Hi, I'm Dara!

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How To Deal With Online Trolls & General Unpleasantness.

The past few months have been...rough in these online streets. Most recently, the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day seemed to be the perfect time for some folks to proudly broadcast their racism.

I mean, a person can only take so many "Happy N*gger Day" tweets and images of the (NFSW!) 

Black Woman Chair

before she must log off, am I right?

*heavy sigh*

Online behavior is anonymous and, therefore, uninhibited. Despite the fact that

I'm

real and use my true identity, many choose not to operate this way. Thus, the emergence of The Troll, corrupting comment sections, tainting Twitter Mentions, defiling direct messages, and driving people to wine and/or chocolate since the internet began.

Originally, the impetus for this post was the impending onslaught of ick that is the inevitable reaction to Black History Month, but these tips will work on any of the doofs who take issue with your faith, your morality, the way you raise your kids, the look of your face, etc.

Here's how I will be managing the deluge of nastiness:

{image source}

1. Pause and take a breath (or even say a prayer).

When confronted with something awful, it's perfectly okay to feel emotional about it. In fact, many Tweeters are hoping for just that response. It doesn't make you weak; it simply makes you human. That's a good thing! The reality is that many people enjoy stirring the pot and welcome any and all attention, good or bad. However, taking a moment to check in with and care for yourself can ensure that

you

don't make the same mistake these dunces have made.

2. Assess.

Is this really a troll? If so, block/delete/report for spam and keep it movin'. Life's too short to devote to "Anonymous". If it's a post or tweet from someone you know, well, that mkaes things a bit more dicey. Is this idiosyncratic behavior or does it fall in line with his/her general worldview? If it's a momentary hiccup in judgment, consider cutting 'em some slack. If it's genuinely off-base, perhaps take the time to send a private message to get more information. If, on the other hand, this is simply reflective of their beliefs, you need to decide how much exposure you want. I deactivated my Facebook account, last summer, and it was the best decision I made that year. Sure, I miss out on the a few updates here and there, but I wouldn't trade it for the luxury of not being privy to everyone's ideas (especially around Election Time--yeesh!). It's perfectly fine to love someone dearly offline while choosing to unfollow or unfriend due to stark differences in politics, faith, etc.

3. Engage (calmly).

This step is optional and only something I recommend in rare circumstances. If I hadn't seen a handful of really amazing exchanges occur online, I wouldn't even include this. It's highly unlikely, but there may come a time when you have the opportunity to help a stranger see the error of his or her ways. Choose your words carefully, almost painstakingly. Because your emotions are heightened, the temptation will be to respond hastily. Don't. It'll only escalate the situation and break down communication. If the person seems receptive, keep doing what you're doing! If not, just end the conversation. There's no sense in going round and round when it becomes clear further progress will be made.

4. Log Off.

And for the love of all things holy, do something that brings you joy! Self-care is hugely important, especially if you spend a lot of time online. If it's a source of income, this step is imperative. Because you're utilizing it for your livelihood, you've got to regularly decompress and refill your mental, emotional, and spiritual stores in order to continue working. If I'm feeling up for it, I'll take a walk or, if leaving the house isn't an option, I'll just have a dance party in my room or play with my kids. Other times, I'll have a glass of wine (or tea, since I'm currently pregnant) and read a book, magazine, or the Bible. It doesn't matter

how

you care for yourself, just that you do it.

So, that's my plan, folks! For the most part--despite the tone of this post--I've had a blast being online. It has blessed me in so many ways. I've made friends, been exposed to a wide variety of thoughts and opinions, and even picked up a skill or two. The internet can be a beautiful, wonderful, powerful tool, but we do need to be aware of those who darken it with their own negativity.

What tips do you have for combating the junk that finds its way to you online? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. Be careful, though. I don't want to have to block you! ;)

Happy to be sharing this post at the

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Don't be afraid to receive the blessings.

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