Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How to avoid online drama

When you put yourself out there, not everyone will like you.

I've always heard this, always believed it, and always been terrified of it. 

I knew putting out blogs, vlogs, and writing a book would be putting myself out there. I wanted to help students. I knew it would open me up.

And so far it's been amazing and so worth it.

Recently, though, that first truth has come about in some pretty crazy ways and, like I predicted, despite all the VERY good stuff that has happened, it feels awful

No matter how great things are going in our lives, we can sometimes tend to fixate on that one bad thing. That one nasty YouTube comment. That one bad grade. That one person who doesn't like us.

We mull it over in our heads, let it rip up our insides, and either want to curl up into a little ball in the corner or turn into the Hulk and fight back. Or sometimes alternate between both.

With social media the way it is today, we are all putting ourselves "out" there in one way or another. So what do you do when you're up against icky comments or bad things that happen to you online when you haven't done anything wrong? 

  • Keep going and remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and what kind of person you want to be. 
  • Remember it's rarely about you. Most negativity online comes from half-information, hasty judgements, and the sense of freedom the internet gives people to say things they wouldn't dream of saying in person. Most often negativity comes from people who don't know you, don't have the whole picture, or are often just projecting something that's going on in their own lives. 
  • Always be sure to decipher negativity from genuine feedback. Try to listen first and think about if you have something you could improve upon. If so, try to grow. 
  •  Never bother with social media comment wars. When you've really thought about it and it's clear you're truly being victimized, it can be even harder to maintain your poise. Writing negative, degrading, and nasty comments online is simply unprofessional - and it's a war that cannot be won, a fight not worth fighting.
  • Never react right away. If you feel like some kind of action needs to be taken, find a trusted adult mentor. Friends are the best, but sometimes friends find drama interesting, even though they have your best interests at heart. Because they love you like that, they will get fired up too. Find a mentor who can give you unemotional advice on what to do next. 
  • Step away from the computer/phone for a while and hang out with some of your favorite friends or family members in person. Remind yourself that the people who really know you really love you. And don't dwell on the drama when you're hanging out - just have fun.

I love the internet and think it opens up a wealth of opportunity. I wouldn't get to talk to you right now if it weren't for this incredible phenomenon.

But, like any medium, it can open you up to negativity you never intended. So guard yourself, be yourself, and never let anyone stop you from being poised, professional, and positive online. 

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