It’s All Right To Not Engage

Posted by Siddharth Gabriel Sinha in #NoPlace4Hate
January 12, 2018
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

In the age of social media, with images and content flooding forums on the web, conflict is inevitable. As anyone who is a part of Facebook alone can testify, one always runs into content or opinions that are offensive, hateful or hazardous. This is usually also followed by creators and purveyors of said content, who more often than not choose to mock, harass or attack people not open to their tastes.

So what happens when one is faced with questionable content, and people defending that content on social media platforms? Most would argue that engaging with these people, either civilly or aggressively, is required; and this is often something that inevitably happens in a space that thrives on anonymity and reactive interactions. It could also be argued that not protesting against these people or their content only serves to encourage them further and perpetuate further cycles of harassment.

However, and I say this with utmost sincerity, it is absolutely okay to not engage in conflict.

For a lot of people, social media interactions are a tedious process. And just like any other real life interaction, it can also be a source of anxiety or stress. Often, engaging with internet trolls ends up taking more out you than it does from the troll. There’s a reason a phrase like “don’t feed the trolls” exists, as they thrive on getting reactions out of people through increasingly offensive and exploitative methods. So, if you choose not to argue with an offensive troll on social media, don’t look at it as ‘chickening out’, but simply as not wanting to further perpetuate an endless cycle of harassment which only serves to tire you out and to bolster your harasser.

Choosing to block or report trolls and/or offensive content, similarly, is also completely okay. This does not automatically mean you refuse to acknowledge or address these people or their stances – it simply means that you acknowledge the fact that any further argument with these people, only further feeds into a cycle of harassment which is wanted by trolls.

I know that Facebook’s community guidelines may be spotty at best when dealing with these issues, but that shouldn’t ever discourage one from taking the steps they feel are necessary to ensure a safe and inclusive social media experience for themselves and their peers. Therefore, by choosing to report content/people that perpetuate hate speech and other offensive or exclusionary content, you are still very much making your stance clear that you do have  your stances very much set against oppressive views. You don’t need to type paragraphs in an endless keyboard war against the unsavory denizens of the internet to validate your stance.

In the end, all you need to do is what you feel is best for you and your social media experience being a wholesome, safe and inclusive one.