What to say when you fell the need to respond but don’t want to get pulled into the drama.
The Comments Section
Social media comments are in a world of their own. People seem to think they can say anything without any fallback or repercussions. When they get called out, they cry “free speech”! But what they don’t realize is that while they have the right to say anything they want, that doesn’t free them from the consequences of their comments. So how do you respond? Here’s how I send the trolls back to their caves.
I Know, Comments Happen
Let’s set the stage:
You’re scrolling through your social media of choice, and you come across an article of interest. You read it, enjoy it, and appreciate the view of the author.
You look at the number of comments. So many! You know you shouldn’t look deeper, because you know the comments are going to be hideous, mean, and hateful.
You click anyway. Down the rabbit hole we go!
Coping With Those Comments
You were absolutely right. You see a few positive comments, but many of them are, as you suspected, hideous, mean, and hateful. There are long threads of folks jumping on any person who speaks up against the hate, tearing them down and attacking them personally.
So, you feel bad. You want to do something. But you think, what’s the point? You can see how badly people have been reacting to anything positive about the article. The insults that are being thrown around, the attacks on their person, and the threats that are made.
Except, you really want to say something. Hate does not stand.
So how should you go about it?
First, Plan Your Comment Out
Okay, this might seem like a bit of overkill for a social media comment, but if you want to put something out there that will be strong and be seen, you need to make sure you’re covering all your bases.
Know your position, and be able to back it up with verifiable information. I know, people who are making these arguments often disregard facts, but I’ll get to that.
List your arguments in a clear order, making sure that they are easy to understand and relate to. Once you have your information, you’re ready to start putting it together.
Craft Your Response Carefully
Do your best to use simple and concise statements. Use neutral language. I know it’s hard, especially when you’re responding to someone who has said horrible things about something you care deeply about. But to reach your audience, you need to at least appear to be cool, calm, and collected.
This might go without saying, but I will say it anyway. Be on top of your spelling and grammar. Comment section trolls are going to be looking for any flaw they can find in your argument. Don’t make it easy for them.
Here’s the Kicker
You’re not writing for the person you’re actually responding to. Unless you’re Dylan Marron (check him out if you don’t know who he is), you probably won’t be able to convince them to change their views. They’re not on social media to learn. They’re on social media to troll.
You’re actually writing for the people who don’t know a lot about the topic and who are scrolling through the comments to see what it’s all about. You’re really writing for the people who are hurt and scared by all of the mean, cruel comments but can’t say anything because they’re terrified of identifying as part of the minority group.
You’re truly writing to help the people who just don’t know what to think. You’re giving them an alternate viewpoint and a chance to understand the issue better.
If all they ever see is hate, they’ll never know anything different.
And Then, Let it Go
Post your comment, and then leave it be. Unless you’re getting genuine questions about what you’ve written, don’t respond. Don’t engage in drama. Don’t encourage hateful discourse. That’s not the point. The point is to offer a different viewpoint. You can’t argue with folks who are determined to be right no matter what. So don’t.
You’re a Comment Section Hero
Stepping up and responding in this kind of situation takes guts, confidence, and strength. You’ve got this. If you feel unsure, just imagine yourself as someone reading those comments who is part of the community the article is written about. Nobody wants that. Nobody deserves that. Use your power and privilege to speak up for folks who can’t speak up for themselves.
Social Media is a Scary Place
I don’t know about you, but I have learned not to click on the comments. Most of the time. But when I do, I almost always feel the need to respond in some way. After many arguments that have gone absolutely nowhere, I’ve learned that these steps are the best way to deal with haters.
Do you have any suggestions? How do you confront hate?
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