The title is a bit dramatic and it’s not about online dating. Though that WOULD be fun. It’s about how to survive out there. How to develop a thick skin without losing your heart and your ability to share online. It can be tough. For some reason people think that they can say whatever they like online. I’m not one of them. I think you need to keep your manners in check. But THAT is also a different post. Unfortunately I think it’s just the way it goes. So I thought what the heck, I deal ok, I’ll share with you how.

My Mum can be a bit bad at email. She can be too emotional and not factor in the context and tone. Or if she does, she doesn’t give enough room for error or misunderstandings. Often she will shoot off a punchy reply, laced with tone you can’t miss and a bit of back and forth starts. I see it all the time. You get a comment and it says something awkward and perhaps badly worded. Your gut reaction is to defend yourself. For me, fight back even. But often {not always} a change of context makes all the difference, a clearer head before responding.

Consider that most of the people who say horrible things online don’t know you. They make assumptions. Hit out at someone they DO know through you. Except, you know, you have no idea who the heck this person is you’re bearing the brunt for. But really, if someone doesn’t know you and has a few paragraphs you’ve written on which to judge you {or a single photo} then that really is their problem not yours. Let it sting for a moment and forget it. It’s not worth the keystrokes it was written with.

Or they are probably just jerks. No really. Would you give someone you KNOW is a jerk free range to call you what they like and have you believe them? Heck no! If yes, maybe you need some assertiveness training or something, just saying. So why let them behave that way online. I block or delete these comments of Facebook {always reporting them as abusive} and remove them from my blog when they {rarely} occur. I invite open dialogue here, not flat out insults to me or to my readers. You should consider doing the same.

Don’t take the bait on those controversy driven websites and pages. Ever. Ignore the dribble and move on. Often by contributing to the conversation you are not only prolonging the conversation but fanning the flames. Don’t feed the trolls people. Just don’t do it. Why say to someone who is clearly horrible and ignorant that they are horrible and ignorant? It’s not like they are going to say, OMG, YES! You are SO right. Let me change my evil ways and repent. Ummm, not likely. And all that happens is now YOU are in the firing line for their venom.

If all else fails walk away for a while. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that those people live in the computer and at any time, if you wanted or needed to you could pull the plug and walk away. Sure it would be sucky to throw away all you’ve created but if it came down to your health or your page, you could and you probably would. I know I would. Don’t give them more power than they actually have. You hold the cards. Keep that firmly in mind.

So there you go. I hope it helps someone to protect themselves a little better. Did it? How do you protect your heart online?

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