How To Not Be An Asshat On The Internet
It was a typical Monday morning, I awoke to the comforting hum of my next-door neighbor’s air conditioning unit. I picked the crusty gunk from my eyes, rolled over, and began the first step of the millennial’s morning ritual: checking my phone.
I opened my email and scanned through what I received that morning. News, jeans on sale, Twitter, Reddit, newsletters…
Then I saw it: a new comment on one of my articles. As I began reading, I felt my eyes get lost in the back of my head as I rolled them with the utmost annoyance.
Another comment from an asshat.
One who has their head up their ass. Thus wearing their ass as a hat.
The man, we’ll call him Barry, had clearly been following my articles for quite some time. He cited several facts about my life, two true and one falsely assumed. Barry asked, “WTF has this world come to?” That I, a 27-year-old with no formal training in dating advice, was, in fact, giving dating advice.
And you’re right, Barry, WTF has this world come to? That an article on Medium from a random girl in LA could get you that worked up.
I don’t write my articles for everyone. If I did, they’d be bland and vague; that’s not my style. And, as Barry stated, since I’m not a professional in a particular field, I write what I know about: being a millennial in a world that’s squashing our sense of self every day and where technology is ruining the fun of dating.
Because I’m a millennial female, who has been dating for over a decade. What I’m not is a man, presumably in his 40’s, trolling female writers on Medium.
So why be an asshat if you don’t like my writing?
It’s one thing to think a nasty comment about someone. It’s another actually to write it out.
I’m not here to make assumptions behind the asshattery words posted in the comments of my articles. What I am here to do is call out this behavior.
Because, as many people suggested, I can do one of two things: ignore the comment or leave a neutral reply.
I’m choosing the third option: publicly calling out people that spread hate on the internet.
Will this feed the beast? Perhaps. But maybe I’ll get across to just one asshat. In which case, I’ll be a perfectly happy girl.
I’m all for free speech. Go ahead and get feisty about how our country is being run by a xenophobic ex-reality star. Get mad that our world is deteriorating for the sake of the white man’s profit.
But berating my choice to be a dating columnist because you think I’m not qualified?
If you don’t like my articles, Barry, don’t read them.
There’s always going to be people in this world doing something you don’t like. If that weren’t the case, there’d be one solidified “Korea” and a whole lot less Kardashian products.
Learning how to deal with people different than us is something we typically learn in the schoolyard. Little Suzy preferred playing dress-up while you wanted to collect rolly pollies, but you all came together as soon as your teacher uttered the words “capture the flag.”
We learn to play together because it’s an essential human skill.
If not, it would be a free for all in this world. Could you imagine the madness?
So much hate already exists in today’s political climate. There’s no need to leave nasty comments that do nothing but tear people down.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, Shit. I, too, am kind of a troll. I don’t want to be a Barry.
Well, you’re in luck. Because there are a few steps you can take so you’re not an asshat on the internet:
Take a couple of breaths or a walk
When we’re caught up in emotions, we sometimes do things we regret later. If you’re finding yourself especially wound up and typing faster than you can think, take a few breaths. Better yet, go for a walk.
You may find that after you remove yourself from the internet for a bit, you’re less inclined to post what you were going to.
Then everyone wins, yourself included.
Imagine that you’re talking to a real human being
Because you are.
The internet is the most disconnected, connected space we’ll ever experience. We can talk to anyone in the world with the “send” of an email. But it also means that we’re interacting with words on a computer screen.
Body language, tone of voice, and an actual human face are removed from the equation, all essential parts of communication. It’s easy to forget that you’re talking to a real human being with feelings that’s going through struggles just like you.
Ignore your impulses
When I see a puppy walking down the sidewalk, my instinct is to squish its tiny face. My teeth literally clampdown from this reaction. But do I give in and hurt that puppy? Hell no.
The same goes for the urge to leave nasty comments. You’re not a victim to your impulses; you can practice self-control.
Your comments leave lasting impressions on people. Don’t carelessly throw them around because you think it won’t matter. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you, but it sure as hell does to someone else.
Consider why you’re so triggered
Mean comments are left for a reason.
There had to be something I wrote in my post that triggered Barry. One, or all, of my tips, must’ve struck a nerve for him to call out my authority.
And that’s completely ok. We’re human; random things are bound to trigger us.
Instead of posting nasty comments, though, consider why it is you’re triggered. Are you struggling in your own dating life? Do you feel really sensitive about the subject the article is talking about?
Most of the time, our triggers are really telling. If we can pinpoint what causes them, we can begin to work through them and experience spectacular growth.
Trolls have been trolling for as long as comment sections have been around. I don’t expect to end the epidemic. But when it comes to posting thought-out comments that are unnecessary and filled with pure hate, maybe I can put a dent in those.
Because there are enough asshats in this world. Don’t be one too.