May 27, 2015

11 Ways to Handle Critism Online.

I googled this once and didn't find very helpful suggestions on how to deal with trolls online so I hope I can help someone else with more practical ways to handle the heat when being attacked online or in the media.

1. Handle it like a pro

Like Bey! BeyoncĂ© is a celebrity who knows the up and down sides of her star lit world. She understands that she can be hailed "hosanna" one day and "crucify him" the next so whether it's a pregnancy rumour or a split scare, you never see 'yonce react in the media but be sure she'll post an innocent picture of her flat belly or a casual picture of a romantic getaway to frighten the lie back into the shadows. So don't join the drama or get riled up and add to the heat- make sure the people you are trying to prove a point to are really worth it before working up a sweat.

2. Let others fight for you

I wrote an article on BellaNaija and someone came for me in the comment section. See a screen grab from the comment section and the article I wrote here. Luckily, readers called this critic out.

3. See if there is anything to learn from the criticism

Again on the same site, Cindy kept leaving contrary comments and after getting refuted a few times by other users, the young lady's comment finally dwindled down to the real emotions behind the outburst.

Sometimes the person might have a point they are trying to make but are lacking in the interpersonal and relational skill to make it...

4. Don't fuel the fire

Most of the time the general public is not really aware of whatever the story is about and in responding fire for fire you draw their attention to the story revealing even more information than what was originally out there.

I see people respond on TV or top magazines to accusations made on one small blog or through the grapevine and shake my head in amazement as the subject takes the bait and helps their critic or attacker spread the venom about them to more people on a platform the critic would never have gotten access to. Why share your spot light with the enemy? Retain your right to keep your affairs private and refocus the spotlight on your achievements instead.

5. Address the facts only, ignore the vitriol.

Example: X is a stupid whore and husband snatcher.
Response:X is a married woman whose husband was previously unmarried.

If you must respond, address the facts only but side step the landmines of provocation. A tantrum thrower wants nothing more than for you to give them a reason that justifies their bad behaviour. They are always waiting for you to get caught in the mud fight and sling some shots back at them so they can feel justified to hurl more dirt at you.

They are probably better at mud slinging and tantrum throwing than you, the worst mistake you can make is to stoop down to their level and get into their comfort zone. Instead be like America and don't negotiate or engage with terrorists.

6. See it for what it is

Don't let the poison sink in. More than half the time it is not about you but about them.

7. Delete. Ignore

Know what to ignore. Not everything deserves your attention.

8. Keep records where necessary for future reference

Keep print screens, correspondences, recordings especially if they are threats or you suspect criminal intent. You might need to file a case in the future and you will need evidence to prove it.

9. Don't play their games

Don't enter their mind games and play by their rules. Most stalkers et al construct an image of who they think they are dealing with, that person is not you. This image fits their fantasy idea of the relationship they have conjured up with you in their heads. So reaffirm that you are not that fantasy image by not playing along in the roles they have defined for you in their obsessions.

10. Set and communicate your boundaries

Let people know what sort of comments or behaviours are accepted on your platform. And be ready to take action that reinforce your boundaries.

11.Take action

Delete comments, block trolls, unfriend, uninvite, unfollow or take down accounts.

Ultimately there is a devil- that's your real enemy. Don't waste fuel fighting the people letting him use them. Sometimes when the heat is unwarranted and unfair get on your knees and address things from the source.

Don't forget to breathe! This too shall pass!

Photo credit:

May 08, 2015

The Ghost of the Ex: Things you should know

The ex that remains in your head. The one you imagine you will see when you are having a bad hair day. The one your mind pesters you about running into when you are at your worst.

The one that haunts you with only the saddest memories of that chapter and exaggerates the impact of the pain on the present. The ex you are supposed to forget but don't.

Rather than be tormented by these ghosts, here are truths about the situation to give you a more peaceful perspective on your past and keep you from being nervous about running into them in the future.

They are not better (or worse) off than you

Seriously speaking we think about the ex way more than we would admit-where they are in their lives right now and what they would think of ours. And especially when we were the ones who were left, we hope they would be impressed gobsmacked, no dumbstruck at what we've done with our life. We want them to know that we are not "there" where they left us and get more satisfaction than we should when we run into them at our best and even more so if we find them at their worst.

If you live long enough you realise that life is difficult and no one is exempt from the ebb and flow of good and bad, success and failure, ease and difficulty that characterize our existence. And that being the leveller, your ex, just like you is struggling through parts of their life and coasting through others and it has nothing to do with who he or you ended up with. So no you don't need to prove "I am doing well without you" or get even "your life will be hell without me". You only have to remember that it isn't always what it seems and put less value on appearances- yours and theirs.

They have nothing on you

It stings to be on the receiving end of a quit notice from a relationship. The other person was prepared and you were not! By the time you could come up with your own reasons why the relationship wasn't working for you, the referee had declared the winner, the crowd had cheered and you were the only one left in the ring! But the score is less obvious than the ten points to none you were dealt.

If you are married long enough you realise that no person is perfect no less the person who read you the riot act. They will go on to date/live with/marry someone who will also have faults and get the unpleasant punishment of bearing with their partner's flaws. They also will exhibit flaws that justify that long and tired list you drew up about why they weren't perfect for you either. So before you run after their retreating shadow yelling "you didn't fire me, I quit", remember the real audit of both the character of the person who fired and the one who was fired is coming regardless of who called it quits first.

You broke up with them too

Not that "he jilted me" , "she broke my heart" , "he left me for someone else" , "he ended the relationship" ," he rejected me " but that "we broke up", "our relationship ended", "we went our separate ways".

Own your choice whether it came second or was the result of the other person's decision; whether you said it to their face or it was the only option left for you to accept- you had a voice in there somewhere too. It might have been "if he couldn't stay then he didn't deserve me to stay and I am leaving too!" or "Although I have never had or entertained a reason not to continue in this relationship, now I do with this freshly surfacing fact that she wants out, so I want out too!".

If you've been around long enough you realise that the dynamics of life are sometimes like a game of chess- it's all about making and responding to moves. So put less value on who made the first move or who made the second move, sometimes there is a benefit to your opponent making the first move because then you can calculate your next move better.

Your version of events count

Not that you are bad but you were simply misunderstood. Not that you went that low to have dated someone you now feel didn't deserve you, but that you didn't know then that they didn't. Not that you must be stupid to have made a stupid mistake but that you didn't know better or know enough.

If you've been around long enough you realise there are two sides to every story. The story from your perspective of events counts too and certainly above expressed, perceived or popular opinion on what went wrong. Remember you can stick with your story as you understood it and find shelter from other versions that cast you in the worst light.

It wasn't all bad

Just like it wasn't all good memories, it wasn't all bad either. So don't be so hard on yourself for letting someone into your life that caused you pain or unfair to them by blaming them for it. There were some of your needs that were met, there were some parts of it you could be faulted with, there might be something in it for you. Shall we only accept the good and not the bad?

If you look back far enough into your past, you realise that no one experience has defined your entire life either as good or bad, happy or sad but there were good or bad legs along the journey of your generally good life -the rest of which is still unwritten. So let all the facts come in before you decide that that experience ruined your life, or was the worst thing that happened to you, don't judge a book by a chapter.

You got away with it

When we are hurt in a relationship, we want the person who hurt us to know how much their actions affected us, we even want them to experience the pain they caused us. We don't want them to get away easy. But if we expect them to get a taste of their medicine shouldn't we also expect to receive punishment for those we've also hurt? If the ill we wished the ex we are aggrieved with took root, it might still not be a satisfying feeling or it's poison might have far reaching consequences beyond our intentions affecting other innocent lives. Sometimes what we need is the work we will have to do within ourselves, we might find it much more satisfying than the jungle justice we have in mind.

Sometimes just by walking on their own journey a person who once hurt us might realise their mistake, other times just by walking on our journey, we find restoration through one event, person, perspective or the other. Sometimes just by going on you find a you that can surprisingly let it all go. What they have given you in disguise is an opportunity- probably one to stand on your own and find your own strength or an option to live a different life from the dysfunction theirs is.

If you observe life close enough you realise that without any help on anyone's part people stumble and fall. They even fall by their own hands and suffer of their own doing. They are the first to reap the seeds of their character faults. Put less emphasis on whether they got away with it or not, just make sure you got away unbroken in spite of it.

They were never yours to own

We hold on too tightly to our belongings- the things we've gotten used to having and holding, loving and cherishing that we forget they aren't ours to own. They may be ours to cherish and love, to hold and have through the season or seasons but never ours to own. So our love must be wise enough to be free- freely taking, freely giving, never a debt; freely coming, freely going, never a shackle; free to enter, free to leave; never a bondage.

If you think long enough about it, you come to the conclusion that little in life is yours to control, not this person and certainly not the choices they made. They were theirs to make when they came into your life and theirs to make when they left. They can leave. It's a choice they have. That's how come they can leave you, because you don't own them. That's how come you can let them go, because you don't own them. They came, they left and it's A-Okay! You didn't loose them, you didn't fail- they weren't yours to own anyway.

It's okay you didn't forget them

No one really does and it's okay not to. It is in error to think that we can forget. Have you ever caught the whiff of a perfume and remembered a person? Has an event from the past come to mind without your help? Has a name or face you haven't heard or seen in years just drop into your conscious mind without being invoked ?

If you look back far enough, you can find a long list of things you forgot but got reminded of so don't bother with forgetting instead live with it, the past co-existing peacefully with the present.

Final thoughts

When I started writing this post, I naturally assumed an ending with the conclusion to crush, eliminate, bury and send Psalm 91 prayers after those good for nothing thoughts ghosts that remain long after their essence have been buried but found enlightenment in the very act of attempting to ask you to do what I couldn't- forget.

For a long time I had a hard time wrapping my head around a series of innocent misunderstandings that surrounded and probably also led to the demise of a previous relationship with an ex and his family. After trying to explain it to myself I resigned to the truth that at the end of the day this family were complete strangers who didn't know me and whom I didn't know as well, so it was understandable if they misread my intentions and if I didn't understand their actions. They were strangers and the opinions of strangers shouldn't carry so much weight. It definitely could be brushed off if it couldn't be forgotten.

The length of time you spent in that relationship was only a fraction compared to your life, its not important enough for you to immortalize it or engrave it in the sands of time. Acknowledge it but dismiss it casually with a "it happened a long time ago" or a "it's not relevant now". Give it the same distance time has put between you and the past.

Sometimes its really all in your head, those ghosts. Not real. After breaking up with an ex, I expected to run into him not only in places we used to visit but in places I imagined he would frequent - embassies, airports, hotels, even on the internet dripping in fan love but it was me who turned up in those places, it was me who met my expectations of where I'd expect a person to be to look like they had moved forward!

Put all the ghosts out of your mind and all of your thoughts on yourself for a change, by remembering to think about you, you opt to forget about them.

May 05, 2015

It's Guest Post Tuesday!

Today I am lending my platform to Fola Aina, a policy analyst and advocate of good governance and youth development. Hear what he has to say-

On March 28th, 2015, Nigerians came out en mass to vote in the country’s presidential elections which had been shifted from its previous date. The news making the rounds was that the elections had to be rescheduled to allow for time to oust the dreaded Boko Haram sect in the North Eastern part of the country. Nigerians has since shown the world that their collective will surpasses the acts of misguided terrorists who hide under the cover of innocent and unarmed citizens. The elections have since been credited as being one of the most credible in the history of Nigeria’s democratic sojourn.

From Mali to Kenya, and across the rest of the African continent, the threat posed by terrorism remains real. Its effects have left devastating and irreversible scars on inhabitants of local communities and city centres, across the continent. While terrorism remains universal, it has become a major issue to an increasing number of African governments, thereby impeding efforts aimed at fast-tracking economic growth and development on the continent. With an ever increasing population and an emerging economy, Nigeria has an undeniable responsibility in providing the much needed leadership in dismantling, decapitating and ultimately destroying organised terrorism on the continent.

Before now, Nigeria’s foreign policy took on a more vibrant and assertive posture in West Africa. Nigeria was at the forefront of efforts aimed at ensuring peace and security in the sub region. These efforts were complimented by the active participation of Nigerian troops, adjudged to be one of the best in the world, in UN peacekeeping missions. However, domestic challenges emanating from the Niger Delta region a few years into the forth republic, in the form of armed militancy, brought on Nigeria, the need to re-evaluate and cut short on her Afrocentric adventurism in West Africa.

Some are of the opinion that Nigeria still has a lot of issues to content with at home and as such, cannot afford the luxury of stepping up for those who seek her wealth of experience in peace building and peacekeeping. While these postulations hold true, they should not negate the necessity of timely engagement, taking into account the likelihood of looming domino effects resulting from negligence. Make no mistakes; Nigeria’s failure to demonstrate and follow through on her commitments to providing actionable leadership in Africa is a grave strategic miscalculation on the continent.  Nigeria must demonstrate its collective resolve in rooting out terrorism within her boarders while intensifying concrete steps directed at suffocating the menace posed by terrorist groups on the continent.

The attack in Garrisa, Kenya in recent times, by a group of armed terrorists which left 147 people dead is a constant reminder that all efforts need to be on deck in crippling terrorist activities on the African continent. In pursuing this objective, Nigeria through trust building, should seek for additional ways in which she can match her diplomatic rhetoric with demonstrable actions. It is not enough to ‘pledge support’ to our friends and allies as they struggle with the devastation that accompanies acts of terror. For instance, Nigeria should be able to, and politically willing, to consolidate on her diplomatic relations with Kenya, by sending a small contingent of Special Operations Forces, alongside a medical team, equipment and logistics as a ‘show of support’ to Kenya.

Nigeria must also strengthen the collective resolve of her regional partners such as Chad, Cameroun, and Benin, in dislodging terrorism. It is unacceptable and unfortunate that while we were once the envy of these countries, we have had to almost completely depend on them for our external security. The need to embark on the task of rebuilding Nigeria’s military apparatus has never been more urgent. No country should have to suffer in the hands of terrorists.

 No efforts should be spared in mobilizing resources aimed at establishing a truly formidable 21st Century military force. Lives are at stake. We should therefore give this the due attention it deserves. We should never seat back, with our arms folded while innocent lives suffer in the hands of barbaric miscreants who call themselves terrorists. Freedom is a universal human right which must be respected. The kidnapping of over 200 girls in Chibok community, exactly a year ago is a painful reminder of the need to vigorously pursue the safety of lives and property in the wake of growing terrorism both domestically and internationally.

This is call to all and should not only be heeded by African leaders, but also African citizens as well. We all have a collective responsibility to ensure that we stand up for the most vulnerable in our midst.

Follow Fola on Twitter @folanski
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