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  • Elizabeth R Billingsley

The Age of Keyboard Cowards

Updated: Feb 7

Hello everyone!

I can honestly say this has blog been a long time coming. Social media is running amok with what I like to call keyboard cowards. What is a keyboard coward you ask? It’s quite simple. A keyboard coward is someone who will sit behind a computer or mobile device and bully and say whatever they want to other people without hesitation or worry about the consequences but, if you set them in front of those same people, face to face; they would never utter the words they type on the screen. They have perceived power but no real power. They have perceived intelligence and prowess but in person that would be up for debate. They have a perceived ability to harm you but in reality, they are quite cowardly. No one can harm your sense of purpose or worth with words, whether typed or said, unless you let them.

I am sure there is not one person reading this blog that has not encountered such an individual online or on social media. I encountered one only last week. I have encountered them both directed at me and at others. Their brazenness is actually appalling and quite disturbing. However, I have learned a few things by watching their antics as well as being subjugated to them at times. I have learned that they are usually angry about something that has nothing to do with you. They are also usually very hurt individuals and hurt people, hurt people. They hide behind their keyboards because it is in fact, the only place they are comfortable interacting with others. I have also learned how to deal with a keyboard coward. If you are going to put yourself out there as I have with a message, especially on the internet, you must learn how to deal with these people. I must also add, you are going to have to learn not to take it personally. When we take the attack of a keyboard coward personally, they win.

In dealing with a keyboard coward, you must understand one fundamental thing; their attack on you is not about you. Their attack on you is about them and their lack of ability to relate to others in a healthy way. They could not do this whether it was in person or online. As I said before, in person they would become quite the coward or perhaps even passive aggressive but they could not interact in a healthy way. The keyboard, no matter the device, gives them a sense of power and another protective layer. I have used some very effective strategies in dealing with keyboard cowards as a writer and I want to share them with you.

Strategy #1: Do not engage.

I do not engage in conversations with people online or in person who are blatantly disrespectful or nasty. I don’t have to. They don’t get to speak into my life. They don’t know me and they did not make me. They will not control me in this manner. I tell them, “I’m not having this conversation.” If the conversation has already started and they become disrespectful or nasty, I simply say “this conversation is over.” I don’t curse, I don’t get threatening. I just end it. I delete and block online. I walk away in person. You do not have to tolerate disrespect in any form or fashion. If they really wanted to have a conversation with you, they would have one instead of resorting to name calling, insults and verbal abuse.

Strategy #2: Thank them for their thoughts, reading, etc., and tell them to have a nice day!

I do this all the time, especially on line. Do you know why? You return hatefulness with kindness in this way. You also take the high road for anyone coming behind you who is reading your comments and interactions. I employ this strategy when I see the conversation moving away from useful and uplifting speech. I have already tried to keep the conversation on a positive note or uplifting for both of us and I see that the other person will not engage me in that manner. I leave the conversation in a polite way but don’t have to literally disengage or shut it down like I do in strategy #1 for situations of blatant disrespect.

Strategy #3: Silence

Silence has both good and bad qualities. If you need to work something out with someone who is good-willed, silence is not the best alternative. However, when dealing with a keyboard coward, silence can be useful and in fact it sends a powerful message. Silence sends keyboard cowards two messages; “your comments and attitude are not worth the time and energy that would be used to respond to them. I will not expend my valuable energy throwing my pearls before swine.” The second message is this: “you will not control me through intimidation and bullying.”

These are strong messages. I’ve used silence before many times, both to deal with keyboard cowards and face to face because they gave me no other choice.

Basically, if a bully does not get a reaction out of you, it’s no fun for them. They lose their pizzazz. They lose their power and control. They lose their ability to influence you. This principle applies both online and in person. I know these strategies may sounds simple, but they work. They bring peace to you. The bully is responsible for finding their own peace if they so choose. Choose carefully with whom you engage. You are worthy of respect and dignity as a human being. Do not tolerate anything else.

I will leave you with this:

Matthew 7:6 NIV (Jesus); "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Peace,

Elizabeth

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