Breaking the Mean Girl Cycle

It’s all too easy to be mean from behind a computer screen — and we’re all guilty of it.

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Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

In this world we are constantly surrounded by false realities.

From social media to reality television, warped views of the world abound on our screens of choice. It’s hard to stop ourselves from getting sucked into the deception. It’s harder still to decipher what’s real and what’s fake.

Let’s take one of my favorite reality shows, The Bachelor. With every passing season, there is the beautiful dream girl, the explosive firecracker, and, of course, the infamous villain. Fans all across the country take to social media to share their thoughts and opinions on the season, which isn’t a bad thing … until it is.

Suddenly disliking the villain (who, despite her outer flawlessness, has been made out to look poorly on television) turns into something a little more sinister. Presumptions and judgements attack her character and an outpouring of hurtful words create an ugliness that is all too common on social sites.

The worst part?

We all just go with it. We become bystanders. We participate.

And it’s not because we are bad people — in fact, most of us are pretty kind. It’s because when we’re online, everything becomes desensitized. We don’t care about our words because it feels as if these people aren’t even real.

If it is so easy to spew hatred towards those who are famous, who have fans, and a presence.

So what does this mean for the rest of us? What about those of us who feel less than ‘flawless,’ or don’t have a fanbase, or a backing of any sort?

Further, what are we saying to the world when we attack these people? That it’s okay to be cruel if you really dislike someone? That if women can attack other women it’s okay for men to as well?

It’s up to us to change the narrative, to hold each other up, and to break the cycle: because no matter what part we may play, we are still playing into it.

Photo by Katy Belcher on Unsplash

Want to break out of the mean girl cycle and make a change? Here are three steps we can all use to get started:

1. Think Before You Type

Words may only be words, but at the end of the day they can still cut deeper than a knife.

Sure, Twitter is a place for you to express yourself and blurt things out but think next time: Will your words hurt someone? Will they make someone feel less than? Would they ruin your day if they were directed at you?

With the power of social media, comes responsibility. Use your words wisely and don’t squander this opportunity for your real voice to be heard. (Hint: Your split-second unkind thoughts during The Bachelor probably aren’t your true voice.)

2. Accept That We All Make Mistakes & There is Power in Admitting Yours

It’s okay to mess up, it’s okay to make a false judgement, it’s okay to be less than kind sometimes. We’ve all been there.

It’s also okay — more than okay, in fact — to admit when you’re wrong and be able to apologize. This is a part of growth. It’s difficult and it’s commendable.

Grow into someone who can find newer, more positive opinions and make the unkind words you have said in the past, a thing of the past.

3. Be a Positive Influence

Even if you don’t feel comfortable standing up for yourself or for someone else, combat the situation by changing the subject. Share a positive anecdote. Tell a joke to lighten the mood. Move away from the mean.

You get back what you put out, so be the person who can make any dark night a little brighter!

I want to hear from you in the comments below!

Have you ever been a victim of hurtful words online? Have you ever fallen prey to your own unkind moments? How will you break the mean girl cycle online?

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