The thousand-armed internet

The thousand-armed internet is throbbing in our collective consciousness.
Whether that’s a good thing or bad depends on the day.

Five Jellies diffuseOne of the pitfalls of social media is that assumptions and reactions are way too easy to make. It can be especially challenging when daring to question a prevailing notion. The social media shrapnel for anyone daring to offer an alternative perspective or even ask an innocent question can be (literally) deadly.

Before firing off a response to someone who posts a position that offends either through misinformation or pure nastiness, I recommend asking yourself these four questions:

Am I reacting rather than responding?
Am I judging? 
Am I looking for a definitive answer when there is none?
Am I thinking in extremes?

The entire world suffers from the disease of separation, referred to as splitting. Splitting is one sign of a personality or culture in disarray — a daily fact of life for many around the world.

A cardinal sign of mental health is the ability to see both sides of an argument. My way or no way, all-or-nothing attitudes, indicate a basic sense of insecurity and outright fear of the other.  It’s certainly not an accurate rendering of reality and is actually harmful and all too common on social media, and in day-to-day reality.

An uncomfortable truth is that life is filled with undefined edges and smudgy borders. I suggest that we get busy getting used to it, while we work on our own flaws, rather than blaming others. Compassion, humor, and healthy relationships are the keys. How you get to that place of relative equanimity is up to you. Meditation, talk therapy, yoga, Tai Chi, etc., are all effective routes to greater inner balance. For chronic anxiety, aggression, and depression, medication can be helpful.

Can we agree that life is challenging and ultimately fatal? Blue Eel crd
Yes? Then, can we please stop this senseless bickering?

If you find yourself on the receiving end of social media harassment, utilize and be grateful for that handy block option. Do not become combative. That only feeds the rage coming at you. And, never try to reason with an attacker. They are bullies with weak personalities who see any form of resistance as a threat and attempts at logic as weakness. It gives them justification to become even more hateful and combative.

Remember: it’s not you, it’s them. To the best of your ability, do not take it to heart. They are in deep chronic pain and you simply showed up as their next potential victim.

One way that I often deal with an attempt to provoke is to say something defusing, such as:

Thank you for pointing that out.
I’d never looked at it that way. Thanks.
No offense intended.

This, more often than not, gets me out of their line of site and deflates the potential for further attack.

I must confess to occasionally using satire. It can be satisfying in the moment, but unless you’re really on that day, I don’t generally recommend it. Even though I try my best to not respond, there are times when I simply can’t hold back.

A few comebacks that I’ve given to particularly aggressive people (usually right before I block them):

It’s a sad day when even mild dissent makes one the enemy.
Too much reaction, not enough reflection.
We’re in this together, whether we like it or not.
You seem to have conflated the message with the messenger. 
Asking for comments does not mean that I agree, only that I’m wondering about it. 
I am not the enemy.

Use at your discretion, but remember… it’s often wiser to say nothing. If they end up trolling your timeline, Block and, for the truly obnoxious, Report are your strongest allies.


Handy resources:
Out Of The Fog: Name-Calling
Huffington Post: Stress and the dualistic mind
Psychology Today: Self-Deception II: Splitting
Awards Daily: Oscar-watching in the era of outrage



  1. Very interesting! I haven’t thought about the splitting in our culture, and this encourages me to work more with community psychology in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear it!
      The more we understand, the more we can help.
      Thank you.


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