Last fall, I decided to join a Facebook group created for a product I had become a fan of. The group was established to provide a safe space for women to share their positive experiences and tips for the product. Since joining, I have witnessed it often becoming a caddy space for internet bullies and mean girls to choose and attack their victims. What has become more disturbing, is watching those victims engage in the negativity rather than dusting if off and moving on. Like a bad mold, they feed these mean girlsꟷgiving them the powerꟷto continue the cycle. And, as a result, I have witnessed the unsuspecting victim becoming so worked up in the process, that they end up also becoming an aggressor in the attack. Heck, I believe we have all been there one time or another. I know I have. Overtime, I have recognized my part in the event and decided to find strategies to assist me with disengaging with the mean girl and not allowing myself to continue to be the victim. I have found strategies for coping with the mean girl’s aggression and aiding my ability to walk away without being aggressive and fighting back at the cost of my own self worth. Crazy thing is, often I have had no idea I was pulled into it and began participating. This was one of the main reasons I resigned from my job last fall. When I weighed all the factors, the cost of a paycheque was not worth my integrity.
Truth be told, we are not immune; and for someꟷ like me, these very mean girls will be sharing your office space and your internet social media space. What I have learned in the process is, it is hard to not want to engage and set the record straight. Or, when the attack is against another person and your wanting to fit in and find yourself unconsciously engaging on the same side as the mean girls. It’s tough but it then becomes about us and who we are and how we are viewed. If you weigh all the factors and look at it from an unemotional place (usually takes me a few hours or overnight to get to this spot depending on the mean girl’s attack severity) then hopefullyꟷas I do, disengage with your head held high knowing you have not allowed another person’s control to affect you in such a profound way.
Bullies and mean girls are everywhere. They are not just in school. No, they are grown up women still targeting their victims and playing the same games as adults as they did when they were adolescents. However, today’s mean girl is quite different than when I was in Jr. High. Today, the mean girls ammunition has taken a new turn from the nasty notes passed during class with a new angle of attack ꟷ social media. Sad thing is, this behaviour is being displayed by women of all ages. And if you ꟷ like me, have become a victim of a mean girl attack, having a few gems in your back pocket to disengage may help. I have gathered 7 of my own strategies for dealing with a mean girl ꟷ sharing with you to hopefully allow you to walk away and stay beautiful.
- A mean girl loves a person who they know they can intimidate. It’s their power trip. They look for a weak spot and WHAM; you’re their target, and they will use it to their advantage. They will work their mean girl spirit effortlessly snatching away any bit of over confidence you may exhibit. Keep it balanced and learn to spot them as effortlessly as they have spotted you and balance that confidence. You don’t want to give her any more power and boost her ego. I recall as a child being bullied by a mean girl every time I went swimming. This girl made me so afraid to walk home and often would follow me and intimidate me by placing herself in front of me trying with every ounce to get me to push her so she could start a fight. I had no idea at the time that what I had learned about as a child in walking way would be no different than what I have learned as an adult. Eventually, she stopped. She eventually got tired of my non-compliance with her mean girl rule book and she more than likely moved on to another target.
- Mean girls are always right and will NEVER admit a mistake or take responsibility for anything. In my experiences, I have come to recognize that not every hill is worth dying on and have often let it go without compromising myself along the way. When your part of a social media group and sharing your successes or ideas, you may be the subject of a mean girl’s attack. She does not want you to shine in her court. If your able to recognize the subtle attack comments, you should be able to disengage.
- A mean girl does not like to be upstaged. Remember, she is always right. I learned this lesson the hard way and only puts the mean girl at the advantage to do more harm. Upstaging threatens her every core of thinking that she is the end all, be all of existence. If you remember this tip, you should have an easier time in deciding whether you need to be right or need to let it go and move on and know your integrity is still intact.
- Avoid defending yourself in the mean girl attack. This will turn into your weak point and give her more reason to continue in her mean-spirited ways. She loves the challenge of an argument. Anything to show you that she is better than you. Remember tip number 3? Walk away from the computer and disengage. After all ꟷ if you remove the oxygen from the fire ꟷ it goes out.
- Ask yourself these two questions ꟷ how much bullying can you tolerate and how important is the social media platform you are a part of? I’ve had to ask myself this question in a much more difficult format as I had to decide if my job was worth the mean girl attacks. I spent more than 6 months analyzing that question amid being subjected to mean girl comments and, as a staff member pointed out to me “working in such a combative environment”. I believe it’s the most difficult questions one will have to ask themselves in any mean girl situation as it makes us vulnerable to thinking they have won. However, today when I look back at not engaging on a social media platform or even deciding to resign from my great paying job, I have no regrets. Mean girls will be mean girls. They will find another person to belittle and strip apart and they will continue until they go on their own self discovery journey. And if they never come to that self awareness, they will continue on the cycle with the next person they feel they can intimidate.
- Do your own research. Over the years, I have taken mediation training, courses on dealing with difficult people and even assertiveness training to educate and work on myself in becoming a better version of me. I am always reading and learning new things; including topics about social media. One thing I have discovered is so many people today are wanting to be the next big internet sensation. Let’s be honest here, most of us are looking for the most ‘likes’, the most comments or anything that will boost algorithm and get the attention. For business professionals, its business; however, for the mean girl, its the stimulation of the drama they can create. When I read a mean girl comment, I often ask myself a few questions. Is this a legitimate profile? Could this person be looking for attention to boost their online presence or cause drama? In other words, what is the motive behind the comment? It takes me a few seconds to recognize what is legit and what is not. In the long run, a few quick questions allow me to process and make choices based on reason and not reaction. There is a difference between a comment that you may not agree with and comments that are threatening in nature or attacking someone’s character. Comments I may not agree with, I believe are easier to move on from and not engage. The other, I believe should be noted, screen shot and forwarded to those whose online position take care of those items. And in severe cases the legal authorities. Which brings me to my final shared thought.
- Document the incident. I have had to do this within my job and with online mean girls. I have learned to weed out what is just a mean comment and what is threatening and attacking my character. I don’t think I am alone in saving an email or having to use the screen shot tool on a mobile device or computer to capture comments made by someone who has made aggressively towards you. While it is difficult to confirm who may be on the other end of these comments, I believe having a timeline of the incidents with details and quotes is far better than having nothing.
Mean girls are going to exist. They will target you, tear you down and work effortlessly and manipulatively to seek out your weak spots. Stay beautiful and balanced; that way you will not only be cautious about their presence but you will keep your calm spirit should they pounce. xo
“A successful woman is the one who can build a strong foundation with the bricks that others have thrown at her”. -Unknown