We all share an idea about social networks : there is too much toxicity in them. It is not that they are bad in themselves, it is that it seems that people get the worst of it in their publications, messages, comments … There is a lot of talk about these issues, and we have already made various reflections as to how the anonymous character , immediate and feeling that you can finally talk to anyone or let off steam at ease lead us to this negativism and conflicts associated with them .

The consequences are that we get in a bad mood , even sad, we think that the world has no remedy, or we even create an illusion that what happens on social networks is the reality beyond our doorstep. If we put our opinion, someone throws it down in very bad ways; if someone says something that seems outrageous to us, we need to try to see how wrong they are , leading us back to reprimand, sometimes in terms in which no one would speak to us face to face. Ultimately, we create an irritating mood for issues that are not really relevant to our lives.

Is it just the others?

It is clear that, who more and who less, the majority of users of social networks have had moments in which we have felt attacked and insulted in social networks. They have spoken to us with genuine anger and contempt, condescension or pretending to humiliate us.

However, we encourage you to do a reflection exercise: have you ever answered someone to contradict him? And how did you do it? Maybe not insulting, but making him believe that he is a stupid or uneducated person? With a passive-aggressive joke? With an adjective that you wouldn’t use in person? But are you thinking is that your message or your answer was justified?

Now we invite you to think about these other questions. Think of 2 or 3 situations in which there has been a negative conversation on social networks, and try to respond in writing, on a sheet of paper, to these doubts for each of the situations:

    • What direct consequences did your message have? (They answered, no, they blocked you, someone else supported you, they insulted you …)
    • How do you think your message has influenced the general opinion that person had on that topic?
    • Who and how did you settle the issue or stop continuing the conversation?
    • What emotions did you feel when it ended?
    • Did you reflect on that conversation again at any other time?
  • Are you unable to remember more than one or two situations that you have experienced like this on social networks?

And the final question: do you feel like having a discussion of this type on the internet again?

Use networks responsibly

It also happens that in social networks we tend to vent when something in our day to day frustrates us. Thus, we find tweets or messages on Facebook or Instagram about how bad we have slept, the worst food they have given us in a restaurant, how outraged we are after seeing the news.

By this we do not mean that social networks should become a nest of positive messages, which can irritate us as much or even more than negative ones. Simply, we can put a greater filter on what seems relevant or not to be shared . The ability to share messages in a massive way does not mean that we have to.

These are some proposals that we leave you to avoid that your next messages are toxic:

    • As we have recommended in this article, Tips to prevent social networks from hurting us , remove from your sight on social networks all messages that put you in a bad mood (although companies increasingly make it more difficult for us).
    • When you write a message or text that you want to share, before giving to send, leave it in drafts for about 50 minutes, and then come back and see if you want to publish it: is it to complain? Is it relevant? How do you think writing this can help you?
    • When you see a message that bothers you a lot, do the same, this time stay away from it for 10 minutes and start doing something else. Then come back and reflect on what we said above.
    • When you see a message that violates Human Rights and fuels hate speech (it is xenophobic, racist, homophobic, sexist, aporophobic, etc.), report it to the social network.
    • Let the passage of time act and the messages disappear on their own. Thus, do not retweet messages that irritate you, because this way you can give visibility to that publication, provoke a bad mood in the people who follow you, and contribute to more toxic messages being sent.
    • You tend to share more positive news than negative.
  • It prioritizes sharing content more related to culture, that always enriches us all.

Can’t you bear so much injustice? Act in other ways

In social networks we can tend to intensify the scope of opinions, that is, believe that they are more numerous and socially relevant than what is seen in social behavior, or even scare us to think that there are many people who defend causes that seem unfair to us , or be an impediment to social advancement.

We encourage you to channel those feelings into activities that can be useful and help you feel better. For example, if you are tired of finding sexist messages on social networks, and you think that letting them pass will not do more than feed that trend, find a way to fight against it on the street : feminist groups, awareness campaigns, cultivate with feminist readings, etc. That the rejection of immigrants and refugees is too normalized? You can support or carry out volunteer activities in associations or NGOs that are dedicated to supporting these social groups. You can also channel it towards the creation of cultural content (writing stories, poetry, painting, making songs, creating a reading or debate club, etc).

We do not want this to be a message of “close the computer and go outside to do something”, which is also very guilty , but do not let those negative feelings eat you up inside . Perhaps they are the motivation to want to contribute socially to just causes, since the discourses are changed and created with collective actions, but not by getting angry with the one next door. Because maybe we can make your opinion shut up in networks, but we will not be changing it. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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