Listen up, guys! The internet is a source for endless entertainment and information for sure. It’s a place for people to connect from all over the world on social media platforms which anyone would agree is awesome. After all, these means of communication offer a window into the lives of celebrities, politicians, minority groups and the general population, and when used correctly they can strengthen the bonds between humans. However, just like nobody is perfect, neither is the social media which has evolved into a platform where many people are compelled to start discourse. A quick scroll through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, or Reddit will quickly reveal that social media has become a breeding ground for toxic behaviors and harsh criticisms.
In a world where people are divided on so many issues like “who voted for Trump” or “who actually likes pineapple on pizza,” social media can feel like a safe space to share one’s opinions, be them good or bad. Unfortunately it is also a place where the popular opinions are seen as the wrong ones. Many people using social media find themselves caught in the net of discourse and cancel culture that resembles cyber bullying but has become socially accepted over time as the less “problematic” thing to do when confronted with something one does not like or agree with.
This kind of culture within social media can lead to people feeling isolated, depressed, anxious, or afraid to go onto social media. Nobody wants to log on to dozens of replies or DMs about how they’re a trash panda person. But the sad truth is that in this day and age it is unavoidable. So what can someone do when faced with inevitable criticism on social media (and at some point it is inevitable)?
The first and easiest thing is to just ignore it. On the internet people thrive on discourse, especially when they can jump on the “let’s rip this person to shreds” bandwagon. The best thing you can do when faced with negativity is to not read it or feed into it. Nobody can argue with you or start more drama if you refuse to engage after all. As a bonus, it always frustrates the haters!
If the criticisms become too much it is okay to defend yourself. Having your character attacked can be the worst feeling in the world, especially if it’s costing you followers. So, if you have something to say to counter whatever crap they’re spewing go for it! Just don’t go off like, “hey man so first of all F*k you!” One thing to never do is stoop to the levels of those criticising you. Try to avoid name calling, gratuitous profanity, or attacking the personality of whoever is trying to start a fight. If you do this, not only will you come across as the more reasonable person, but it will make people want to leave you alone. Nobody wants to engage in further criticism when the subject of their hate is being calm.
Now, not all criticism is bad criticism-- that’s important to remember! In the cases where you have someone who says something critical, but isn’t being mean, it might do you some good to try and see where they are coming from. Taking criticism can be hard, especially if you don’t ask for it, but on the internet where you cannot see the people offering the critiques it’s always important that you take a step back and evaluate whether what they are saying has merit or not. Again, this is only relevant to the criticisms that are offering help in a roundabout way, not the ones that are being toxic for the sake of it.
Granted, there are those who have more delicate dispositions and all criticism (especially if it’s not asked for) can be a harsh blow to their psyches. If you are one of these kinds of people, some advice to follow would include reporting those who are perpetuating the online abuse, and/or taking a break from social media as a whole. It is not a sign of weakness to engage in self-care by distancing yourself from negativity online, nor does it validate anything being said about you. Everyone, at some point or another in their lives, reaches a moment where enough is enough and they have to step back. If this is where social media criticism has left you, there is no shame in that. Take care of yourself before worrying about what others think of you. You matter, bro.
Last but not least, just remember: while the internet can be a shmorgishborg of negativity, misinformation, toxicity and hate, it can also be a place for creativity, beauty, positivity and community. You should never give up completely on social media if it’s something that brings you joy. Just like in life, there will be lows and highs on the hellsites that are social media platforms but they will pass. But hey, if you end up deciding that it’s not worth it to stay as an online presence because all it causes is misery, then go for it! Delete that account, be free of the gross people, live your best life! Just don’t regret your choices. And never let the haters get you down.