In this era of COVID-19 lockdown/restriction that has been affecting most parts of the world, we are being pushed to delve into the world wide web. It gives us limitless opportunities in various industries, especially when previously, some of us only served our customers/clients face-to-face with our products and services. If we embrace this particular change, we can come up with innovative solutions to the problems, and serve or sell to even greater numbers of people in any location, as things can now be done virtually through the help of online businesses.

Newly adapted practices, through online or digital means, have become our new normal. Appointments, networking, and meetings that we used to have in actual locations have now turned into Zoom calls; online shopping has become our new addiction, and working from home has become normalised. It has helped us widen our reach, especially for small business owners who want to take their businesses to the next level, despite the challenges we are facing right now.

With the help of various social media platforms, we are now able to market our businesses and make a living at a reasonably low cost. For me, I use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and my own website. Right now, I shamelessly market myself in front of millions of people on the internet. I post actively on social media, do podcasts, and even join various Facebook groups to promote my relationship coaching and spa therapy offerings, to heal stressed people and strengthen their relationships.

I remember my social media coach once said: “The more you open yourself to be known by others online, you become more susceptible to receiving negative feedback and online trolling by others. So you need to grow your ‘dickhead bubble’ bigger.” Oh how I love her analogy and terminology, but unfortunately it came true last week.

In a closed online group, I was requested to be the “love doctor” by the admin. This is not a paid gig and I’m doing it to support singles in that community. In exchange for my hours to support them, the admin told me to post about my business from time to time. During the online gatherings, the singles can ask me questions, I share tips and advice for those who simply want to heal from their past, and also to those who are ready and willing to try again. I have also contributed by engaging and posting a few positive posts to uplift their spirit, especially during lockdown, which has been tough for singles living alone.

But then recently, after I posted a link to my women’s circle, a lady from the group sarcastically delivered a long and repetitive rant in the comment box – unprovoked! She grumbled about how it’s unfair that the admin has been deleting her comments while I’m being allowed to ‘ruin the purpose of the group’ and just milk money from them.

Keep in mind, the circle costs a mere AUD$35 to provide support and bring about fun for the ladies in the group who would like to take it (so they may make an informed decision whether to join or not). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my first time encountering online bullying. However this one, I admit, blew my head and I had to lay down. I accepted the offer not only because I can promote my business to that group, but also because helping people in the relationship arena is my passion.

Little did she know that I am a mum who needs to feed her two kids, who cannot sustain my family life by offering only free services to everyone. She attacked not only me, but the group admin and another member who tried to defend me.

During occurrences like these, one can do three things as a response. You can either go to the group admin to report it, post something to explain yourself, or lastly – do absolutely nothing about it and block the person. This time, I chose the third option. She seemed to be the type of person who loves provoking arguments, or what we call an ‘ online troll’, so I left it. I was grateful that the admin and another member of the group were there to encourage her to see things from a different light, rather than just being plain rude and playing the bitter victim. Perhaps I ‘stole her thunder’ as a good contributor to the group. In the end she didn’t buy it, and even made the group admin apologize for deleting some of her earlier nasty comments.

My mental health has been under the weather recently due to physical problems and the lockdown. As a result, this did not help my situation at all. Despite this, I kept my head cool. Had I continued to react to this sort of thing, I would have wasted my time – because that type of person is only waiting for my outburst to pounce back at me. From this, I can honestly say that I am grateful to that lady, for giving me a good lesson in resilience in the online world.

I saw this as a great opportunity for me to talk with my eldest daughter and teach her about my experience. I told her that when she gets older (the time where she’ll have her own gadgets and accounts) the possibility of encountering bullies both online and offline is highly possible. If she ever experiences this in the future, she should not be afraid to open up to us, her parents. Too many young and adult lives have been lost because of online trolling. I believe we should do something about this, starting with our own household.

People will pick on you and knock you off your feet, however you need to remember to stand back up and keep going if you truly believe that what you are doing is correct, respectful of others, and it’s following your true path. They should not control your life, and how you live it. If you want to share the things you enjoy that are harmless, post it! If you want to make a living online, share it!

What happened to me was not and will never be a nice experience, however as a small business owner, if I don’t shamelessly market myself, I will be the best kept secret. That will not be good for potential clients that need my services, nor my own growth.

Keep well & lots of love,
Ingrid Galloway
Relationship Coach & Chief Relaxation Officer