If you use a social network in earnest I’d wager that there is someone you follow whom you can’t stand. Everything they say online 1 comes across as condescension, ignorance, or downright stupidity. They may be someone well-known in society, they may be someone familiar. I find this behaviour exceedingly common amongst programmers and geeks, for reasons probably best left undiscussed here.

Now, I’m as guilty of this as the next opinionated programmer, but there came a point when I felt enough was enough. I was tired of it. Whilst the emotion in the moment is strong, over time it damages the value you get through those social networks, and maybe even damages relationships. Plus, it’s exhausting.

Internet rage is unbecoming, not very Zen (if that matters to you), and, like real-life hatred, hurts you more than it does the recipient. This applies even if you never actually post anything but let yourself quietly simmer in the emotion without trying to get past it.

If you are struggling with getting angry or upset at people online, you have two options 2 1) you can “unfollow” or “unfriend” that person, which is the dignified thing to do (don’t like, don’t listen), or 2) you could try to resolve it, an option, in my opinion, much better for everyone, especially you. So, I have a simple lifehack that worked for me, and may help to resolve your feelings towards the object of your ire:

Give the person a compliment.

It may not work all the time, and it certainly won’t work if the compliment is insincere. But it is much better for you (and them) than wishing a pox on their house, silently or not. If that person responds to you with thanks or a kind word, I can guarantee even if you previously hated their guts, your anger will fizzle out almost instantly. You may even find a new, valuable relationship.

  1. It is much easier to get angry at someone on the Internet as there is no face-to-face contact. If that person said the same infuriating comment in person, your reaction may well be different. 

  2. The implicit third option is to follow your emotions and “engage the rage”, but since these suggestions imply you are trying to overcome rage, I left it out.