If you participate in any online community including message boards, blogs, or Yahoo! Answers, you have likely encountered a fair number of negative people. Negative people will often inundate you with negative posts or bad comments.
Visit the Yahoo! Financial message boards, and you will see that the bulk of postings are content free and negative.
Other online communities, such as Facebook and Hubpages are much better, but negative people still abound.
Why are there so many nasty people online?
What do they gain from their online negativity? And how do we deal with these negative people?
Why So Many Negative People?
1. It is easier to spread online negativity.
“It is easier to pull down than to build up” ~~[Latin Proverb]
Criticizing and destroying someone else’s ideas take very little thought, whereas building upon an idea and making it better takes creativity and a fair chunk of time.
Still though, one can just say nothing.
So why be negative?
- Some people like hearing themselves talk.
- Some people feel better about themselves when they put others down.
- Some people think it is witty or clever to use sarcasm.
- Some people feel emotionally rejected when their praise is ignored, so it is safer to criticize.
- Some people are having a bad day, so they lash out at others.
- Some people want to cause fear, sadness, or embarassment in others because it makes them rich or powerful. (e.g. short sellers, politicians).
- Some people don’t know they are being negative.
2. It is easier to believe in the negative.
It is human nature to skip over or disbelieve the praise, and hold on to the criticism.
Negative online comments affects us more so we respond more quickly and more frequently to it, and we also remember it for much longer.
Because negative comments often get the most responses, some people are negative just to be heard.
3. It is easier to assume the worst.
Online comments do not usually have the best written, most well thought out prose. Many are quickly written, while the author is multi-tasking on other computer tasks. As a result, online comments often get misconstrued negatively.
When there is lack of clarity …
it is human nature to assume the worst.
4. It is easier to resist change.
Accepting new ideas is difficult.
When a new thought is suggested, our reflex is to shoot it down. In fact, that is what we are taught to do in our education system. “Critical thought” has been so warped in our society that many understand it as being critical of others; rather than thinking critically inside our heads.
We can exercise critical thought without expressing our thoughts critically.
Dealing with Negative People Tip 1
You cannot fight fire with fire.
Our reflex is to respond negatively to something negative. Often, this just makes things worse and very quickly escalates into a flame war. In the end, nothing is learned and everybody walks away unhappy.
The best way to fight negative people is through positive communication. Reward comments that you like, and ignore or delete comments that are negative and content free.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to respond to a negative comment that has good content. In such cases, be as unemotional as possible, and make your arguments with just the facts. If you are able to phrase things positively then so much the better.
Use humor and common ground to dispel negative feelings. Criticism, and insults push people away from your way of thinking; while information, positive language, and humor, may bring them closer.
Many people respect the Dalai Lama and go to him for advice. The Dalai Lama is a very intelligent man who has many insightful things to say; but the key reason so many people flock to him is because he elevates their spirit. He doesn’t use critical or judgemental language, and he has great empathy for others.
When you use positive reinforcement, everybody learns something, and nobody walks away unhappy.
Dealing with Negative People Tip 2
Do not give negative people power over you.
Because we participate in a community, our self-image, is to some extent, dependent on what others say about us. The trick, of course, is to control how much it matters.
To lessen the impact of negative rhetoric:
- Try to analyze negative comments purely from an informational standpoint. Filter out all the negative language and consider just the bald arguments. In fact, an automatic online tool that is able to filter out negative language would be a very useful tool indeed.
- Catch yourself if you start to feel any negative emotions and remind yourself not to take it personally. If you cannot do that, take a break and do something else that is positive, interactive, and interesting. For example, I will go and play with my dogs and give them a tummy rub.
- When you have made all the progress that you can in a discussion, leave it and move on. Sometimes people may just have to agree to disagree and leave it at that.
Remember that you will never be happy if you are always worried about what others say about you. There is no reason to give such power over to anyone, especially not online negative people.
Sometimes, online negativity is generated by what people say about themselves. There are many, especially in online communities, who sing their own praises and trumpet out their achievements.
Perhaps they are happy, perhaps they need a confidence boost, or perhaps they are just looking for attention. Whatever the case, such comments may incite envy or jealousy. Block such negative energy by taking a break and reciting the following quote:
“Envy consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations. If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon, but Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed.” ~~[Bertrand Russell]
Dealing with Negative People Tip 3
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
To build a fun community that you would like to be in, you must show by example.
If enough people show good manners and courteous conduct, others will follow. New users who insist on spreading online negativity will ultimately be driven out because he/she will just be ignored.
It is no fun to provoke and not get a reaction.
Dealing with Negative People Tip 4
If you are really bothered by someone in a community, let them know that their language is a bit extreme and politely ask them to turn it down a few notches.
Frequently, people may not be aware that their comments can be interpreted in a negative way. When told, they will usually apologize and/or be more careful with future comments. If you continue to feel harassed by a user, do not be afraid to report him/her to the community moderators.
One bad apple should not be allowed to spoil it for everyone.
Dealing with Negative People Tip 5
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Join a variety of communities and see which ones you like best.
You may want to stay active in several communities so that you have multiple support groups. If you start feeling online negativity from one community, there are others you can visit. Being in multiple communities also help with spreading your work and ideas to a larger audience.
Really interesting article, and beyond on-line forums I find people can be very negative thru emails and text messages and I got up thinking does the electronic world bring out the negative like a nature/ nurture thing
What a terrific Article this is.
For the past 12 months i’posted on 2 forums on a regular basis.99% of posters never stop moaning.I found it was getting to me! I’ve given up with the mishogs after i read this great hub.
Excellent Article, I myself am on the “Break Period” after dealing with considerable negativity in online forums for the past couple years.
I’ve had more than my fair share of encounters with negative people,especially those who try to infect you with it.
Really hate those places where they give you public lashings just for how you are, where those who can get away with the real bad stuff get off free from any consequences. Those places and most of the net is avoided now since at least this time I’m recovering from overexposure too it now.
Been thinking so much better now since leaving those places, one place was so bad it churned my stomach to say the least but that was prob due to my negative mindset from encountering a place [Avoid large fandom sites,especially for ones that are full of the unhappy folk]
But a very interesting Article.
Aya Hajime says
Yeah, misery loves company. As you say, much better to just avoid the unhappy folk.
HubPages is actually one of the better online communities that I have joined.
What nice Hub. I wrote a Hub on ‘Ending a relationship with a negative person’, but never thought of your comment “Catch yourself if you start to feel any negative emotions and remind yourself not to take it personally” – what great advice. Excellent Hub! I rated it ‘awesome’.