There was a time when angry online ranters could be dismissed as “trolls.” Increasingly though, it feels like online discourse has not only become more polarised, but also generally angrier in tone. Therefore it is worth looking at what we see online, how we can address it and what we can do ourselves. Find out why we think people should be kinder online in this article!
Cost of living stress?
One potential factor is the effect the cost of living is having on our lives- more people are stressed, because they are struggling to make ends meet and often are having to work longer hours, take on additional jobs all whilst trying to balance work and family life. They may have lost their job or income stream, or they’re suffering from anxiety and uncertainty about the future.
It’s all ‘too much’ for some and it’s having a very negative effect on people’s personalities. Routines are disrupted and many feel trapped or isolated.
Anger is growing and tempers are flaring.
Social patterns have also changed as many don't have the disposable income to go out to socialise and this has a compounding effect on people’s behaviour. The result is that there are fewer opportunities to vent frustrations and this cooped up anger is now spilling over into the digital world.
The wrong targets
While there is nothing wrong with discussion, there is the danger that we are targeting our negative feelings towards the wrong people. It could be in the form of nasty comments directed at someone on social media or leaving a disproportionately bad review on a company’s website.
An example of this is an artisan craft company used social media to proudly post images of their newly made metal sculptures that were for sale. This resulted in the seller receiving horrid abuse, with people making fun of their creations, devaluing their work and encouraging the artisan to give up and ‘get a day job’.
Sadly, so many businesses fall victim to this cruel online abuse and it needs to stop. Let’s work together to make online abuse ‘uncool’.
Another danger is people can develop a ‘pack mentality’, where they spontaneously target a particular person or subject as part of a wider group, without little thought as to the consequences of their comments.
This abuse has discouraged a lot of businesses from being active online and numerous people have removed themselves from social media due to the amount of abuse they have received, often for something that was personally beyond their control.
How to be better online
Before you post online, it’s worth asking the following questions:
Would I say this to the person if they were in front of me?
Do I have to mention this publicly or would it be more constructive to work this through with the business directly.
Is this contributing to the conversation or am I trying to stroke my own ego?
Can I admit when I’m wrong? There is no shame in admitting a mistake!
Have I done my bit to address abusive behaviour? Do not be afraid to report trolls, intimidating behaviour or anything inappropriate.
We can all be kinder
The truth is nobody is perfect. At some point we may slip up and say things in a tone that we’d regret later, but especially in these tough times, it’s imperative to watch our reactions, our comments and the way we interact with others.
What we need to strive for is a kinder online environment, where people can have more constructive conversations and feel free to promote their business, without a backlash of nastiness.
Let’s all make a concerted effort to be kinder. Let’s help to build and not break down. Let’s restore confidence in people and businesses, so that when we look back, we don’t hang our heads in shame at how we reacted to the people around us.
It may be a cliché, but it’s worth remembering: It costs nothing to be kind.
So next time you leave a frustrated comment, just remember, be kinder online!
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