Social Media is changing how we communicate with others. The anonymity it offers has people choosing to say things they might not say when face to face with a person. We all can be a target, both personally, as a member or owner of an online community, or on our business pages. So, how do we deal with online trolling?
Do you see yourself as the victim of an attack? Are you aware that you are in control of the situation and do what is required, which can include reporting the person? Your initial reaction may be one way of your approach, and by working through it, you can change your point of view.
Our first reaction can be to defend ourselves or to go on a counter-attack. For example, feeling like you are a victim or have an attitude of, “how dare you”. Neither one works well as both can lead to more ‘trolling’. Before posting anything, get clear on where you are with the issue at hand. First, there is the internal preparation, and then the online response and action. Here are a few tips on productively dealing with the issue.
Ask questions and more questions
The purpose of asking questions is not to get an answer as we were required in school. Asking questions is to get awareness of what is going on and what is required. This goes both for you personally, and for the situation.
Therefore, be present with your initial reaction and ask yourself, “What is coming up for me? Are there memories being triggered? Is anger coming up? What point of view do I have about this?” Be really present with your responses and acknowledge them. There is no wrongness in anything that comes up. Can you let go of self-judgment? Going into self-judgment puts you into a victim position.
Another question might be, “What response seems to be required here?” A response is a thought-through action, while a reaction is like shooting from the hip without a plan or thought given to the situation. Do you need to say anything, or can you just ignore it? What will that create? How would you know?
Light – Heavy
Anything that is true for you will have a sense of lightness or expansion to it. Anything that is not true for you will feel heavy or contracted. Be aware that what is true for you may not be true for someone else. Applying this will guide you in choosing your response.
Continue to ask questions, and trust your intuition. You may also wonder if there is any validity to the statement(s). If so, can you be vulnerable enough to acknowledge it, without going into guilt or self-judgment? An attacker expects resistance and your defence or counter-attack. Vulnerability takes those away, and leaves them without anything to bounce off of. Or you can pretend by saying something along the lines of, “I was not aware that (fill in the blank) is the case. What makes you say it is?” Now you put the ball into their court, and they have to justify why they said what they said. Either they tone it down, do not respond, or go overboard so that everyone sees what is going on. In any case, you are better off.
Take control of online trolling
Ask questions to become aware of the possibilities you have. This allows you to take control of the situation. You are not yet posting anything. Choosing to respond, or not to respond, to be vulnerable are ways to take control of the situation. Are you reporting the person or not? Check-in with yourself. What feels light and what feels heavy. Reaction leaves the control with the attacker who can then continue to play their game. Is there a way to use this to your advantage by demonstrating what you and / or your business are all about?
What words to use when addressing online trolling?
I tend to start with writing what comes up and then read it out loud, or even better have someone read it back to me. That allows me to perceive the energy of it. Then I fine-tune what I wrote to make sure I convey what I desire to communicate. In a way, this requires me to get clear about what is going on for me, and where I want to come from.
Dealing with online trolling is not easy. A lot depends on how well you are able to work your way through the dialogue, and how personal you take what is being said.
About the author
Corinna Stoeffl is a counsellor, life coach, photographer, author and Right Voice for You facilitator. An Access Consciousness facilitator and mother of two, Corinna’s whirlwind and diverse career path has equipped her with a unique skill set, incredible sense of self-awareness and wisdom, which she shares with her clients, and children. Having always felt “different” and struggling to fit in, Corinna’s journey to self-acceptance culminated in her current career as a Being You facilitator, helping others find themselves, appreciate their unique qualities and use them to their advantage in life, relationships and career. Corinna recently contributed to the collaborative book Voices of the 21st Century. www.beinginawareness.com