I work as a social media editor at Youth Ki Awaaz, and looking through Facebook and Twitter (among others) is literally my job. So every time someone thinks it’s funny to drop a ‘f*ck you, c*nt’ or a ‘go back to porkistan’ as a message, I see it.
That’s right, person who thought nobody would notice them leaving hateful messages on the Internet, I see you.
Internet hate is a particular kind of beast, which can be difficult to avoid when you don’t know what you’re doing. Sometimes even when you do know what you’re doing. Take my position for example: it’s very unlikely that the person writing ‘f*cking ch*tiyas’ as a message to the platform I work for is directing it towards me in question. Very likely, the person doesn’t even know if there is anyone at the receiving end, forget a man or a woman.
But that doesn’t lessen the impact of the words or the sinking feeling I have when I see the words. Especially when it’s practically every other day. You don’t know the inventive scope of language until you see people finding different ways to cuss you out for the same thing thrice a week.
And with the internet, the hate often tends to get depersonalised. You are, after all, not directly seeing the person you’re throwing the hate at, are you? And therefore, the words often become more vicious, more violent. Now that it’s not personal, who cares right?
I remember one particular incident where I opened up the inbox and found a set of messages which, after going through one or two of usual slurs, had a bunch of graphic and horrifying images of a dismembered body. Luckily, I had scrolled up the moment I caught a glimpse of it. I remember just staring down at my laptop after that, in shock and disbelief that someone who could do something like that.
Sometimes you have to step back and re-evaluate your situation. I found that blocking and banning some people (like our friend above) really helped me reduce the hate I had to deal with on a general basis. When someone has no opposite opinion to offer apart from slurs and is very clearly a troll, the block button is the easiest and fastest.
Apart from this, one really effective way I found was, to ask the trolls for their point of view. For example, someone might send me ‘pages like yours is the reason everything is going wrong’ and I politely say, “We’re sorry to hear that. Would you like to talk about why you think that?”
It’s so unexpected that some don’t continue the ‘conversation’ (win) or sometimes, actually answer me honestly (bigger win!). Not only does it shows to them that someone is willing to listen, it sometimes legitimately brightens up my day!
And despite these measures above, some days can still get too much. And on those, it helps to remember that the internet, at the end of the day, is just the internet. Turn off your notifications, don’t look at the inbox until the next day and maybe even the day after. Guess what? The hatemongers might still be there, but so will be really nice and sweet people who have serious questions and are maybe cheering you along the way. And I promise you, they vastly outnumber the haters.