How to Deal with Hate on Social Media (Part 1)
An increasing issue that I am helping young people manage when they come to see me in my Fairford Leys therapy space is how to manage negativity on social media. Now, I’m not going to say that social media is a bad thing – I depend on it strongly to help advertise the therapy work that we do – but it can come at a price.
Sometimes people receive negativity on social media which can be so upsetting and disturbing and uncomfortable that it makes it seem like the whole thing is probably not worthwhile in the first place. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, but what you must do is be smart about how you’re using social media, who you allow access to it and who you let yourself get upset by.
I get my fair share of hate on social media and some of it can be quite vile and nasty and it used to bother me a lot. But it really doesn’t bother me anymore, because I have a couple of different strategies to help me go about dealing with it. Most of them come from having developed a better sense of resilience towards the comments that I might get.
For example, I know now that if I retaliate towards the nasty comments that I get, that may or may not pay off. So, I must evaluate that decision very carefully. In the past I have retaliated, and I have had it go both ways. One time I retaliated to a comment and managed to elicit an apology from the commenter in question. Equally, I have received comments that, upon inspection of the commenters profile, I know that nothing will come from my efforts, so I just left it.
It is often very useful to think to yourself ‘what is the situation in this person’s private life that is making them feel the need to leave these comments? And that those comments are okay to make?’ They have got to be in a pretty dark place themselves to be able to think in that way and for that reason I pity them. That is one side of it – to start thinking ‘okay, what is the other persons perspective on this?’
Another way that you can start building your resilience in this area is simply by changing the meaning that you give to the comments that they make. Essentially, all you are doing is looking at black letters on a white screen. The only reason that those words have meaning is because of the meaning that you choose to give them. If those hate comments were written in a different language you wouldn’t care because you wouldn’t understand what those words meant. And so, those words don’t mean anything to you. You do have the ability to disregard what is being said or at the very least think about those words in a different way. If you read those nasty comments in a silly accent, or a high-pitched voice like you’d been inhaling helium, then you wouldn’t feel the same way about it. The way in which we read these comments take away the power that the hateful person has intended for the message to be delivered with. If you find a way to read those comments in an amusing fashion, then they won’t have the same kind of power over you any longer.
The work that I do with families through NLP at my Hypnotherapy clinic in Fairford Leys helps families and the child to be fit to overcome the situation or event but it is also important to provide parents with guidance on how to understand the effect social media can have on their children and the family overall too.
The original version of this article was written by Gemma Bailey, director of www.NLP4Kids.org.
It was republished and rebuilt with additional content by NLP4KIDS PRACTITIONER Ian Davies