Give Up On Toxic People

Digital Cleanse Day 12:

Give Up On Toxic People

Toxic people hide in plain sight. Online and in person, they’ll undermine your confidence, ruin your concentration and detract from your life’s work. Toxic people can also make you cry, raise your blood pressure and cultivate frustration. Don’t let toxic people surround you.

WITS - Walk Away, Ignore, Tell Someone, Seek Help
Courtesy of

School children are taught to use their WITS to deal with peer conflict.  This simple four-step program develops conflict resolution skills around a common vocabulary.

  • Walk Away
  • Ignore
  • Talk it Out
  • Seek Help

Adults can follow that same advice when dealing with toxic people online. It may seem simplistic but sometimes the simple solutions are best.

To walk away in a virtual environment you can unfriend and unfollow.  Depending on the level of toxicity on Facebook, you can unfollow, make a friend an acquaintance, curate a “toxic friends” list, unfriend or even block a toxic person.  Similarly, on Twitter and other tools you can use lists, unfollow or block.

If you have to sift through hundreds or thousands of names, unfriending and unfollowing can be a time consuming activity. To make the task more manageable, you could unfriend/unfollow next time you see that toxic person in your feed. Or, you could set aside some blocks of time to systematically work through your lists from A-Z. If you do this, work in small batches.  In addition, there are tools like Manage Flitter that allow you to set criteria to unfollow a bulk batch of Twitter accounts. For example, you might unfollow any account with the generic egg profile photo or any account that’s been inactive for a year or more.

To ignore a toxic person online takes a certain amount of discipline on your part. When they turn up in your newsfeed skim right past whatever they have to say. Not always easy to do but worthwhile if you’re better off without the toxic person.

It’s possible you have to interact with the toxic person. You could try the talk it out strategy.  An in-person conversation would be ideal so that you can read body language and hear tone. If a face-to-face meeting isn’t practical, a phone call is the next best alternative.  Your last resort should be written feedback. Too often sensitive issues can be misconstrued in writing and you end up aggravating the problem rather than resolving it. Also, remember that the toxic person may not realize their actions are offensive or negative. Proceed as diplomatically as you can.

Finally, if all else fails, you have the option to seek help. Most social networks have functionality to report abusive users.  Twitter Support offers a helpful how-to as does Facebook Help Center You may also be able to reach out to an administrator for assistance.

I hope you have zero toxic people in your life.  If you are dealing with them, know you are not alone! It’s a frustrating, maddening thing to experience but you can take step to give up on toxic people.

More on the 30 day #digitalcleanse tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

(If you missed yesterday’s installment, take a couple extra minutes to explore Get Over FOMO and Embrace JOMO. For links to the complete Digital Cleanse series, click here.)