Some time ago I had the novel experience of being abused on social media by a member of the Joomla! community (novel for me anyway, although I think not that uncommon in the Joomla world). It was a bit of a surprise, mainly because I don’t normally bother much with social media.
But unfortunately one of my previous blog posts went unexpectedly viral and clearly annoyed this person. At the time I was a bit shocked and upset at his response. I did think about responding in kind, because actually I enjoy insulting people as much as the next person when they are the ones that start it. But really I could not foresee anything good coming out of exchanging insults with him.
Then I realised something important: I actually just did not care.
I regard this as real personal growth: there was a time when I was abnormally sensitive and probably would have been crushed at someone saying mean things about me. It’s a huge relief, to realise that actually I don’t really care very much any more about what people think or say about me.
What I mainly put it down to is this. I have had cancer twice in the last four years. That’s an actual problem, it is something that matters. I don’t bang on about it, because it is private, but dealing with it has been really tough. But I have, and I am OK.
By contrast, a civilly-challenged person abusing me on social media matters very little. I have no intention of identifying him by the way, I really am over it. I do not even feel any ill will towards him.
So my advice on how to deal with mean people is this: if you find yourself caring about what someone says about you on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or whatever – just get a grip. It is not important. Go and do something that does matter: hug your children, or your spouse; take the dog on a lovely long walk; go out and have tea and cake with a good friend; paint a picture; play an instrument. Do anything that expands your life rather than contracts it.
There are a few people in the Joomla community who unfortunately seem to think that it is OK to indulge their own feelings of frustration by abusing others on Twitter and elsewhere. They are wrong, it is not. But they are like the mean kids at school, my mum always told me to just ignore them, and she was right.