Just recently a good friend was attacked by a couple of trolls on Facebook, and it got me thinking about the blessing and curse of social media. 

The blessing is how it keeps all together, sort of like the mortar between a wall of bricks. We’re able to communicate and stay in touch. For example, social media played a huge role in helping so many of us keep our sanity through the pandemic. But there is a curse…

To start, social media gives people the opportunity to behave badly! They hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens and write things they would NEVER say to your face. It’s also an opportunity for people to simply be misunderstood. 

Written communication is the most difficult way to express yourself. The reader doesn’t hear any tone in your voice and is missing all the body language that goes along with expression when you’re talking face to face.

And there’s one more ingredient that’s new to our world – we used to be able to disagree and then go to lunch. Now, people are so polarized that it’s a “my way or the highway” scenario. I’ve actually seen friendships dissolve simply because two people disagreed.

So, here are some suggestions:

  • First, read what they’ve written – not every person we think is a troll is necessarily in attack mode. This goes back to misunderstanding what they’ve written and it often just needs a response to ask them to clarify.
  • Don’t respond to trolls, when you’ve determined that they’re really on the attack.
  • Don’t engage in the discussion and play offense.
  • If you’re attacked in a public forum, hold back and see if other friends come to your defense. More than once over the years I was under attack and other friends jumped into shut down my troll.
  • Remember, you can always simply walk away and either leave the group or just remove whatever you posted. 

Last but not least – don’t take it personally. Most trolls don’t even know you – they live to be controversial. They thrive off of the energy of knowing you’re upset, and their ability to think they’ve established power.

The bottom line is that life is simply too short. Don’t waste your time on people whose opinions don’t matter. And when it comes to criticism of your photographs remember Dean Collins’ old line…

“Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!”

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