Don’t Get Mad. (Seriously, don’t)

See full issue for 2017 07-24

Seems like people on social media (authors mostly, as I do mingle with a lot of writer types) are so angry these days. It takes almost nothing for the monkeys to be unleashed and everyone’s throwing out bitches and assholes with a few f-bombs. It becomes like a vacuum, sucking all of our time and energy, which could be better spent writing or doing nice, positive things like promoting our books or watching Netflix. I’ve seen writers get so swept up in the negativity, so angry with people and/or events, they completely lose their minds. Become obsessed. Sometimes, they get so angry or upset by the shit storm that follows, they deactivate accounts and disappear for a while.

This damages more than just your “image.”

We need to calm down. Don’t become emotionally invested in the virtual reality that is social media. (Yes, I know it’s very real, but it shouldn’t consume your real life.) Forget about image. Forget about marketing and being likable. Forget about all the very good reasons you should NEVER lose your shit online. Think about yourself instead. Your well being. Sanity.

People who know me personally are laughing right now, saying “Hello Pot. This is Kettle.” Yes, I am easily annoyed. Quick to anger. I’m also quick to let most of it go (Yes, I am. Shut up.) When I write my little rants, they’re generally written after I’ve cooled down. I take time to look at the thing I’m pissed about and determine how I can change it (if I can change it). I ask myself if my voice will just add to the noise, or will it help those stuck in it?

Or can I at least make someone laugh? Yes, I really do try to find the funny in everything, even when I’m mad. It’s what keeps me out of a straightjacket.

The addictive world of social media is easy to lose ourselves in. I get lost frequently. As writers, marketing and networking and all that good bookselling stuff requires that we go online, day after day, sometimes for hours at a time. We build our platform, but we also make new friends, and sometimes, be it intentional or not, we find new enemies. Once the ball of a shit storm gets rolling, it’s easy to forget that it’s well past midnight, and we’re in front of a screen, in our Dorito’s dust stained jammies, hair all over the place, bit of crusty syrup stuck to our chin, with yesterday’s underwear begging to be changed, and those words we’re reading won’t really affect us in the grand scheme.

But we need to remember that, so we can pick the battles worth fighting, and let go of the rest. Getting pissed and throwing a tantrum online only hurts one person: you. So, get over it.

How? As a professional tantrum thrower, I’ve worked out some easy and effective ways to avoid being an asshole online. Here goes:

Get away from the computer.

Or at least disconnect from social media for a while. Go ahead and write whatever nasty bit you think you want to post, but DON’T actually post it. This is important. DO NOT POST/PUBLISH THAT THING. Just put it in a Word document and then let it sit. Or, even better, play a game or Netflix a little. Let the anger simmer and cool for a day, or at least a few hours. Let it sit longer if you’re like me and it takes a little while to settle down.

Now, laugh.

I don’t care if you don’t feel like it. Do it. Laugh. Go on. Do it maniacally. Do it hysterically. Just giggle a bit. Or laugh without any feeling at all. Laughing is actually pretty damn effective, even if you’re not really feeling the funny. Somehow, the act, the curving of your lips upward, pushing the sound out, and all of that, is like a fire extinguisher to the flames of fury. So, do it. Keep laughing until you actually feel kind of giddy.

Still feel pissed? Wow, you’re kind of hard core. That’s okay. I’ve got you and your humor lacking ass covered.

Go back to that post you wrote. Read it. Take out the shit that’s just you indulging your inner toddler, and rewrite it to make a valid point. Key word here is “valid.” If you’re doing nothing but calling someone out or whining, then your post is lame and you should just delete it. That’s right. I called you lame. You big fat lame-o thing, you.

Laugh again.

Don’t get mad at me, lame-bot. It’s you who is acting like the child.

Still laughing?

Now, before you post your rewritten, less rant-like thing about the person/thing that pissed you off, sit back and ask yourself, “Why is this important to me?” I mean, in a day or five, is it even going to matter? Does it affect your life in any real way? Will posting a rant or vague-booking about it change anything or will it just make you feel better?

By now, your anger should be cooled to a dull churning in your belly. Maybe it’s gone. Awesome. However, if you still feel strongly enough about what pissed you off to make your voice heard, then go ahead and say something. Write a blog rant, as I’m so fond of doing, or a tweet or a Facebook post. Whatever. I can’t stop you from being you. Post what you want.

Keep in mind, though, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, except online, it’s usually more like every reaction has a more extreme and negative reaction… Anyway, remember that if you’re going to spew negativity and indulge your temper, someone will return the favor, and you might find yourself back where you started or in a deeper, thicker storm of shit than you ever imagined possible. You may end up so furious and consumed by what’s happening on your screen, you forget yourself and you post that one thing you regret in the morning. That one thing the Internet is so happy to never forget.

And the internet is forever. Whatever you put up there, doesn’t go away. When you’re no longer pissed, and you’re able to look at the situation like a reasonable human being, your reaction is still there, building up consequences and shit. If your business is online, as mine is, that can have some pretty lasting negative side effects.

Is it worth it?


Renee Miller

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