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2017 was a doozer of a year as I dealt with conflict after conflict with strangers and “friends” on Facebook. I have no idea why each person was mad at me, however, each misunderstanding quickly expanded into a conflict of epic proportions.
This madness is entertaining when it happens on The Real Housewives, but in real life, it's annoying.
Conflict = Training Opportunities
Whenever I take my dogs for a walk, I use our time together for training. I focus on my dogs (their body language, their gate, their panting) while I pay attention to our surroundings. My dogs are learning to follow my lead – yes, it would be great fun to chase that rabbit, but since we're attached to mom via a leash, let's just stand here and watch the rabbit.
A few months ago when I was whining about the drama in my life, a friend encouraged me to pay attention to each conflict so that I can figure out the lesson I needed to learn. So I treated each conflict as a training opportunity and learned how to best deal with trolls.
I also learned what NOT to do when speaking with people about their dogs. When we see someone flipping out on someone on social media in a misguided attempt to “help” others, we also see firsthand how that “help” is being received and can adjust our approach in the future.
Note to self, don't make assumptions about a stranger's life (especially negative ones) and then get surprised when they become offended.
What a Troll Wants
We all know that people in the dog lover world are passionate. We love our animals and we have strong opinions; combine that with our inability to Agree to Disagree and the anonymity of social media and you have a Mean Girl/Guy mess on your hands. This year, I've tried working through misunderstandings with people, calling them out publicly when they're really mean, and standing up to people – none of these techniques work with trolls and a friend explained why.
Trolls love attention. Let me repeat that – TROLLS LOVE ATTENTION. It doesn't matter if it's positive attention or negative attention – as long as everyone is looking at them, then they are in heaven.
Proper Care and Feeding of Trolls
I was always told that when you see something or hear something three times or more, then you better act on it because this is God's way of delivering a message. This year at SuperZoo, I received the same advice from several people about how to deal with trolls.
Unfriend, Unfollow, Block
I knew this was the right thing to do; however, for a person like me, it's hard. But nothing else was working; what could I lose? Trolls don't care about “your side.” They're not interested in what really happened or what you meant. They get off on turning you into an enemy and then announcing to their posse that they have vanquished the devil in their midst. Then their ragtag group of haters cluck-cluck-cluck as they talk crap about you for a couple of days.
Then it's on to the next drama.
I've learned that the drama will go on for as long as you keep feeding it by talking about it aka venting about it on social media. And don't be fooled by the private apology – the email that comes a few weeks to a few months later saying “I don't know what happened?” Do not fall for it! This is just a trick to get you back on their Merry-Go-Round of Crazy.
Unfriend, Unfollow, Block
Are you familiar with the Real Housewives? That used to be me; I lived for the drama and kept it stirred up in my personal life and on social media. After a summer of weekly conflicts, I found myself in a deep depression and I knew that I had to do better; be better.
It took me years to leave all the negativity behind because drama that surrounds conflict is addicting. It feels good to rant and vent, with people taking your side. It feels good to take the frustrations of my life and channel them into one person as if they're the reason for my misery. And it feels good to be the center of attention even if it's only for a short time.
But then you come down off that high and you need a new fix. You find yourself hunting down someone else to pick a fight with, hoping that no one realizes that this is what you're doing – can't have people calling you out on trolling.
Unfriend, Unfollow, Block
My history comes to mind when I see someone tossing out the Victim Card after they were called out for rude behavior. Or when I see a group of people justifying their bullying then dust off their pants as they tell themselves that they were only being honest. Been there, done that, and it only feeds your personal misery.
So what do I do instead?
Unfriend, Unfollow, and Block Drama Addicts
If you're a recovering drama addict like me, there is hope. I finally got fed up and moved on. However, if you're reading this and thinking of someone who has been a thorn in your side recently, please know that you can't help them see the folly of their ways. Just move on because they need to decide to leave the drama behind. My recovery started with hitting rock bottom. Not one week passed without me fighting with someone online, at work, or at home. It was insanity and I was losing the drama game. One day I made an appointment with a therapist. That was four years ago and I'm happy to say that I'm a reformed drama addict.
The addiction is still there. Many times I'm tempted to jump into the drama with someone, but I have a lifetime of evidence showing that this doesn't work and I'm able to turn away from the temptation.
Today, I give people one shot – when you show yourself to be all about drama, I will throw up the walls and walk away. My block list is insane.
I'd Rather Be With My Dogs
Now, when I'm tempted to go toe to toe with someone on social media, I allow myself five minutes to be mad and I might vent to one of my girlfriends. And then I move on and find the humor in the situation. The only exception is when I think that I can share what I learned with the community or it's important to respond to an attack on my credibility as a dog blogger (my business).
Frankly, most of us don't have time for negativity. And the people who do take the time to spew hurtful words are in a lot of pain. I used to think that I should reach out to help (because I recognize that pain), however, I treat them like a wild, injured animal – stay away unless you're trained to help, I never received that training. Life is too short to get wrapped up in the drama of strangers. I would rather ignore the haters and spend time with my dogs, my friends and family, and watching the Real Housewives. Damn, I love that show.
Wise Words from a Facebook Group
One of my followers, Candice, was kind enough to send me this beautifully worded guideline from the Facebook group “Squad Goals – Multi Dog Owners United.”
“Please avoid blunt and blatant accusations or the fat shaming of dogs, if you have any concerns about the dog's health and well-being whether it's due to its weight or any other physical matter — we welcome you to bring up your concerns. Respectfully. We are adults here, and we expect everyone to act accordingly to some degree. Instead of “wtf fat dog” try asking if the dog has health issues, has he been tested, etc. It's best to try to educate someone before you start screaming insults because otherwise, people feel immediately defensive and aren't keen to listen to you if they're being degraded and berated actively.”