Is it OK to get upset when people post mean comments?

mean comments

Unfortunately there are some undesirables on the internet who revel in posting mean comments just to upset people.

They get kicks from being nasty, especially when they can hide behind anonymity. Or sometimes this makes them feel superior to the people they torment. Whatever their reason, it's worth realising how sad their little worlds must be if they get something from doing this.

Is it OK to get upset about mean comments? Yes, this is only natural, but the best thing is to understand why this is happening, and then you can make an informed decision what you can do about it.

People have forgotten how to be nice

Social media can be a horrible environment overrun by nastiness and cruelty. People take delight in making other people's lives a misery by writing mean comments. This is probably because they are are also living horrible lives, and want to feel better by seeing other people suffer.

This all harps back to the time we lived in caves. It was a tough world, and in order to survive you had to constantly win over your competitors. One way to do this was to be horrible to create a sense of superiority. Coming across as larger and stronger was enhanced with brute force verbally as well as physically.

As a result we have far more negative and mean words in our vocabulary than positive and kind ones. It is much easier to think of something mean to say on the spot in response to something. To see someone recoil from a horrid demeanour results in a sense of power, even if the mean person is in the minority.

Who are writing mean comments?

Trolls and other unfortunates live in a very narrow world. Their sole purpose is to upset people. And they are very good at it! They understand the psychology of what triggers emotional responses. And they have plenty of time to focus on this, persistence to drive home their vitriol and poison, and are experts at getting under people’s skin.

They will never admit they are doing wrong, understand the sorry state of their own lives and appreciate the effect they are having. Some of them are mentally ill, so are incapable of comprehending the repercussions of what they are doing. All they sense is the gratification they get when the mean comments they offer hit home.

Those who are not ill may have a particular disorder to enjoy hurting people. They delight in causing havoc with their Machiavellian and sadistic tendencies and there is little hope for them. Their anonymity protects them from any comeback, which drives them to keep writing more mean comments.

What can you do about trolls?

I have written a post about how to cope with trolls, if you’re interested. The best thing is not to get angry or unnecessarily upset. Recognise them for what they are: pathetic little people with equally pathetic little lives. Do not engage with them, as this will only entice them to do more.

However, I think trollism has expanded considerably, especially during the last decade, as the world becomes more horrible. And this isn’t helped in any way by certain celebrities’ examples within social media – people are starting to think this is the norm and are copying them.

Do we have any hope in combatting this problem in the future? The best thing to do is to focus on being tactful, polite and kind. Take time to think of positive words, and imagine how your comment will be received and responded to. All we can do is set a good standard, and hope people will follow our example.

Alice Elliott
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