Remember how it was back in sweet, innocent old 2015?
- People obsessed over BulletProof Coffee
- People paid attention to what the Kardashians were doing.
- Thigh gate was the biggest scandal to hit the internet, wherein advertisers were busted for photoshopping out the upper thighs of already lean models so they wouldn’t, you know, touch each other. Target apologized, says Time Magazine.
- We theorized about the next Game of Thrones book.
- The Whip/Nae Nae. Need I say more?
And Then 2016 Happened
If you were socially conscious, you either pursued persuasion quietly or you became vocal about it online, hoping to sway friends and family with your views. Since the election, there’s all this roiling energy, but nowhere clear to direct it, as we had during the election or even the global women’s marches recently that brought millions of people together without a single violent incident! What a victory!!
Your challenge now, should you choose to accept it, is to advance social good online without becoming a troll. This is where drawing on the wisdom of the deer rather than going “deer in the headlights” serves us.
What Is “Deer Medicine,” and Does It Taste Bad?
It’s a stunning Friday morning outside as I gaze out to the gently flowing stream in my wildly wooded back yard. It teems with deer, who dominate the space. They have a way that’s gentle and yet clever and powerful, because predators do lurk.
National Geographic says:
In the wild, white-tails, particularly the young, are preyed upon by bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes. They use speed and agility to outrun predators, sprinting up to 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour and leaping as high as 10 feet (3 meters) and as far as 30 feet (9 meters) in a single bound.
“Deer Medicine” Means Learning From Their Behavior
Let’s say you post a little article, image, or video that promotes social good the way you see it from a benevolent perspective. It’s simply a humorous or sincere point of view. It might even be from a prominent newspaper or TV channel, like CNN.
You know what happens next
Suddenly a flock of people you’ve never met or haven’t talked to in 10 years pops up with a venomous diatribe laced with personal insults and maybe even ugly threats… because it triggers a whole backlog of fear and anger that’s been simmering for over a year. At this point, there’s no logical, sensible way to talk anybody into your point of view and it requires what some call “Deer Medicine.”
How To Use “Deer Medicine” In Four Sweet Words:
Don’t Feed The Trolls.
Respond to hard words with softness that bends without breaking.
True trolls feed off others’ outraged emotional energy as a shadow kind of intimacy. They crave outraged retaliation because it’s a game to them. It’s validation. It’s like the prank calls people used to make, hoping and praying for an enraged outburst to snicker over.
Today, trolling can refer to normal people with families and jobs who are simply overstimulated and emotionally hot about all this sociological mess. They feel backed into a corner, even though you posted on your own profile and didn’t call them out by name.
These people usually respond positively to kindness and gentleness. It’s a balm to the fiery fear mongering out there. Nobody is likely to change their mind right away, but at least relationships can be preserved. And human dignity.
My best tips that I try to follow:
- Stay curious and open-minded.
- Stay chill.
- Stay your best self.
That’s how you show up every day to advance social good without becoming a troll, or at least the way I see it after spending years researching and conducting online crisis interventions and writing a published book on the subject.
What do you think? How do you feel about discussing social change online? What would you like to see happen?
Please scroll down to the comments and let your voice be heard. This is a safe place for you to share how you feel about all this, I promise, because I moderate comments personally.