How to Stop Letting the Internet Make You Angry
Because it's not worth it!
The internet, especially social media, can be an infuriating place. But it doesn’t have to be.
Obviously, we are always going to come across information and stories online that upset us. For me on a typical day, this might be news that yet another man has stolen a woman’s medal in a sporting event. This is not necessarily a consequence of the internet but of the world. What I try to do, at least, is not let the stupidity on social media compound the stupidity of the world.
Usually, I find, it’s other individuals on the internet that make us the angriest. As someone who spends a lot of time on X, here are some ways I think that can be avoided.
Always assume sarcasm
I have to say: the source of much of the drama and consternation I see on social media comes from missing sarcasm. While I have a lot of sympathy for the reasons that people can miss sarcasm (and I won’t pretend it does not happen to me as well), I have written before about how I believe a huge reason why it happens is that, if we’re being honest, people desire to be outraged.
There is so much sarcasm and satire and hyperbole on the internet that I sometimes wonder how someone who tends to take it all seriously gets through one quick scroll through their timeline without blowing a fuse! I think you’d come away with a very different view not only of social media but also of people in general if your first assumption when seeing an unbelievably over-the-top post is “this person is stupid and insane” rather than “this person must be joking.”
That’s why I always try to assume satire first. Am I often disappointed? Yup. But at least my blood pressure isn’t spiking with every joke I see.
Don’t blow things out of proportion
Dealing with trolls and critical comments is another surefire way to get the blood pressure spiking. And it’s true that being inundated with such comments is not a fun time. But if it’s just a little bit of pushback, it’s better not to blow it out of proportion.
For example, I’ll often see someone make a post that gets an overwhelmingly positive reception save one or two dissenters—and they focus on the dissenters! Likewise, it can feel like that random troll is targeting you but, in reality, they just bounce around being a dick to everyone they reply to, and it isn’t really as personal as it seems.
Let me be clear that I wouldn’t dream of telling people how to engage with critics and trolls. Sometimes, I like to have fun and hold them up as an example myself. But, if you find yourself getting angry and you’re not having fun anymore, it can help to remember to keep things in perspective.
Let it go
The wonderful thing about the internet is that you always have the ability to log off. Close the laptop screen. Put down your phone. Disengage. Mute. Block. Do whatever you have to do to remove the temptation to focus on what’s happening on the screen. One second you may feel the overwhelming urge to reply to someone who left a stupid comment, and five minutes later you go to make some tea, and something vastly more important—like a cute squirrel running by the window—catches your attention and you forget it all.
I don’t fully agree when people say that “Twitter isn’t real life.” A lot of what goes on there absolutely affects “real life.” But an argument with a stranger online that causes you nothing but frustration certainly isn’t, and worse, it’s a waste of time and energy. The good thing is you can always just let it go.
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