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Little kindness with online bullies

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30th-Aug-2018       
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Tchiki Davis :
Are you hurling insults anyone that you disagree with, find offensive, or don't understand fully? Or are you choosing to be kind online, even when the person on the other side of the screen has been unkind to you? The truth is we can choose whether we want to respond to cyberbullying with hate, anger, and rudeness or respond by being thoughtful, kind, and considerate. Choosing the later is more likely to build your happiness, and the happiness of others.
I'll be the first to admit that handling online bullying can be challenging. Even here, in response to posts in this blog - a blog dedicated to helping people increase their happiness - people find ways to criticise, insult, and be unkind.
Indeed, discourse online has degraded as the Internet increasingly becomes an outlet for our worst impulses. Being on the receiving end of cyberbullying, or even witnessing it, can hurt, make us angry, and lead us to seek revenge.
We tell ourselves, I have to tell them what they're doing wrong so they'll do it right next time. But in the long run, this approach makes them feel worse, possibly leading them to amp up their bullying, and admit it, it makes you feel worse too. You might feel vindicated in standing up for yourself, standing up for others, or for expressing your point of view, but it only leads to more negative emotions for you, for them, and for everyone who passively reads these comments. If we keep up this negative cycle, we are all headed to a really dark place-a place where kindness, compassion, and civility are no longer valued.
When you read a nasty comment online, instead of appeasing your desire to be right, to change others, or to shame others for their comments, think of your comments in terms of what they can do for the person receiving them. When your goal is to give the other person a gift that helps them, your comments become acts of kindness instead of retaliations driven by hate.
Acts of kindness are the nice things that we humans do for each other unexpectedly or without a reward. These are acts that someone does for you or you do for someone else. Engaging in random acts of kindness forces you to focus on the needs and feelings of others. As a result, you feel more connected to others and they feel more connected to you.
Is it hard to practice random acts of kindness in response to comments that evoke negative emotions in you? Of course it is! That's why online discussions so easily go off the rails. But the truth is that it's up to us to change the dynamic. Here's how to do it:
. Question your assumptions. We see their actions and make assumptions. This can lead us to be the ones who treat people unfairly.
. Lead with questions and curiosity. Before jumping to conclusions, ask questions to learn about the situation better.
. Clarify the value of your feedback. If others are open to answering your questions, you will understand the causes of their actions.
But, does rational, kind, considerate conversation work on trolls? Sometimes it does. Sometimes we mistake a cyberbully for a troll. But usually trolls are a special kind of cyberbully - often the kind that wants to hurt you, get a rise out of you, or discredit you. So responding to trolls requires a different technique.
Here are some suggestions:
. Don't give them what they want. When you see other people being trolled, don't respond to the troll.
. Use trolling as a reminder to be kind to the person being trolled.
. Consider offering a random act of kindness to the troll in a private message.
With these tools in your toolbox, you can use cyberbullying and trolling as opportunities to practice kindness. As a result, you can start to build happiness from situations that otherwise might have harmed your happiness.

(Tchiki Davis is a consultant, writer, and expert on well-being technology. Courtesy -Psychology Today)

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