Are You A Toxic Person Online?
We all have those moments, where a mean word ruins our entire day.
Sometimes it’s a stranger online, or a person in the grocery store, Maybe it’s a little close to home? A ‘friend’ who exhibits duplicitous behavior. We have at one point or another in life, experienced the proverbial ‘snake in the grass’. However, there are times where you might actually be the toxic person online. Think maybe not? Read on and find out.
Raising healthy children extends more to just their dietary choices, but their mental well being also. Social media brings us in contact with others, we would never have heard of otherwise, and with that, their personalities. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of information, to continue to answer back to a conversation we would otherwise walk away from in real life. Sometimes, to actually care what a person half a world away is saying about us, to other people half a world away, simply because they couldn’t get their own way. If we want to raise mentally healthy children, we need to exhibit that behavior to them.
I recently had to explain to someone why I removed them from Instagram, from following them, and subsequently blocking them. When they emailed me to ‘warn’ of what their friends were saying. That it is this nearly laughable idea, that if you sacrifice your own mental health for another person, it’s not ‘enough’ and off to the naughty corner of failures with you! It was a toxic mess, bringing me anxiety that any idea I had. Would suddenly pop up bigger, better, brighter on their own feed. Friends, strangers, and once, my very elderly aunt received a message about their competing business, being bigger, better and yup, brighter.
The constant stream of messages every few weeks not inquiring to how life was, but how I could personally help them, and dammed if they were not answered quick enough. Not even a dying brother of one of our team was excuse enough to why we didn’t answer quickly enough. Banished to the hall of inactive activists.
Do you know what happened when I un-followed them from my space? Nothing. Not a thing. The world didn’t end, but I felt better, the anxiety disappeared, I enjoyed just being artistic again.
Maybe they can be better and brighter, but we all have our own paths, and as passionate vegans. It sometimes gets lost in translation, while vying for who is the biggest activist, the better creator, the biggest following. We trample on the passionate vegans we should be standing beside, forgetting that it’s not an AI at the other end of that e-mail or message, but a human who probably is a little more sensitive because they are a vegan. There is nothing you can do in their quest to be the best, but there is about your own behavior. If you are one of the people who feels that every message should be answered, every request for attention given prompt attention. It might be a good idea to read on, take notes, and get that vegan humble pie to go.
If you ever want to be known as something, be known as a kind and decent person.
When you’re in a heated moment online, stop and think of someone you love. What if they told you that they met someone that day and it was said to their face. Would it make you hurt, angry, upset? Does typing it out lessen the blow? (A little secret, it doesn’t) If someone is being toxic, block them, it’s that simple. You don’t need to get the last vitriol to ‘win’ the daily Facebook war. Is that person not vegan enough for you? who cares, if they are vegan. They are vegan. it doesn’t matter if they really don’t think honey should be off limits, but stay away from it anyway. This isn’t a competition, we don’t win a medal at the end of every week for veganism. What we do, is make people afraid to ask questions, to see if they could possibly live this life. That now someone had gotten their vegan tattoo, they can sit at the table, but those newcomers, no. Not vegan enough.
Be kind, in every aspect. Kind to your kids when you’ve one nerve left, kind to that person in your Facebook group who has asked the same question six different ways in the last hour, kind to consider all the people on your Facebook list before you post that comment about how ‘children are toxic’. It costs nothing to not be a toxic person online.
We would be considerate to friends having a bad day, give them some space to work out their emotions and deal with their own problems. That seems to have been throw out with the dishwater online. Constantly tagging, replying, getting more and more riled up, then WHOA… did that person just tell me to find a bridge to crawl under?! When someone online doesn’t answer you as quickly, or even at all. It is not about you. That person does not exist to serve you, answer you or benefit you. Maybe they don’t want to answer anyone today, maybe they don’t want to answer someone who only contacts when there is a useful purpose for them. Realizing this information will naturally make you more considerate. Did someone reply with a hateful rhetoric? It doesn’t mean you keep it going. Realize how toxic the conversation has gone, and step away from it.
Thinking of posting that great NYT article on why children shouldn’t be born, while posting pictures of your darling niece(s) a few days ago? With no context, or maybe no replies to anyone who put time and effort in to comment. Every action has a reaction, your two seconds of ‘this will show how vegan i am’, may hurt those very close to us, or strangers we befriended some day. You’re not showing how awesome and aware you are, it’s showing how utterly inconsiderate you are, to absolutely everyone in your life who sees it.
Refrain From Unsolicited Negative Feedback
Do not message or email someone to tell them you dislike them, feel indifferent to their work or life, decided not to watch their movie or attend their event or read their article, or think their work or life is bad. Unsolicited negative feedback is actually an unseemly form of effort designed to gain power over someone by conveying, dishonestly and indirectly, that they have no power or influence over you and that you view them as “just another person,” inaccurate because you likely wouldn’t tell “anyone” those things.
If you feel the uncontrollable urge to convey to someone that they have no power over you, or that you don’t care about them, try viewing their accomplishments and interests as existing independent of yours, so that you may one day live less in opposition to their interests than in actualization of your own interests, which can be derived in a considerate manner by focusing on things that you like, discerning why you like them and communicating sincerely with those who created them, until finally you feel the uncontrollable urge, instead, to convey non-rhetorical information to someone that you like. This paragraph is also helpful if you want to stop “shit-talking” but feel unable to stop viewing non-rhetorical information as “good” or “bad.”
We are human, and fallible, everyone screws up
a lot. Yet, it is our ability to reach out, say sorry and acknowledge that we hurt another person, said mean things that were possibly not true, or simple knew our actions would hurt someone and didn’t care. We cannot ask for everyone around the world to have compassion for animals, be peaceful in their world, while our own is mostly the chaos of the mean girls table. When our children see us apologize, to them for being too loud, or even online to a hastily replied to email. They model that behavior, we are their champions, the infallible to them. Show them the person you wish you are.