At this point in time, it is likely we have all experienced an uncomfortable exchange of opinions on a social media platform. We know that things can be easily taken out of context when there is no vocal inflection behind the written words, so misunderstandings happen frequently.

People seem to love expressing their opinions- especially when talking about things they don’t like.  Not liking a thing does not mean not liking a person, although sometimes it might feel that way.  The anonymity of a social media profile gives people the courage to say things that they would never say in real life.  A negative comment may be simply a different point of view from your own, but it feels like a personal affront to your very being!  You feel attacked!  Keep in mind that the commenter may not have bad intentions. Here is an example:

Wow. That was hurtful and unnecessary, but you can ignore it.  We don’t all like the same things and that is OK. But what if the comment really is malicious?  A person you may never have met is attacking your comment. Possibly they are using ALL CAPS; saying mean or mocking things; bullying; using offensive language, or just giving an opposing view, but expressing it in a hurtful way.

What is that about?! They didn’t need to make a comment. They could have scrolled past! You might feel the need to defend your post now, but think first… what will that accomplish? The original intent was to share something positive. If possible, respond with something productive or add a touch of humor to bring the exchange back to a positive place.

Of course, it is possible that any response may lead to additional negative comments from the unwanted commenter.  Sometimes the best advice is what we learned in kindergarten: If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.  One of the nice things about social media is that there are ways to express a feeling without words.  Instead of reinforcing the nastiness with a retort, just hit the comment with a sad face emoji- or the care emoji.  When you do not engage the commenter, they lose their sense of control over the post.

Other ways of handling mean comments are deleting them and possibly blocking the person who made them.  If the comments are really bad, consider reporting the person to the media platform.

In the future, perhaps it will become socially unacceptable to engage in such vicious dialog with people on social media platforms to the extent that it will happen less frequently.  Until then, take a deep breath and let the negative comments go.  Turn your attention to the people in your life who live outside of the computer screen!