I’ve made some mistakes, y’all and I am so grateful for them. Through my mistakes, I have learned about myself, about others, and about how I want to exist in this world.
Much of my work is done online in social media spaces. That is where I host my group, where I do most of my marketing, and where I keep up with friends from across the country and around the world. It’s also where I make some of my biggest mistakes and where I came to my latest revelation.
Pain is at the root of the pettiness.
You may see the clapbacks, the drags, the ‘coming for’ folx as manifestations of anger. I did too for quite a while. Now I see the pain beneath the anger and that has changed everything for me. When we have pain that we haven’t resolved we lash out. Now, I’m not here to talk about whether that lashing out is justified or when and how it may be appropriate. I want to examine where it comes from.
I can only speak for myself of course, and I’m not a pro at pettiness by any means. There has really only been one thread on social media that I began that was what you’d call a clapback and it was born out of pain. I thought it came from a place of anger. There was definitely anger involved, but if it had simply been anger or exasperation I would have rolled my eyes and moved on. Why couldn’t I let it go? Why did I feel the need to publish my rage in as sarcastic a way possible – a way I was sure would garner attention? Why couldn’t I “go high”? Because I was hurt.
Hurt people hurt people.
I’m sure you’ve all read that before. The more I pay attention the more I see how deeply and profoundly true that simple statement is.
So what can we do about it? How can we practice self-care in the face of our own hurt and anger? What boundaries can we set to protect ourselves from each other’s pettiness and pain?
This is what I have been exploring this morning with the help of a dear and wise friend and here is what I have come up with:
- No vaguebooking. If I need to speak to a person I will reach out directly. If I’m not ready to do that I will keep my thoughts off of social media.
- 24 hour review. Before I post anything negative I will give myself a full day to breathe and reflect. There will be no more knee-jerk reactions.
- Copy and paste. There are some things that trigger me intensely. I’m creating responses for those things now when I am not triggered so that I can copy and paste them when I am.
- Nancy Reagan. When I see pettiness online (whether I agree with it or not) I am going to just say no and walk away. I can’t engage in it when I agree with the target and decry it when I don’t. Hypocrisy doesn’t suit me.
These are my rules. This is how I will be taking care of myself in online spaces moving forward. I can’t see how spreading the pain helps anyone. I do know for sure that I no longer welcome it in my life.
How do you handle tricky situations online? Do you get sucked in like I do? How do you protect yourself ? I’d love to hear your experiences and ideas.
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