There’s A Lot Of “Mean” On Social Media

There are a lot of great relationships that can be made via social media. I have met people from all over the world who I can talk to at any time and have great conversations with. It’s always possible that I could potentially do work with some of them, and I have hired people from other countries here and there to handle some of the small things with either a website or blog that I wasn’t in the mood to do or didn’t have the time for.

223/365 - HEY MAN! That's not cool.... (Explored)
Courtney Carmody
via Compfight

As with anything in this world, there’s a whole lot of mean people also. Sometimes, the mean people are actually pretty nice most of the time, and then suddenly out of nowhere they look like they’ve just lost their minds for one reason or another.

Unfortunately, you don’t always know what will trigger someone into being mean. Over the years, I’ve had people show their mean streak on things I’ve posted that should have had nothing to do with them. Other times they internalize something you’re written as though you’re talking personally about them. If you saw them every day and wrote something that might make sense. But I’ve had people get mad at me when I’ve written commentary about parenting without knowing that they might be parents.

You know what? Sometimes the truth hurts, yet we all need to be ready to deal with the truth. A few weeks ago I posted something on Facebook that looked like a case of racism that occurred in Arizona. One person, who didn’t live in Arizona and had no reason to comment at all, decided it was racist of me to post such a thing without knowing all the details. The argument made no sense whatsoever because I hadn’t made any commentary on it, though I certainly could have, and whatever her trigger was prompted her to need to comment on it; no idea why.

Then there’s a guy I’m connected with on Facebook who’s kind of a passionate person. Every once in a while he gets something in his head that just consumes him and he starts writing in caps to make his point. That’s known as flaming in the online world, and it’s frowned upon almost everywhere you go. I finally asked him why he did that because it made him look like he’d lost control, wouldn’t ever make me see things his way because of the delivery, and that he needed to learn how to calm down because almost nothing in this world is that serious.

Why am I mentioning all of this? I always advocate that almost every business should have an online presence. I say that social media can bring both joy and business. I also have stated that one needs to be careful in how they say certain things if they decide to be controversial; if you dish it out you have to be ready to take it.

Don't be mean
Guillaume Maciel via Compfight

Yet, sometimes you can put up something relatively innocuous that gets negative attention by someone, even if it’s something positive. When that happens you have some choices to make, and some of those choices are better or worse than others.

You can decide you don’t want to be on social media anymore and go away; that’s never good.

You can decide to fight every single person who disagrees with a position of yours. Sometimes you have to do it, but other times you can ignore those people.

You can decide to make sure you never say anything to upset someone. The problems with that are one, you never know what will trigger someone, and two, if you go out of your way too much your online presence is going to be boring; no one will want to read anything you have to say.

You can decide to call this person out, bash them on your blog and throughout social media, post copies of everything you can find on them and try to ruin their lives. You might succeed but you’ll also fail because people will know if you can do that to one person you can do it to anyone, including them.

You can act like it never happened and continue doing what you’ve been doing. Sometimes this is the way to go, but as I said above, you might have to take some kind of stand or even think about deleting comments and such, and then deal with that as an issue.

Overall, there’s only one right answer, and it ties in to all of the above. You always should take some time to think about your response before making it. I’ll admit I’m not always good with this, but I’m good at least 95% of the time.

You shouldn’t make too fast of a decision unless you were prepared for someone to dislike what you had to say, but you also shouldn’t wait too long to respond. Whether you know it or not people are watching; if it can affect business in any way making the best choice possible needs thought behind it.

Are you scared? Don’t be. Sure, bad things can happen, but for the most part if your goals are pure, you’ll be just fine.

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8 thoughts on “There’s A Lot Of “Mean” On Social Media”

  1. Great article on a potentially tricky subject. It is important not to offend anyone, especially if you are a small growing business as it could result in a PR disaster. Nice to read your perspective on this Mitch

  2. It is a tricky thing. One wants to stay on everyone’s good side though that is never possible right? I learned a while back to ‘never feed the trolls’. I have started to just keep my head down at work because there is this one guy who will argu everything. And I mean everything. He is a religious guy, or at least he claims to be, so one day I was feeling fiesty and stated there is never a bad time to read the bible. He actually argued that there is!
    It is easy for people to be a-holes when hiding behind a fake name on the Interwebs.
    Troy S. recently posted..Will racism in America ever end? Sadly, probably not.My Profile

  3. I say that all the time Troy; that’s why I hate fake names. I call out our local newspaper on this issue but they counter that some sites actually require real names and trolls still come out. However, it almost never happens in local news because people are more worried about who might see it so they temper themselves a lot.

    I think it’s not such a good thing to intentionally antagonize individuals. I also think that if you have something to stand for you should stand for it, no matter what happens, as long as your words aren’t inflammatory. For me, there’s still people who I respected before the 2008 elections when they were saying stuff I considered racist about Barack Obama at the time and I’ve never forgiven them for it; some of them are big names online.

    If you’re willing to risk your business and reputation like that, then go for it. But some folks, like me, have long memories.

  4. I don’t deliberately set out to offend anyone in my posts or responses to comments and I rarely come across anyone who gets offended. If that happens however, I will readily apologise and make whatever amends I can make. But, if I deliberately set out to offend, why would I worry about the aftemath?
    Rummuser recently posted..Call Me Mister.My Profile

    1. Ramana, you’ve always found a way to deal with those couple of times when people went nuts on your blog; intention means a lot but you know how some people are.

      However, some folks are mean because they think they can get away with it. However, recently some guy was baiting one of those MMA fighters via Twitter. The guy lost his temper and put it out there that if anyone could get any information on where this guy lived he’d appreciate it. Since more people liked the fighter than this guy it didn’t take all that long. He announced his intention to go to the guy’s house; suddenly his tone changed. Still, the fighter went to the guy’s house, with a photographer to take pictures proving he did it. Of course the guy apologized, then shut down his account, and when the fighter got to his house no one answered the door. The photographer took a picture of the house and the number and posted it on Twitter and that was that.

      That’s why some of those folks need to watch who they’re offending. I kind of did it once back in the 90’s; I found the guy, mentioned his city and that he was a college student and posted his last name; it was the last time he bothered me. That’s why it’s always better to be nice. 🙂

  5. Mitch,

    Social Media can be an interesting place. Disagreements can get started over almost nothing.

    Like you said you never know what will set someone off. They may not even read what you wrote the way you meant it.

    Those are the things that I do not like about Social Media.

    Social Media is a great platform to promote yourself and your business or blog or both. I guess the price we pay for using Social Media to promote is putting up with issues like you described in your post.

    I am sure if you spend much time at all on Social Media you will come across situations like yours. It is just something you have to handle in the best way you can.

    Great post on a really difficult problem.

    Dee Ann Rice
    DeeAnn Rice recently posted..Keys To A Successful BlogMy Profile

    1. Thanks Dee Ann. I’m lucky that I haven’t encountered this issue all that often but it happens. However, hearing about it scares away lots of people from getting on social media or even writing a blog, and I’m of the opinion that if one can’t figure out how to deal with the meanness of it all that they probably shouldn’t be on at all. Not that we have to like it; I certainly don’t like it. But I can block, erase, and basically keep “ugly” out of my online life with just a little bit of effort. That’s not such a heavy price to pay, right?

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