Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Advice Column: Dealing with Online Bullies

Today's advice-seeker wants your two cents on the nightmare that is social media. Here is her question (which has been edited for length and to omit personally identifying details):
For the last several years I've been sympathetic to the pro-life position, supportive of really early gestational limits (e.g. 10 weeks) and disliked the vilification of pro-lifers, but I wasn't politically anti-abortion. However, I am now leaning towards a politically anti-abortion position. 
One thing that is really making it hard for me to be open about this position, and I realize this sounds cowardly, is fear of people's opinions. 
This fear does not arise from nowhere. In debates on far less divisive topics, like education policy, I've been called a c***, Nazi b****, "in love with Trump" (I supported McMullin), etc. The attacks come from both sides of the political spectrum. It got so bad, I deleted facebook.
How do you recommend being open about one's views and dealing with potential negative comments?
Our response:
I wish I had the solution to this, but I do not. Abortion supporters bully pro-lifers on the internet because it's effective. By demoralizing those who would defend babies, the defenses are often weakened. It's the human condition, and beating yourself up for "cowardice" isn't going to make you any more confident. I can only offer two pieces of advice.
First, don't debate with the goal of persuading the bullies. Their minds are closed. Instead, keep the spectators at the top of your mind. When on-the-fence people see you, a pro-life person, advocating your position with compassion and reason while your opponents froth at the mouth, that can have a huge impact. 
Second, remember that it's okay to take a break. You can't help anyone if you're burned out. Walking away from facebook sounds like it was the right call. If you aren't up for a debate, double down on your charitable endeavors instead. I've made a practice of donating a box of diapers to a pregnancy care center after a stressful, self-pitying day. When you help others, you can't help helping yourself -- and don't give a second thought to whether the trolls notice you volunteering. You could single-handedly eliminate world hunger and they'd still support abortion. Keep your focus where it belongs: on women and babies in need. 
Readers, what can you add?

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

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