online bullying

It really took me by surprise. One minute I was having a happy, productive, stress-free working day and the next I was a quivering mess full of doubt, fear, and negativity.

… all because of two comments!

As you probably know, I post regular videos on Facebook giving tips and ideas to business people around Facebook marketing. I’m pretty confident as I know my stuff, so I just say it as it is. My ‘no fluff’ videos have been liked and shared and received loads of positive comments ever since I began.

Then it happened.

Two comments appeared on my post – negative ones – from two people I don’t know.

Now when I say negative, I really mean scathing, judgemental and bordering on bullying.

Yep, these two really went to town.

Apparently…

  1. My face was too close to the camera
  2. My nostrils are too big and
  3. They were offended that a ‘giant face’ was taking up space in their Facebook newsfeed!

Now you may be reading this and thinking what you would have done if that happened to you:

“Ignore them”
“Just delete the comments”
“Engage in some witty banter”
“Block the bas#@%ds”
“Have a laugh and get on with it.”

Here’s what really happened.

  • I immediately reacted and deleted the post.
  • I felt embarrassed.
  • I felt ashamed.
  • I started spiralling into a state of depression.
  • I cried.
  • And I lost all confidence in my abilities… and myself in general.

Needless to say, I was not in a happy place.

It affected my ability to focus, to trust myself, to be vulnerable and my mind was filled with a whole pile of negativity.

Thankfully, after my little pity party, I had time to sleep on it. I started to rally and realised there is a much better way to react to this kind of bullying.

If this had happened to one of my clients, I would have suggested the following:

  1. Don’t delete, respond or block anything or anyone.
  2. Immediately step away from the computer.
  3. Take some slow, deep breaths.
  4. Make a cup of tea, or a strong coffee to calm your nerves.
  5. Take a break, some time out, put your feet up and keep breathing.
  6. If you feel to, call a business partner or close friend and talk constructively about the comments.
  7. Decide on a positive response to these negative comments. Be the bigger person in the situation.
  8. Reflect on the comments in a constructive way. Ask yourself “Is there something I can learn from this that will improve me, or my business?” Perhaps I do need to stand further away from the camera… or investigate nostril reduction surgery? (Just kidding!)
  9. Respond ONCE to these comments in a positive light and don’t encourage or engage in further conversations with the person or people.
  10. Take as long as you need to adjust your mindset and remove any negative thoughts about yourself. Once your head is straight and you’re thinking clearly again, you might actually see the gift in the whole situation.

As for the response, I would suggest something like:

“Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback on how I can improve my business. I am always looking for ways to grow and service my clients better.”

So why didn’t I take my own advice?

Well, because I am human after all! I let my emotions and negative thoughts take over.

If things do get out of control, make the call as to whether to delete the post. You don’t want to have to constantly defend yourself or deal with a situation that is escalating out of control.

In Facebook groups, you sometimes have to ability to turn off the comment feature which prevents further comments to be made.

Whichever approach you take, learn from my experience and don’t let your emotions take control. Have a little cry by all means. Let it all out, but only once you’ve removed yourself from the computer. Tears can wreak havoc with your keyboard!

Here are some reminders to post somewhere handy if or when a situation arises.

Reminder 1: People are entitled to their views and to have their say.
Reminder 2: What other people think of you is none of your business.
Reminder 3: One (or two) people’s opinion is not EVERYONE’S opinion.
Reminder 4: Nobody can take your power away without your permission.
Reminder 5: You are a good person, a worthy human being, an all-round nice chick (or guy)
Reminder 6. Don’t give up.
Reminder 7: You’ve got this!