Sometimes, the internet can seem like a pretty intimidating place. Whatever you post, there will be people looking at and commenting on it. And, a lot of people feel much safer saying things they normally wouldn’t when they’re sitting in front of a screen instead of in front of an actual person. Especially if the type of social media they’re using is one that provides a sense of anonymity

There are ways while commenting on the internet, though, that can allow you a stress-free experience. Even if someone is intentionally trying to instigate something, you don’t have to allow yourself to get caught up in it. There’s enough stress in the world already, the internet doesn’t have to be another source of it.

Think Before You Post

Before you make any type of post on the internet, it can help to think beforehand about what kind of response it may elicit. If you are posting something related to controversial topics, like politics or religion, it’s extremely likely you’ll get some angry responses. So decide whether or not that’s worth what you want to post.

If you’re replying to something someone has commented, think about what you’re adding to the conversation and if it’s necessary. Being selective about what you say will help you avoid outright negative reactions from others. 

If You Can, Ignore It

In most situations where you see a post or comment that really puts you on edge, the best thing to do is not engage. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress by refraining from responding. 

More often than not, it’s not worth the effort. Unfollowing or blocking the person will also help you to avoid these sorts of things you don’t want to see. And you’ll spend much less time being upset over what was posted. 

Also keep in mind that it’s extremely difficult to really change someone’s mind over the internet. Because of the nature of the platform, negative feedback usually will only reinforce someone’s beliefs, and they’re unlikely to budge no matter what information you provide. 

When people form opinions, they use cognitive biases to do so, which isn’t always necessarily based on logic. Nobody is exempt from this, so when a post or comment you disagree with creates a reaction in you, what you can do instead is try to understand why it made you feel that way and move on. 

When You Should Respond

There are times, however, when responding to something may be a good idea. If you can provide deeper insight or information someone is likely to be receptive to, then your response may actually be constructive to the conversation. 

Also, if someone you know in person has posted something you disagree with, they may be more likely to listen to you. Someone you know has some sort of emotional tie to you, so they are more apt to consider your response. A complete stranger is much less likely to care about what you have to say. 

How to Respond Tactfully

So, if you decide to post a comment, there are some things you should keep in mind. First of all, don’t allow yourself to stoop to insults. There’s nothing to gain from using them, and people are much less likely to take you seriously. 

Even if someone insults you first, instead of reciprocating, it should be a sign that you should step back from the situation. 

Try to be aware of the wording you use when typing a response. Over the internet, there’s no tone of voice, so it’s easy for things to be taken the wrong way. If you suspect something would come across as confusing, try wording it differently. Using emoticons can also be beneficial in these situations to show others you mean well. 

Also try not to come off as condescending, or people will not be as receptive towards you. Being open-minded can be your best course of action, as long as the person you’re replying to is not being hateful or promoting something dangerous. 

How to Spot a Troll

If you find yourself in a spat on the internet, it’s very likely you could be dealing with someone who just wants to argue for the sake of arguing. Or, they don’t care at all about what you have to say and instead simply want to mess with you. 

There are a few ways you can catch one of these people, usually called a troll, and once you do the best thing is to disengage. Trolls don’t want any true discussion, they just want to cause a reaction in order to feel superior or for entertainment. 

If they continually repeat the same rhetoric or phrase over and over, as if they aren’t even reading what you say, it’s likely a troll. This is also true if they make hyperbolic, wild claims and suggestions or try to use the shock factor. 

Using Comment Etiquette

In order to keep stress out of using the internet, trying to take part only in constructive and positive conversation can help you immensely not only in your online life but also life in general. 

The internet is a great creation that allows you to talk with others who, without it, you never would have been able to. So while there are definitely benefits from using the internet, there can also be some pitfalls. Following these tips can help you navigate your way through.