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Fame or Infamy

I was scrolling through twitter this morning while on the exercise bike and not really reading anything except headlines and ignoring trolls. I scrolled past a photo of two lovely young women – high school age who were dressed for a school dance.  I can’t even describe the dismay I felt when I saw what they were wearing and their obvious political statement. I will not post it here or even describe it… but it is the type of photo that could seriously haunt you in adulthood. A photo that would embarrass  and be indefensible  sitting in a job interview 10 years from now. Not the type of thing you want to be famous for… or infamous for.

The photo was perfect bait for internet trolls, drooling with cruelty, laying in wait for their daily frenzy.  They thrive on the disruption they can cause.   The post will be retweeted , shared and will probably have a viral moment seen as a success by the teens who posted it.  They will become social media darlings – for a moment not conscious of the aftermath.

Psychology Today defines trolls as : An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.

I reflected on the stress of living with the fame or infamy of having an internet presence as I peddled the time away.  You can google anyone and anything.  There is no way to purge information from the net whether its personal or professional or just plain irresponsible photo postings by teenagers. Your name can be found, your phone number…google has posted your house on maps.  Thank goodness my house is covered with trees and can’t be seen on maps- but my neighbor has this really awesome pool that you can see from space!  You can be trolled on any social media platform – I had to delete our Medium account last year because of attacks from trolls who disagreed with my views on addiction treatment methods – being on Medium wasn’t worth the anxiety.

And for heavens sake don’t comment on a newspaper article or don’t use your real name when you do.

Trolls truly enjoy making you feel bad. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

It’s risky business to be in business – especially when you don’t seek fame or attention- that you just are working hard to build a business, create a product and contribute positive benefits for your community.  You better have a solid foundation and a really thick skin.

I was reminded of a book I read several years ago about Eleanor Roosevelt.  She was an amazing woman even though I disagree with her politics, I can relate to her experiences. She was “trolled” by detractors at every turn and she just kept going. She showed the world while you may be a product of your past, you do not have to be it’s victim.

My favorite quote of Eleanor’s is: Develop a skin as thick as a rhinoceros hide.”

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How do you navigate the overwhelming burdens and trolls in your life?

  1. Stay focused on the purpose and meaning of your objectives.
  2. Things in your past are in your past- let that fear go.
  3. Ignore the difficult trolls in your life – they won’t change – don’t even respond
  4. Stay true to your personal integrity and values.
  5. You must do the thing you think you cannot do – it’s not as dreadful as you think.
  6. And… don’t post pictures that will embarrass you or your family. It’s not worth the instant gratification to be shocking the internet provides.
  7. Be resilient
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