Nothing in the history of time has ever made a person feel shitty quite like the experience of being on social media.
If you've spent more than a few minutes on the internet, you've probably seen your share of negativity and malice posted anonymously (or not) from one stranger to another.
There's nothing wrong with a little civil disagreement, but unsubstantiated animosity does nothing but detract from constructive conversations. Frankly, the longer you are online and interacting with the general public, the more likely it is that being online will make you feel bad about yourself.
And the bad feelings we experience as a result of our online interactions are unusually rough, because they corner us in our own homes and leave us suffering mentally, silently, and usually alone.
The key is to take it in stride, realize that this is the internet, and keep your cool. If you find that you're in a discussion which you feel isn't going anywhere, respectfully disengage.
Remember that all actions have consequences. And the thing about the internet is that you don't always see the consequences. Use your imagination and think about what the likely consequences are of what you are about to write. The Golden Rule still applies. How would you feel if someone said to you what you are about to say, and said it in front of the whole world? Would you say this thing that you have just written if the person was standing in front of you?
Don't like or retweet mean comments. You know what's worse than having someone say hurtful things to you? When a whole horde of people behind them pile on and yell, "Yeah! That's right! What she said!" You know what's more cowardly than saying mean things over social media? Liking someone else's mean things.
If you make a mistake, apologize. We've all done it. As non-robots, it's inevitable that we will make mistakes. So when you do, when things get personal and you realize you've hurt someone's feelings, just say sorry. It might lead to deeper understanding or even friendship. Sorry can be magical.
Be the good! Like organizational psychologist Adam Grant says:
“The internet doesn't turn people into trolls. It just makes their trolling more visible. 8 studies, over 8k people: if you're an asshole online, you're probably an asshole in person too.”
— and *spoiler alert* we know you’re not!