Exclusion and being excluded isn't a new phenomenon; it's been apparent since the internet became popular. Unfortunately, you can be excluded both in real life and online, and it's a highly effective tactic that can make you feel horrible and alone.
When someone leaves you out of a conversation or situation on purpose, or uninvites you to something, that's being excluded. Online, that can look like being left out of conversation threads, being removed from groups, or others purposely involving mutual friends in online events yet leaving you out.
By nature, people are social creatures, and when we're not included, it can hurt our feelings. Exclusion can also involve rejection, being ostracised, and bullying. So all of a sudden, you're dealing with a lot of really big feelings and emotions and don't necessarily know where to turn. And studies have shown that being excluded online can have just as big of an impact as real life.
So, what can you do if you're feeling excluded while you're on the Internet? Here are a few key points to keep in mind
Communicate your feelings and thoughts. It's best to talk to others and see if they're willing to talk to you about it. Focusing on specific situations and feelings can help direct the conversation in the right direction.
Avoid jumping to conclusions. While what you're feeling is entirely valid, there might be a reason for it. Have a good look at the situation.
Do something that makes you feel good. Take a step back and out of the situation and practise some self-care to calm you and uplift you. For example, cooking a nice meal, going for a walk or even watching your favourite movie can help give you some distance and reset your feelings.
Talk to a supportive person. Find someone you trust who can unpack the situation. They might not have many answers, but they might be able to give you a different opinion you haven't considered yet. This can be a friend, family member, counsellor, or a psychologist.
If you're being excluded from uni tasks or activities, speak to your teacher or unit coordinator. Sometimes, people just don't mesh well, but we have to find a way to work together. By talking to your teacher, they can intervene and find ways to have everyone work together.
If you or someone you know is at risk or immediate harm, call 000. If you are having thoughts about self-harm or suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
Cyberbullying Research Center. (2012). Social Exclusion and Bullying. https://cyberbullying.org/social-exclusion-and-bullying
Raypole, C. (2020). Feeling left out sucks – here's what you can do about it. https://www.healthline.com/health/feeling-left-out#remember-your-value