Sometimes interacting with others online feels like stepping onto a minefield. Snarky, judgemental comments abound. Trolls stand around every corner, waiting for your next mishap or misspelling. And with over 40% of the world having access to the internet (a number that’s increased 10-fold from 1999 to 2013) it seems the issue is only getting worse.

The problem isn’t only with trolls and extremists, though. Many of us are quick to judge (and comment) and it might just be necessary for all of us to take a step back and figure out how to be better online people. For the sake of online humanity - Here are 5 fool-proof ways to be a more compassionate and empathetic human being online.

1.    Remember everyone online is a real-life person

It’s easy to forget it, but everyone we see online is a real person. They have fears, thoughts, ambitions. They might be having a terrible day. Their thoughts might not be rational, but you’re in no way obliged to interact with them (especially when they’re unreasonable.) Let it go.

2.    Double check facts

Enough with the fake celeb death stories or too-good-to-be-true giveaways (Bill Gates won’t ever give you any money for clicking ‘share’ on a post). A quick Google or Snopes search will make you more informed (and less likely to be targeted by unfriendly people not reading this post).

3.    Be nice.

Celestine Chua, life coach behind the Personal Excellence blog recommends using a 3-question rule before posting anything online. Ask yourself:

- Is this something you would say to someone standing right in front of you?
- Will this hurt their feelings? Would you like it if the same is done to you?
- Would you say this if this person were your friend? Why not? Is the comment too harsh or insensitive? Amend it. Or just let it go.

4.    Give constructive criticism and be helpful.
If you really, really, really need to criticise someone, focus on giving constructive criticism. Don’t make it personal.
On that note - everyone has a skill set. You might even be able to help a person in need by not focusing on what they did wrong, but how you can constructively help them.

5.    Stop complaining all the time

We get it. Life sucks sometimes. Businesses make mistakes. People around you make mistakes. Blasting every local corner store for not giving you the organic smoothie you wanted gets tedious after a while. Accept that some of these issues can be resolved without involving your whole social media following.

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