As social media has continued to grow in popularity, so have keyboard warriors. And they ‘attack’ people at all levels. Whether you’re a happy hacker or a four-star event rider, you may encounter these individuals. So what can you do about them? Here are some helpful tips...

What are keyboard warriors?

They’re people that will comment on a picture, post or news story — any online content — with a cutting remark. They tend to have a point to make and an opinion, and will happily air it without any regard for how it’s being seen or taken, and often without full knowledge of a situation.

From there it can escalate quite quickly and become fairly unpleasant, with the individual casting aspersions on various aspects of the horse and rider, such as their attitude, care of horse, animal welfare, authenticity, etc.

Keyboard warriors lurk in all sports. And often an image, taken at a split second, can cause keyboard warriors to surface. A horse that is overbent for a stride and photographed can lead to a debate about hyperflexion, for example.

However, a posted picture isn’t the only trigger. Victoria Brant, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Eventer, has built a community in excess of 20k on Facebook, and has done this through telling her story.

“When your main intention is to help others and you get defamatory comments about the welfare of your horse and your terrible and ‘cruel’ riding technique, it makes you terribly upset,” she says.

“I still think about my hands moving and the comments that were written about them now and that was a comment posted four months ago!”

How do you deal with keyboard warriors?

Many social media platforms have functions that allow posts to be reported and, if posts take a threatening nature (such as the threat to kill or cause damage) then they should be reported to the police. However, the comments might not warrant this kind of action. “I often deal with it badly,” admits Victoria. “I go into myself, feel worried posting anything and consider giving it all up.

“Everyone always tells you to rise above it, but it’s personal, you shouldn’t have to. I just close the shutters on it and think of the things I’m lucky to have, the supportive friends and family that know the real me and love me for being that person.”

‘Rising above it’ can be easier said than done, but entering into an all-too-public slanging match isn’t the appropriate course of action either. Moving a conversation to private messaging can be a good move. Remember to keep calm and don’t lose your cool. Maintain a professional, collected front at all times — even if inside you’re not dealing with it all that well. Of course, you always have the block and delete function too, which can be useful.

Continued below…

Jane Pike is an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) coach and practitioner, a certified mental skills coach and the creator of confidentrider.online. “One of the biggest life lessons I have learned is this; it is not up to other people to believe in your dreams. That’s your job. You don’t need their validation, or their permission to go ahead,” she says.

“Only you are the custodian of what it is that you want for your life, how you want to behave and what you want to achieve or do. Don’t waste your time wondering or thinking about what other people think of you because it really is none of your business.

“And you know something else? It’s completely out of your control,” Jane says. “It’s impossible to get everyone to like you or approve of you, and why would you want to? Everyone sees the world through their own filter as a result of all of their past experiences, actions and environments, and accepting that is the key to liberation.

“Instead of worrying about the negativity of others, or on those who ‘don’t like you’, instead focus on being the best person and rider you can be.

“Use any incoming negativity as a reminder of your values and aspirations, and respond (or simply don’t respond!) in a way that makes you proud. Respond in a way that if you were to be captured on CCTV, you would think, ‘yeah, I really nailed that. Go me.’ In a way that if it went viral on the internet, you’d be kind of chuffed. Let people like you not because of who are trying to be, but because of who you genuinely are.

“And if they don’t, well… Forget them. It’s not your job to make everyone like you. It’s your job to live out your life and dreams with soul and purpose. And it’s their job to do the same with their lives,” she adds.

There’s a line between expressing an opinion, and bullying by being a ‘keyboard warrior’. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, you shouldn’t really type it.