Emotional Terrorism: Narcissists Who Gaslight and Torment You on Social Media

Written by Angela Atkinson

So often, I hear from viewers, readers and my coaching clients that they’re being bullied online by a narcissist – usually, one they’ve been personally involved with.

In those cases, narcissists will do everything from attempting to use social media to publicly and personally humiliate their victims to generally spreading rumors and lies about them – and then some.

For example, when a victim goes no-contact with a toxic narcissist, he or she may first put on a really good “poor me” show for his/her connections. They may ask for advice – “how do I deal with this crazy person” – or they may flat-out make false claims about their target to the world.

So why is this such an effective way to continue to abuse their victims?

In addition to the fact that it often connects to literally everyone you know, social media bullying can be the ultimate platform for life-destroying passive-aggressive behavior – and we all know that’s a narcissist’s comfort zone.

We have so much technology now that’s supposed to streamline our lives and make it easier to connect with the people that we care about.

It’s supposed to make it easier to do business and make good things happen for our careers. But strangely, the technology that was supposed to be the key to our happiness, comfort and success has the potential to backfire.

Instead of helping, especially in toxic situations, the use of technology has led many people to deeper levels of stress, feelings of discontentment and lives so busy that they’re hardly living at all.

Toxic Abuse in the “Virtual”

Often, a narcissist will lash out at a victim through social media – and this may happen either during the relationship or after its over.

They (or their flying monkeys – aka enablers) will spread gossip, harrass you, blow up your PMs or even post publicly on your page – or theirs – to let everyone know how “terrible” you are.

This, like every kind of narcissistic abuse, serves a couple of purposes.

First, people who aren’t clued into the situation will offer the narc sympathy and say nasty things to or about his/her target. This gives the narc some good “supply,” and also helps him/her to accomplish their goal of making you look crazy (hello gaslighting!).

Essentiallly, a toxic narcissist will use social media to target his or her various sources of supply (and/or anyone who makes him/her feel bad about themselves). This might include ex-spouses, ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, current partner, new wife or girlfriend of an ex, colleagues, friends and even people the narcissist never met. I’ve personally had this one happen quite often, doing what I do, as I’m sure you can imagine.

In addition to basically anyone who makes a narc feel bad about him/herself and her behavior, the narcissist may target anyone who gets in their way and/or anyone they fear will expose their true nature.

Many narcissists (not to mention histrionics, borderlines and other self-obsessed, abusive personality types) use Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and other platforms to run smear campaigns, make false allegations abput their targets – and more.

Others will go so as as to use social media to perpetrate parent/child alienation (especially with divorced and/or step-parent situations) and to stalk and harass their targets while simultaneously portraying themselves as the much maligned victim, superman/woman and/or mother/father of the year.

Let’s talk about emotional terrorism.

Since a lot of narcissists are especially gifted when it comes to finding your sensitive issues – the little “sore spots” we all have – they intuitively use social media to lash out at or attack their victims.

They’ll hurt people without a second thought, and they’ll do it while making themselves look like the injured party – it’s narcissistic injury on crack.

Of course they use this platform to push people around and down – and raise themselves up. They need to have power over other people, and they’ll stop at nothing to get what they want.

Listen, these aren’t new behaviors for narcissists in general – it just allows them to reach a bigger audience. It’s the whole smear campaign thing times a million.

So how do you deal?

You start by not getting involved. If you see it happen, immediately block the narcissist so they don’t have access to your profile and can’t tag you in their drama.

Even though it’s complete bullshit, you have to stand firm by not getting involved. If you DO fire back publicly through social media, the narcissist will only use it to cement his/her case – “see, I told you she/he was crazy!”

Even if you’re just an online bystander to someone else’s drama, if you experience that, your mind will register the same type of anxious response as if you had been involved and your feelings will follow the lead of your thoughts.

When you see how wonderful someone else’s life appears to be online, it can lead you to become discontent and irritable. It can make you focus on the negative instead of looking at the positive.

Awareness of Your Thoughts is Key

Online interaction can also make you feed yourself negative self talk – especially when you see others who are better looking, richer, have nicer homes, easier looking lives and appear to be having more fun.

Not only will you feel bad about yourself, but your stress level will go up. When you practice mindfulness in associating with your technology use, you’ll discover that your happiness level will increase.

You can do this by setting limits on when you’ll be online and how much time you’ll spend online. Refuse to keep your cellphone with you 24/7. When you are on social media or online, find ways to use it to do something positive such as encourage someone else.

Let go of the things online that are irrelevant to your life or that make your negativity or stress level rise. When you do go online, make sure that you have a defined purpose and a time limit and stick to that.

So, if you’re there right now, or if you’ve been there before, tell me about your experiences. How did you deal? What tips would you offer another survivor in the same situation?

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