Chat Shouldn't Be Lord of the Flies

This essay's intention is to give you the skills you need to tolerate, perhaps even enjoy, the site-wide chat room. If you don't read and absorb it, you will very likely miss out on a fun but at the same time very challenging part of our community.

DarkPoetry is populated by many empathetic and supportive souls, and this is a large part of what makes it a good community.

However, we also have people who are not always humble and helpful: we have overbearing personalities, conceited gasbags, and even a few people who have not yet evolved beyond their violent backgrounds. But, hopefully, they're working on it.

As a consequence, conflict, bad behavior, and hurt feelings are all but inevitable. Perhaps for some of these people that's what they have often known in their own lives.

So what can you do when you find yourself confronted by one of these malefactors? If you are not ready to confront bad behavior in a gentle way, you might want to avoid using the chat. But you can also be the bigger person and take an action that diffuses theirs. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Simply tell them that what they said hurt  your feelings. Decent people will apologize at this point and you can continue to be friends, but if they choose to be indecent- say they belittle you for communicating how you feel, they only make themselves look like an ass to everybody else. How you feel is not up for mockery or debate- you own it. At that point you can use the ignore feature to block them.
  • Or, just walk away, they may not be worth your time and mental energy to respond to.
  • Or, just ignore them outright. They won't notice except that you stopped responding to them.

But what if you get really mad and want to fight back? Getting mad is a normal and natural response, but it's an animal response to fight back. Are you a dumb animal or a higher form of life? Mastering your control over your anger is hard, but it's completely possible and also completely necessary to have a good life. What else can you do when you're angry?

  • Go write an angry poem. Don't necessarily save or share it, just write it to get your feelings out.
  • Look away from what you're doing for a moment and listen to your breathing. Make it get slower and deeper. Before you know it, you'll have tamed that inner animal that almost got out and caused trouble.
  • For some people, getting up and doing something strenuously physical, like pushups, will burn off anger fast. And you'll get some much needed exercise.

In conclusion, the only person who can ensure that you have a fun experience in such a wild west place as the chatterbox is, you guessed it, you. You can't control what other people do, you can only control how you react to them. You are in charge.

Now go forth and be good to each other.
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