Pink Shirt Day’s anti-bullying messaging on Feb. 24 should be understood every day of the year. (Contributed)

Pink Shirt Day’s anti-bullying messaging on Feb. 24 should be understood every day of the year. (Contributed)

COLUMN: Millennial’s guide to online trolls, bullies

Messages of Pink Shirt Day should be front of mind all year long, especially online

While our pink T-shirts may be refolded and put away in our drawers for another year, the message of Pink Shirt Day (Feb. 24) is still at the forefront of our minds – or at least it should be.

All year, in fact.

This Wednesday, participants donning pink gear took a stance against bullying – whether that’s online or in-person.

We know bullying isn’t something that only occurs in classrooms or at the bike racks. This is a problem in workplaces, in homes and online. But now, more than ever, people need to maintain that anti-bullying mentality as the calendar pages flip.

Moods are universally soured due to the pandemic on top of the stresses of daily life and it’s becoming increasingly apparent in the way people are interacting on social media.

People are polarized on thousands of different topics and it’s a battle royale on Facebook forums and that deafening hell pit, also known as Twitter, and, thing is, everyone believes they are right.

In my days online, which is nearly all of them (Millennial), I’ve learned a few things about how to navigate the turbulent waters of online engagement:

You can’t argue with stupid: You know that saying. There’s no point exuding energy engaging with someone whose mind is so closed there is no room for debate or discussion, so why bother?

You don’t have to respond: If you see something that upsets you while scrolling, you don’t have to comment or interact with the post at all. It wasn’t necessarily written for you, it just exists now. The OP (original poster) isn’t eagerly awaiting your response, so you can just scroll past.

Leave it be. There’s no space in your life for garbage anyway. Trolls and cyberbullies seek reactions. They want to trigger you. If you choose to respond, you’ll get stuck in a hair-pulling, teeth-gritting cycle. See above.

Report threats: If things take a turn, be sure to keep records, screenshots and documentation to provide police so a file can be started tracking the harassment. In the meantime, block email addresses, cellphone numbers and social media access points across all platforms to prevent further contact with the individual.

Unplug: We are bombarded with information 24-7 online, most of which is taking up unnecessary real estate in your mind, so be sure to mute those notifications and turn that screen off for a little each day. Focus on doing the things that bring you joy. Read a good book, binge that TV series, try that new meditation app, whatever it is, enjoy yourself.

On the heels of a rough year and with the near future looking…well, still pretty crappy, we need to be there for one another, in-person and online.

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