As I was preparing for work this morning, I was watching the news which discussed some findings about social media (namely Facebook), and how its effects are causing depression in young adults. In a way, I was stunned to hear about this but at the same time we hear so much about cyber bullying, and too many times we hear about young people killing themselves because of it. We all know that the internet has changed how we interact with people online and in real life situations. Many of us have also either been the victim of cyber bullies, been the bully, or in some cases, both.
What we will attempt to address here are some common sense ways to cut down on social media bullying. Many will probably read this and say that you have heard it all before, but any advice that may save a life is always worth repeating. If you are reading this and you are a victim or know someone that is a victim, feel free to share this as you never know how it may help someone.
Surround yourself with like-minded positive people.
For some of us, we measure how popular we are on social media. The more friends we have, the more popular we think we are. While this sounds great in theory, there is another axiom we must consider. The more people we have in our lives, the more problems we may have as well. Look at your friends list. You may have well over 1500 people, but can you honestly say that you know all of these people? How many of these people friended you because of someone you friended. How many people friended you because of a random meme or something innocuous that just happened to be a hot trend at the moment? Sometimes having that many people in your friends list is a detriment. Sometimes, a particular post may bring a lot of attention to your wall, and you may be caught off guard at who is posting, and eventually it may stress you out when so many people are arguing over a particular post. When it comes right down to it, it’s a matter of quality over quantity. If you have a lot of people on your friends list and you really don’t know who the majority are, cull the herd. There’s nothing wrong with having under 600 friends and followers if you know most of them or interacted with them in real life, vs having 100’s of strangers who know nothing about you, causing trouble on your social media space. Speaking for myself, a few years ago there was a time when my Facebook wall always had something going on and many times it was stressful to the point where some days, I didn’t want to look at it because I knew there was chaos going on but as I whittled people out, I find that I have rarely had the same problems since.
Unfriend and block as needed.
Along with cutting down the list, do not be afraid to let people who are stressing you go. No matter how long you have known them, sometimes no matter the capacity, sometimes the best way to keep peace of mind is to unfriend them. There have been people who I have known for nearly ½ of my life who I friended at one point on social media, but the energy that they gave off was so bad, I cut them loose and did not feel bad about it. As far as blocking, do it. It’s there for a reason. Many times you may be in a group and you have certain people who live for conflict and many times you may be the target. Now many of us try to ‘be hard’ and think that we have thick skin knowing that what someone is saying is really pissing us off. We psyche ourselves out by saying “Blocking people is for suckers” or “If I block them, they win.” Really? So, if you are about to go out into the freezing cold and there is a perfectly good coat at the front door, you won’t leave it will you? You can try to ignore a cyber-bully all you want but as long as they have access to posting something to get your attention, they will continue to do it. By using that one click and ridding yourself of their nonsense, you can unload a ton of stress.
Don’t overshare and limit who see what you are sharing.
The most amazing thing about social media is how much we want to tell the world everything about us and look expectantly for a pat on the back. We post pictures of food, our activities, parties, vacations and so on. To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, you know there will occasionally be haters who come along and ruin your fun. Furthermore, there are people who post very personal and private tidbits about themselves such as problems with relatives and spouses, personal health information, and so much more. Many times, these posts are in public forums, but the poster may not have any idea who will respond or how. There are even a few people who do these things just to stir the pot, in order to see how others will react. In doing so, however, they reveal personal drama which should have been dealt with privately, and involve everyone in it unnecessarily. If you don’t like having your life as an open book or, if you don’t like how people react to your personal drama, consider limiting how much of your own personal information you post. Also, if you have a few people whom you know that will listen to your issues and offer sound advice, there is nothing wrong with having a private group in which all of you can gather and commiserate about an issue. Too many times, people will post personal business and get upset at some of the responses they get from people that they may not know.
Let’s all think of posting items to social media like this: It’s the equivalent of coming out on your front stoop and yelling out your personal business at the top of your voice for everyone in range to hear. Eventually, someone across the street or at the other corner will yell back a response. If everyone doesn’t need to know, most social media platforms have controls wherein you can set who sees what you post. There are even some controls which allow you to fine tune posts so only a very select few can see and reply. Another idea is if you want to limit negativity in what you post, post topics that promote positive thoughts. Funny videos & life-affirming memes always tend to get just as much activity and may brighten other peoples’ days. Sometimes saying something positive may just help someone else who may not be in a happy mood.
Learn to disengage.
We have all been here before. We have gotten into a cyber argument with someone and it’s made us so angry that we just want to march right up to them and punch their face in. We couldn’t for many reasons:
1. They live entirely too far away.
2. They are much bigger and stronger than we were and punching them may cause them to beat the brakes off of us.
3. They may be of the opposite sex (not that it’s stopped anyone in some cases).
4. They are kids (same deal).
5. We don’t want to go to jail.
Worse, is that some of these arguments tend to drag on for hours, sometimes days, and on rare occasions weeks. Do you know why? Many of us really just want to get that last word in. Many of us are not satisfied until we get to a point where whomever we are arguing with are left speechless and we are the winner.
There are no winners when it comes to internet arguments. Sometimes depending on what you are debating, no matter how many links you post proving a fact, no matter how many memes you post making fun of a person and no matter what else you may do to get the upper hand on someone, you aren’t blocking or unfriending them after a certain point, you need to learn to say enough is enough and walk away. Even better is if the person tries to draw you back in, don’t rise up to the bait. We all have to remember that there are some people out there who only live to troll others.
As you learn to disengage, learn to not engage.
Like many things we sometimes see reported in the media, there are things that are just flat out wrong. Sometimes, with the want of being able to tell someone that their statement is incorrect, we inadvertently spring a troll’s trap and we wind up engaged in arguments that we have no need in which to be. Some of these arguments are so bad on our psyche that occasionally we take them into real life, and thus accomplishing the troll’s job. Go back to what I was saying about people who stir the pot. There are people who just want to see the world burn and once we all get into a tiring circular debate, we may eventually notice that the one who instigated it is long since gone. If you don’t want the added stress of debating people on the internet, then no matter what you may see, if you don’t like it or what others are saying, just don’t comment. Again remember that some people are steadfast in their opinions and no matter what you present to them, they will not change their minds. It’s not always worth the aggravation of entering a debate knowing that it’s going to cause you stress. Sometimes you’ll see certain things posted, but just ignore it and move on.
Turn off and unplug
While this may be a bit drastic, if at any point the stress of social media depresses you, turn it off. While of course there are times that we may take a break, every individual knows what their breaking point may be. At some point, if being on social media becomes overwhelming, just simply turn it off. There are people who take breaks from social media for months at a time, and even others out there who have given it up completely. Many of us may balk at the thought of doing this, because how will you be the first one to see that new cat video, or how else will you find out about what your favorite celebrity is doing? Regardless of how you get your information, it’s always going to be available, but we all don’t need to fight to be first to get it. At the same time, if you want to preserve a peaceful state of mind and social media is ruining it for you, just give it up for a while and see what happens. It’s a good time to catch up with other events happening in real life and not have the anxiety of wondering what’s going on while you’re disconnected.
In summary, there are so many easy ways to combat stress and bullying on the internet but it’s up to each of us to figure out how we want to stop it. Ignoring the problem or trying to make ourselves have ‘thicker skin’ is not always the solution. There are a lot of tools that some social media sites have for us that allow us to combat cyber bullying that we readily ignore because we want to prove that we are tougher than our bullies, when deep down inside we are depressed because we have allowed a troll to say hurtful things and we allow ourselves to become helpless in stopping the bullying. If we all learn to use what’s been mentioned to stop bullying by limiting our posts, letting toxic people go, disengaging from cyber arguments and more, we would be a lot less stressed and more at peace.
If these tips don’t help, then click here for a list of services that you may try to stop bullying. Please remember, a person will only do as much as you allow them. It doesn’t cost anything to say no, and it takes nothing but a click to stop some people.