It’s Not Edgy to Be A Douche

So as per fairly usual in my life, I had a minor encounter with a Facebook troll this morning. The conversation ended when I called him out by saying “So you’re just being a troll and you don’t care who gets hurt as long as you’re entertained” and he liked my comment. Apparently he found it really cool to be someone who hurt others. He also felt the need to point out that he associated with people that I would apparently “be disgusted by”, and insist that he was highly empathetic and open minded.

These are the classic troll behaviors. More than anything they illustrate to me that trolls have a few assumptions in common:

1.They are not constrained by the same beliefs that others are constrained by.
2. They are rebellious or forward thinking because they refuse to believe what others believe.
3. They are better than others for not being bothered by mere things like “words”.
4. When it really comes down to it, they’re good people.
5. It’s fun to hurt people as long as it’s over things that “don’t matter” like words.
6. When you hurt people over “stupid” things, you’re really just helping them see an edgier or more free thinking way. You’re doing them all a favor.

Unfortunately most of these assumptions and beliefs are simply wrong. Sometimes when you refuse to believe what others believe, you’re just wrong. There is in fact nothing wrong or overly sensitive about being hurt by words. We as human beings have a drive for acceptance, and words are in fact a form of acting. There is nothing about being cruel with your words that is helping another person or enlightening them to their own idiocy.

I’m about to drop some crazy knowledge on you guys here, so brace yourselves: being mean is not edgy. Being mean is not new. Acting superior and gaslighting people? It’s pretty much the oldest trick in the book. I’m going to be real honest: being mean is just straight out boring. EVERYONE knows how to do it. People even do it all the time without meaning to. Most people probably spend the majority of their time being mean to someone.

In addition, just disagreeing with people doesn’t make you right. In fact disagreeing with a lot of people also does not make you right. Sometimes (I know this will be hard to believe) the majority does actually have the correct facts! There is nothing about disagreeing with other people that is inherently cool, edgy, forward thinking, or good.

You might think that you’re looking real damn good compared to those sissies who overreact. You might think you’re making a statement. You might think you’re more rational or reasonable. But here’s the honest truth: you just look like a douche. Not only that, but you often look pretentious, uninformed, rambling, and unintelligent.

All those little lies that you feed yourself to pretend that you’re coming out on top, that it’s survival of the fittest and you’re the one surviving, that it’s just a big game? You know they’re lies. You know that we are built to be social animals and that at this point in our history we’ve moved past viciously ripping each other to shreds in order to survive. You know that it’s just plain outdated and redundant to do that crap at this point.

So please trolls, just be honest with yourselves. You’re not doing any of this for good reasons or because you’re really a great person. You’re doing it because you like to be mean. The sooner you accept that the sooner we can all move on.

Live Blogging North Star NonProfits: Tweet Her? I Barely Know Her!

This post is a liveblog of a presentation by Cameron Bloom Kruger.

Social media exists alongside all other kinds of communication with our audiences, but we have to think about where our communications might overlap with the communications our audiences would like to use. We should aim for that sweet spot. Oftentimes, social media is that sweet spot, but we need to be strategic about which social media we’re using.

Social media is like real life only online. Social media is a conversation, and we need to strategically decide which conversations we want to be a part of and which conversations we have the time to effectively be a part of. Here are some analogies of the different types of conversations you might have on social media:

Facebook is a coffeeshop: you’re sitting and having a conversation, might tune out that you’re in public. Be personal and unique. Oftentimes it gives you a false sense of privacy. Intimate in public.

Twitter is a crowded bar: too many people all talking at once. You can yell if you want, but you don’t always want to do that.

LinkedIn is a networking event: you have your business card and you want to make connections. BUSINESS. This isn’t the place for being unique, it’s the place to get a job.

Google+ is a conference lunch. A circle of people mostly isolated from other conversations. If you want to break out and move to a different table you can, but most people won’t.

The Internet is Leaking: can these communications affect and break into real life? Absolutely social media affects our “real world” (a term I’m not wholly comfortable with because the interactions we have online are absolutely real). The feelings we have about a brand that appear online carry over into our in person interactions with that brand.

More often than not, the emotions associated with social media are negative (according to studies about people’s impressions of social media interactions). We see a lot of arguments, blocking, and discomfort from online conversations. The feeling seems to be that because there is a wall of technology, individuals can be more real, more raw and say things they wouldn’t say normally. Kruger seemed to indicate that this is a bad thing, and for branding it often is, however in a follow up post I’d like to address why this bald honesty can be a tool for good online.

Cautionary Tales: we could be driving conversations in positive ways. Here are some things not to do.

If content is fire, social media is gasoline.

One example is Adria Richards. We don’t always need to say exactly what we’re thinking on social media, and we need to be careful to think about the consequences once that gasoline fire gets started. Again, Kruger indicated that Richards’ behavior in this case was inappropriate because she could have handled the situation less publicly. I find this example unfortunate because there has been a lot of ink spilled over the gender politics of this particular incident, something I’ll touch on in a later post. Suffice it to say that social media often gives a voice to those who are rarely heard otherwise, and this may have been an example of that.

Don’t feed the trolls! Trolls: People who hide behind anonymity and try to get an emotional reaction. Essentially Kruger suggests that we shouldn’t feed the trolls. Don’t engage with those people who are ragging on you because it will inflame things. If you can capitalize on that negative attention, do it, otherwise don’t escalate the situation.

Jumping on the bandwagon: don’t do it. You don’t need to post about everything in the world that happens just because other people are posting about it, and you absolutely don’t need to try to capitalize on serious issues. If something relates to you, then post about it.

Sounding like a robot: Don’t respond to people with form letters. Be real. Actually listen to what they’re saying.

These things don’t move us forward. Start small, target a particular audience and engage with them narrowly.

3 Tips:

1.You are the brand. People want to talk to YOU not a logo.

2.Contribute more than you receive-put out good content and you’ll reap the benefits. Not just about you.

3.Learn to listen. Be a good conversationalist. Find out what people have said about you.

All of these tips are incredibly helpful, but I will say that there are some important differences between social media as an individual vs. social media as an organization, and that many of these tips have been fiercely debated when it comes to being an individual on the internet, particularly a woman or other minority person on the internet. Don’t feed the trolls is only the most infamous of these. When using social media as an individual who is representing an organization, it’s a hard balance to find, but it’s one that we should be thinking about with more nuance than “should” and “should not”.