In this line of work (meaning public-facing roles online) it can be a challenge to handle and work through days that don't go your way.
Whether you're a content creator, a moderator, a community manager, or any other myriad number of public-facing roles online, there are going to be days that just flat out suck.
In her most recent newsletter, Victoria Tran asked in her monthly conversation starter how to decompress after a rough day. That got me thinking about the things that help me re-center after a tough day and what great advice I've received about handling bad days in the past.
The fact of the matter is that there will be bad days. No matter what you do professionally, and even in our personal lives, some days are just going to be bad, and that's part of life. But especially in online spaces, it can be easy to get so sucked into negative feedback, doom scrolling, and feel like every minor road bump is actually a major setback. To some extent, I think the internet takes whatever is happening and amplifies it to the umpteenth degree.
On good days, that's great! But on bad days, not so much. A single hurtful comment can start a chain reaction of negative feedback, personal insults, and unkind people saying deliberately unkind things that will ruin your day. It's a risk of the job, and why increasingly, public-facing roles offer mental healthcare.
These recent thoughts and conversations have led me to write this short piece here. My 5 Tips for how to handle a bad day on the internet.
Remember that most of the time, discourse cycles reset in 24-48 hours. So if you're taking it on the chin right now, it will be over soon.
Unplug from the internet. Whether you wait to respond and clear your head for an hour, or you take some time at the end of the day to turn off your devices and relax, you need time away from the internet.
Connect with someone outside the situation. It could be 30 minutes of playing with your dog or getting drinks with a friend, but getting in some meaningful time with someone who doesn't work in the same field as you helps you to focus on what really matters (and it helps if when you start to explain the issue to them they go, "Wait, and people are upset about that? Why?"
Self-care is so important, because things like this eat up your emotional energy quickly. I like to play video games or read a book to really immerse myself in something that isn't work-related. Escapism is real and it helps.
Remember that just like you're a real person impacted by the situation, there are other real people being affected as well. No matter what caused the day to be bad, there are hurting people out there, and for many of us, our job is to help heal and right those wrongs when possible.
So there you have it! I've had my fair share of rough days, just like anyone else, and those five things help keep me centered and focused on what really matters: the people involved and their well-being (which includes you!).
If you're reading this and you aren't in a public-facing position online, I do have a takeaway for you too: There are real people handling every brand account and support desk that you interact with. Even if the company that they work for did something heinous, that doesn't mean that the individual who is on the receiving end of your anger and frustrations is personally responsible for what happened, nor does it mean that you have the right to treat them as less than human.
We're all just trying to survive in this capitalist hellscape. Don't take it out on the people who aren't decision makers.