Thanks to the rise of the internet and social media, we can share our thoughts and feelings with people around the globe almost instantly. This has its downsides though, as the ease and convenience of posting online mean that people are more prone to making comments without fully considering their consequences. Think of how many stories there have been of celebrities damaging their reputations by making inflammatory remarks on Twitter or other social media accounts. When it takes hours or even days to share an idea with someone, you have time to contemplate and decide what the best course of action is. Yet when you can publicly respond to someone in a matter of seconds, you open yourself up to saying or doing something you’ll regret later.

An important part of being a good online citizen is being mindful of our virtual relationships and our reputation. Online conversations can have a major impact on our daily lives, so while platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to post almost anything you want, your words will always have consequences, so take the time to find the best way to express yourself.

Why You Should Avoid Posting While Angry

The most obvious reason that online anger should be avoided is that it doesn’t really solve anything. People don’t respond well to people yelling at them or insulting them and won’t go over any better over the internet either. Social media is not the best place for an intellectually stimulating debate, and a long-winded tirade in an echo chamber isn’t going to solve anything.

More importantly though, people can turn cruel at the height of their anger, saying things that they would never say if they were thinking more clearly. This can lead you to say things that you’ll end up regretting later. Plus, unlike an argument done in private, nastiness that plays out in a social media post or a comment section is open for anyone to see, including other friends and loved ones. A disagreement between two people can quickly spiral out of control and wind up impacting your entire social group.

Your personal life isn’t the only thing that posting while angry can damage either. Employers are known to check applicant’s online presence to get a sense of who they are, so if rude public posts come up consistently, it can serve as a red flag. Bad behavior online can also cost you other opportunities: people have been kicked out of clubs, expelled from school, and even been fired due to their online behavior.

How To Stay Calm

Even if you recognize how potentially harmful it is to let out your anger where everyone can see it, it can still be tough to listen to reason when you’re feeling heated. After all, we aren’t usually thinking about the long-term consequences of something when we post it online. Then how do we avoid letting our anger get the best of us while online?

The first and most obvious solution is to not post when you’re already feeling angry and frustrated. Turn to some other activity when you’re feeling down to avoid the temptation of lashing out. Likewise, if you come across something online that’s upset you, your best bet is usually to force yourself to leave the situation: step away from the computer or put down the mobile device, then go for a walk or do some other activity to work out your frustration. If you have the option, talk to someone else about how you’re feeling: a supportive friend can talk you through what you’re feeling and calm you down.

After some time has passed, if you’re still feeling frustrated, you can look to other options to express yourself. Consider starting a journal: getting out your frustrations in writing can be a great way to work through how you’re feeling, but you don’t necessarily need to post where other people will see it. However, if you have a specific grievance with something that someone else has said or done, try talking to them about it in private: meet up with them face-to-face or send them a private message. So long as you go into the conversation with a calm mind and good faith, you’ll be in a much better position to walk away from the discussion

Minding our virtual relationships and crafting our online personas is a relatively new way to interact with others, but at the end of the day, what is considered “socially acceptable” behavior online isn’t much different from real life. If you are mindful of your behavior and take steps to avoid needless conflict, you’ll be happy both online and offline.