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Don't Feed the Trolls! How to Handle Toxic Social Media Moments

August 10, 2023 Brian R. King, MSW Season 1 Episode 1
Brian Can Help
Don't Feed the Trolls! How to Handle Toxic Social Media Moments
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Is social media stressing you out? Learn how to stay cool, calm, and collected when you come across upsetting posts and comments. Brian shares his best strategies to help you pause, gain perspective, take comments less personally, respond thoughtfully, and lead with compassion. Discover how simple analogies can provide clarity when you're feeling overwhelmed online. This practical advice will allow you to navigate social media in a healthier, more constructive way.

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Show Notes

In this episode, you'll discover:

  • Why it's important to hit the pause button and step back when something online upsets you. Taking a moment to gain emotional distance helps provide perspective.

  • How to avoid taking social media attacks personally. Understand that other people's anger often stems from their own issues, not your worth or value. 

  • The value of letting your emotional temperature cool down before responding. Don't react in the heat of the moment. Wait until you have a calm head. 

  • Why responding compassionately and giving others the benefit of the doubt prevents situations from escalating. Lead with empathy and understanding.

  • Actionable analogies to simplify key concepts:
    • Stepping back from an overwhelming TV screen
    • Dealing with aggressive drivers on the highway
    •  Cooling a hot pan in the freezer

This informative and uplifting episode provides listeners with actionable tools to navigate social media in a more mindful, composed manner. Tune in to enhance your emotional intelligence and take control of your online interactions.

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Hello, my friend, this is Brian. Social media can be a great way to connect with friends or business prospects and keep up with what's happening in the world, for better or for worse. But they can also be overwhelming and upsetting when you come across something that upsets you, whether it be a post a video, whatever.

And today I want to talk about some strategies for dealing with those moments on social media. When you become really upset by a post or a comment. I'll give you some analogies and examples to simplify the concepts and make them easier to understand.

The goal here is to give you some workable tools to navigate social media in a healthy way. sound good to you, then let's dive in. First, when something upsets you, it's important to pause and consider why it bothers you so much. Why do you even care. Hitting the pause button like this can help you gain some emotional distance. It's called externalizing.

I think of it as taking a step back from the TV screen, or your phone or iPad or whatever device you're using. And if you're too close, the image can feel overwhelming. But if you take a step back a few feet, you can see the whole picture a lot better. And realize it's just a picture on screen. It's just a meme. It's just a video.

Similarly, if we pause before responding, this is a habit people have gotten out of if they've learned it at all. If you pass before responding to anything upsetting, whether it's social media post, or in life, you gain perspective. Ask yourself, why does this make me so angry or anxious or sad? Why am I triggered by this? Is it related to a deeper personal issue or insecurity that you have?

When we become clear about the reasons for our reaction, we can respond in a more thoughtful and controlled and deliberate way. It's also important to not take what you see posted on social media. So personally, it's easy to perceive an attack or criticism on social media as a direct attack on you. Most of the time, however, it has more to do with the other person's state of mind than our own worth.

They could have been angry by something that happened in their personal life. And then they post something generally. And you somehow fit yourself into that category. And you believe it's about you. I like to compare this to driving on the highway. We all know those moments when someone cuts us off, or aggressively. tailgates? Well, those of us who have driven and on the highway know what this is like. And in the heat of the moment. It can feel very personal.

I mean, even the thoughts in your head, hey, you know, what are you doing? cut me off like that. So it's like the person has it in for you, because you feel like you're in danger because of their behavior. But in reality, this aggressive driver might just be having a rough morning, the left house late, they're afraid or not looking forward to something that's going to be happening at work, and it affects their driving. But their behavior doesn't reflect poorly on you, or your value as a driver or human being.

Similarly, the angry behavior of others on social media. And let's be honest, there can be a lot. It's almost never personal. People post angry or insensitive things online because of their own profits and their ways of thinking. not because there's anything wrong with you. You know, the old adage hurt people hurt people. It absolutely applies here. So again, learning to respond thoughtfully, if at all, you do have that option is key here.

When we're upset our first instinct is often to react and lash out with a comment to vent our frustration. But reactive communication rarely makes the situation better. It can even make you look bad or out of control. So give yourself time and space to calm down and decide if and how you want to respond. You can think of it like putting a hot pan in the freezer. If you try to touch the pan while it's scalding hot, you're burning yourself. But once you let it cool down, it can become manageable by waiting to respond to you have a cooler head you to prevent yourself from making the situation worse, because you're heated instead of thinking clearly.

So pausing allows you to decide if a response is even helpful. Or if it's better to just let it go and move on, walk away. Now my last suggestion is to practice compassion, before you engage compassion to yourself, for the emotions that are coming up with you, instead of saying, I shouldn't feel like this. It's wrong for me to feel that way. The reality is, you are thinking and feeling that way. So extend yourself some compassion, and allow yourself to calm down by being supported. Instead of having to shut those emotions down, or stick them in a corner will show up later, as maybe a headache and neck ache or stomachache.

Compassion informed, we back up a little bit. compassion towards them, can be informed by putting yourself in their shoes. And maybe having some insight into what reasons might have compelled this post. So that if you respond, you're responding from that place of understanding. Because again, chances are they're dealing with their own stuff, even if it's not obvious. Because Speaking for myself, we can become stellar at what's called masking is pretending we're happy and have it together when we're actually twisted up inside. showing compassion also reminds us of our common humanity.

I think of it as giving someone the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they're well intended, even if their delivery leaves something to be desired. And let's be honest, wouldn't you like it if when you made a mistake, or were not at your best for some reason, that someone extended some compassion towards you, to give you the space to self correct.

Compassion not only helps us respond with calm and openness instead of anger. It could also prevent the situation from escalating further. Well, friends, that's an overview of some of my tips on what you can do when social media gets you down. Pausing, not getting too personal, cooling down before responding. And leading with compassion are strategies that help us stay grounded, focused and in control during those difficult moments.

Let's face it social media is here to stay. So it's important to learn to interact in a healthy way that protects our mental well being. Thanks for listening. We'll see you on the next episode.

Pause and consider why something bothers you
Take a step back emotionally - externalizing
Pausing before responding gives perspective
Ask why you're triggered - related to a personal issue?
Compare to aggressive driving - not about you
Putting a hot pan in the freezer analogy
Compassion prevents escalation, helps us respond calmly
Stay grounded when social media is difficult