Online Rejection Hurts!

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments


Online rejection hurts!


teen looking at smartphone has sad expression

The sting of rejection and shunning has risen to a whole new level using social media!

Social media provides many opportunities for connecting. But it also provides many opportunities for rejection using the many social media sites and apps available today. Rejection online can be done anonymously and can go viral quickly. It can be as simple as not receiving a Facebook like on a posted pic to seeing an image of a party that you weren’t invited to. Or maybe you were in a relationship and now you see your boyfriend or girlfriend’s status is single. That can really hurt.

We’ve all been rejected at some point. We’ve all found out that we weren’t invited to a party or other social event and it felt bad, didn’t it? It’s happened to me, it’s happened to all of us. Co-workers go to lunches without us, a Christmas card doesn’t arrive from a friend that previously sent one, and neighbors don’t invite us into their weekend ski group. Rejection is all around us. Rejection hurts because “it communicates the sense to somebody that they’re not loved or not wanted, or not in some way valued,” explains Geraldine Downey, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Columbia University.

People are naturally social animals. And most people want to be liked and to feel like they belong to a group. So when a person is rejected socially, that screams loudly that they aren’t liked and don’t belong.

How do people respond to rejection?

 Anger and Aggression

People that are rejected may be more angry and aggressive. People that are chronically rejected or ostracized are not surprisingly more severely impacted. “In 2001, the Surgeon General of the U.S. issued a report stating that rejection was a greater risk for adolescent violence than drugs, poverty, or gang membership.”


We also respond to rejection by blaming ourselves and attacking our self worth. This of course makes us feel even worse.

Feel Pain

Social rejection also activates the same area of the brain that is activated when we feel physical pain. This also happens when we witness someone else being rejected.

Ongoing social rejection can be harmful. Research says that for our ancestors, being cast out of the tribe was essentially a death sentence because they needed other members of their tribe to stay safe and to survive.  So being part of a group and being social is truly  part of our DNA.  Therefore it’s not surprising that  “current research on childhood bullying shows an impact years later in increased rates of depression, reduced employment and even higher crime.”

Social media rejection reaches a larger audience

Adults that were raised without social media knew alone when they weren’t invited to that neighborhood party; no one else knew, except maybe a few people at the party. Now with social media, that rejection is revealed to a much larger social world, which amplifies the hurt.

Others on the social media site may join in writing comments about the rejection which can begin a campaign of harassment. Online harassment is known as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can have devastating results because it’s so public. Sadly, public rejection can be so humiliating and painful that some tweens/teens feel so much emotional pain that they resort to taking their own lives.

What can kids do if they’re rejected online?

  • Help them understand how rejection affects us all. If they understand the science behind it and that yah, that social snub really does make us feel lousy… it may help them to get over it sooner.
  • Teach them to seek out healthy, positive connections with friends and family. Connecting with those who love us, or reaching out to members of groups to which we feel close to and who value and accept us can sooth the emotional pain from rejection.
  • Teach them to avoid people and situations that make them feel bad.
  • Block anyone that is perpetrating the online harassment.
  • Save the evidence of the online harassment in the event that it needs to be brought to the attention of school authorities or police.
  • Help them get involved in activities that make them feel good and positive about themselves. This could be an activity like piano, art, singing…
  • Have them get a job that may help to occupy their minds and earn some spending money. Being productive can make us feel better about ourselves.

Unfortunately, online rejection is a product of our times and our digital world. It’s going to happen… so let’s help our kids understand it when it happens, how to respond, and take steps to ease their very real pain.

It’s a good idea to check in and monitor your child, tween or teen’s computer activity so that you are aware of what’s going on in their digital world!  And as always make sure they know that you are checking in!


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