Campus Cope: How to deal with toxicity online and in gaming

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Trolling is unavoidable. One day, you ask the internet, “My car is messed up. What do I do?” Someone responds, “Yah! Just deflate your tires half way so you can reset the flux capacitor.” This is trolling. It’s a form of online toxicity, and whether you’re on YouTube or playing League of Legends, you’re likely to encounter it.

Someone on the receiving end might be OK with a bit of trolling, but when it becomes cyberbullying, then there’s a problem. Eliott Chung, a second-year microbiology major, suggests you “Ignore the online toxicity. It doesn’t make sense for (you) to let (your) feelings be affected by a stranger.” He has a good point: There’s no reason to waste your time arguing with someone online that you will probably never encounter in real life.

However, sometimes people step over the line and ignoring it is not the answer. Sure, if someone is simply spewing misinformed political beliefs, then it’s OK to close the computer and move on.  But when people step over the line and attack your personal space, then ignoring it is not the solution. For example, if I’m playing multiplayer Minecraft and someone makes inappropriate jokes about, let’s say, my mom, I can’t simply ignore their comments.

Of course, many people might say “Just give them shit back,” like Jasmine K., a third-year transfer computer science major. But while it may be fun to take revenge on an internet troll, sometimes fighting back creates more chaos. If you continuously feed internet trolls with blocks of text, the argument never ends. In my experience as a novice at Counter-Strike, players name-called and insulted me. It was very frustrating, and I kept getting enraged whenever I played the game. It wasn’t fun anymore and I wasted so much time arguing back and forth with these players. As one would imagine, nothing came of it. From that experience, I learned that at the end of the day, Counter-Strike is just a game and should not affect my emotions the way that it did.

So how exactly do you deal with internet toxicity? We’ve all probably seen the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” and its broadcasting of the severe consequences of cyberbullying, such as suicide. Any form of online toxicity, especially cyberbullying, can have an emotional toll on someone. Having all that negativity around someone is unhealthy and should be addressed.

One might argue that you can simply ban cyber bullies from the server. Certainly, in games such as Counter-Strike or League of Legends, there are committees that survey inappropriate language and behavior. However, as nice as it is to block players, doing so doesn’t address the problem at its core. Others may still come along and make you another victim of cyberbullying. Personally, I find that having a strong support system counteracts the emotional distress of cyberbullying. Having grown up around my friends and family has taught me to examine my limits and manage the amount of negativity entering my daily life.

In order to properly respond to cyberbullying, you must do your best to be emotionally undeterred by hurtful comments. So, instead of spending all day at home and burying your head in your pillow, you should step away from social media and find something that relaxes you.

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