity empowers the haters and the trolls, and if you can’t stand by your words and identify yourself, then I don’t want to hear your point of view. None of us do. Platforms that allow this are not worth supporting, because it gives trolls power and makes people trying to do something good shrink. Let’s own this and no longer support these platforms until they change their ways. I know these platforms love it, because they attract a huge audience engaged in a “bitch fest” and numbers matter when attracting advertisers. But it is not considering the impact on the people who get targeted in these “bitch fests”
- Defend people being trolled. I have had many many friends reach out to me, asking for advice when they are being attacked online. And it has happened on LinkedIn too. Yes, it’s a bit softer there, but it still bites. I have found the worst thing is feeling alone when it happens – especially if you get lots of haters going after you at the same time. I wrote a post about moving the world into a place of compassion and I was pummelled by haters. Yes, irony again. Happens to me a lot. If you see anyone in your community getting attacked – male or female – come to their defence. Tell them you’ve got their back. Tell the haters to do one IF you can cope with the fight that could follow. The more support you give, the better. As Monica Lewinsky said in the video earlier: she thinks that if social media had been around at that time, she might have felt less alone. Her story should be a HUGE lesson for all of us
- Don’t join in attacking anyone online – even really famous people, UNLESS they’ve done something horrendous. I totally appreciate that this line is a fine one, but the willingness and glee people seem to express when joining these conversations and sharing these horrible stories, is what concerns me most. Have we not moved on from the mob mentality? Can we not be better than that? Is it really enjoyable laughing at and mocking other people? To me, one of the worst in recent memory, was the way Miley Cyrus was attacked and gossiped about by the media, and then by us as we gleefully shared it on social media. She was a young woman making mistakes at the time – like all young people do – and we need to smack ourselves around and allow young people the space to grow up. Not easy for them today, because they have to do it online. We have to help them on this journey, not make it harder!!! I really can’t stand this mob mentality. It’s revolting. There’s a person at the end of that. Let’s be kind. We can be kind. It feels nicer in your body when you are kind to other people too. When you hate, your body does not feel good. Check out how your body feels next time you are angry. It’s not a good feeling
- Social media platforms need to change – and of course, social media still has a long long way to go to stop this, but hopefully, change is happening. A lot of big lessons have been learnt by the social media companies in recent years, so it appears it is starting to sink in. There is also a change in focus for many social media companies, with more and more talk of closed private groups emerging, but if you want to be a social leader, attracting new audiences to you, succeeding in the broader social media world remains critical. However, there is a point I think many are missing. The social media companies cannot create platforms that stop all undesirable behaviour. It’s impossible. This means we must all take responsibility and become marshals in turning this around. We are responsible for what happens on social media. I have always believed that, so let’s become so powerful the bullies and the trolls have no place to go? Although….
- Workplace – and what about employers tackling this too? There are many professionals being unkind online. Should businesses take a more active role to wipe this out? It seems logical to me that people will self-censor, but it’s not everyone. I certainly wouldn’t want to have an unkind person working for me – in any form
What do you think? Can we solve this problem? Do you have any other ideas? Or another point of view that shows how complicated it is to solve? I certainly know I don’t have all the answers – as is apparent in this post. Let’s tackle this scourge together. It definitely starts with each of us.
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