Somewhere along the line, some people have gotten it into their heads that the internet is just this dumping ground where they are allowed to be as mean, and as cruel, and as rude as they want...just because. I mean, it's the point of insanity where someone can post a video online of some cute cats, and there are literally full on hate speech style comments...on a cat video! I was actually heartbroken one day when this little 10 year old girl who had cancer was just telling her story about how she was trying to stay positive through treatment, and some of the comments were like, go kill yourself and end it already. Are their really people like that who would care so little as to make comments like that to someone, let alone a child.
I know the majority wouldn't leave comments like that, but I think all of us need to not only be our best selves outside of the internet realm, but carry that through to how we conduct ourselves online. There is nothing wrong with leaving an opinion on something whether you agree with what is said or not, or having a voice, or telling someone what they are saying or doing is wrong, but it's also in how we say it. There is a vast difference between "telling it like it is," and being a complete jerk to someone simply because you are online and feel you are not accountable for your actions.
I think people forget that there are real people behind those keyboards. Too many people hide behind this idea that everyone just needs to toughen up, but that's merely an excuse for a lot of these people who would leave horrible disgusting comments, to justify their horrible behavior. They feel it's everyone elses fault for having a negative reaction to them being crass, and rude, and saying hateful disgusting things, rather than being accountable for what they are saying and the manner they are saying it because I can almost guarantee the percentage of people IRL who actually talk and act like that outside of their computers is very very tiny. So here are a few tips on being your best internet self for 2017:
1. Leave constructive criticism.
If, for example, someone has asked for opinions on their singing in a video and you think they can't sing well, instead of the super negative, "you suck, and you should quit," try actually analyzing what they are doing. "Good song choice, but you're straining too hard when you sing the high notes, and probably need to drop down to singing the alto part. It might also help if you had a vocal coach as well."
2. Don't engage in comment wars
If someone just flat out leaves hate filled empty useless comments meant to anger or get a rise out of you, don't respond. These trolls feed off of you responding and the angrier you get, the more they love to engage. You can block them, delete their comments, and/or ignore them. If you keep feeding the trolls, they will literally keep coming back.
3. Leave positive feedback/comments
Even if all the other comments you see are negative and ugly, that doesn't mean you have to jump in and be that way. There may be 100 ugly comments, but that person on the other end, may be encouraged by a positive message you have left for them.
4. Hang out in more positive internet spaces
If you hang out in real life with negative people all the time, you tend to either become negative yourself or be dragged down all the time by the atmosphere around you. If you are on certain sites or pages online where the negative ugly trolling far outweighs the more thought provoking, interesting, funny, meaningful, and positive comments/people/opinions, then perhaps it's time to move on to a space where there are just nicer people in general. The difference in your online experience can be day and night depending on where you chose to spend your free time.
5. Do talk to people who leave meaningful comments
In the same way you shouldn't respond to outright negativity/hostility, you should respond to constructive and/or positive comments and feedback. You should want to talk to the people who leave you opinions whether they agree/disagree as long as it is not simply a bunch of trolling. If someone says I disagree with you because xyz, and they want to start a dialogue, be a part of that. If someone takes the time to write out a meaningful message, engage with them because odds are they will want to continue talking to you and following you on social media, and you will know that they are there to have a real conversation or say something that isn't trolling or negative for no reason.