I have a very bad habit of reading Youtube- and Facebook comments. And to this day, reading mean, catty comments makes me feel a little sad inside.
I know, it’s bad. I should really stop doing it.
But it got me thinking. Why are people on the internet so mean?
There is no denying that meanness on the internet is a real problem. You often hear that the internet brings out the worst in people . That we all have this mean side that comes out when we can say what we want anonymously. Without any repercussions.
Human brains are wired towards negativity, and it has always been that way. You most likely remember negative emotions more than positive ones, and you might even have trouble to focus on positive thoughts. It takes effort to be positive, and that’s exactly why the internet is such a mean place. It isn’t that everyone is mean on the internet just because they can, it’s that there is a small (in comparison) group of people that experience extreme negativity, self-hatred and insecurity.
These are the people that leave mean comments on a regular basis.
Being unkind online can (temporarily) boost one’s self-esteem. After writing the comment, they feel good about themselves – because in that moment, they truly believe they are better than other people. It’s a short-lived high though.
What if you’re a target?
I’ve had the occasional mean comment here on this blog, but luckily, I have never been a target. Most of the time, it’s best not to reply to the person (or people) that are being mean to you. It’s hard, but in the end it makes you look like the better person.
If you do decide to reply, wait a bit before sending it. I can’t tell you how many times I have written an e-mail or comment in the heat of a discussion, only to come back later feeling like it was way cattier than I intended in the first place. Waiting a bit before sending your reply back into the world can make all the difference.
Image: Hannah Wei