5 Social Media Truths

Published on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 By Brad Wardell In Personal Computing

Being involved in gaming communities means dealing with a lot of drama.  The most common problem I observe are people who have no capacity for empathy.  It never occurs to them what someone might do back at them.

Here are a few truths I've come to recognize:

  1. If you attack someone's livelihood, don't be surprised if someone returns the favor.
  2. You have no right to anonymity. People should respect your privacy but don't confuse respect with rights.
  3. Do not assume that you can attack the "Bigger person" with impunity. There is no rule that states that your target won't punch down in response.
  4. If you dance around a dumpster fire along enough, you will get burned.
  5. Don't apply rules to others that you do not keep yourself.

For me, these 5 rules have been a survival guide over the past three decades I've been online.  As I once explained to a colleague, you cannot infinitely absorb abuse from people and stay balanced.  You have to either redirect it harmlessly or failing that, make sure the perpetrator is given a figurative knock with a rolled up newspaper.

The counter-response, the one I've heard decade after decade usually involves "you have to ignore them".  That sort of response only comes from people who have never been the subject of social media mob justice or someone dedicated to your personal, real-life, destruction. 

One example of someone who got a harsh lesson was a friend of my wife who heard me complain about the review bombing of my book.  Mind you, this book was released in 2010, long before there was any awareness of the concept of "Social Justice Warriors".  In brief, a handful of people from a particular political forum wanted to make sure my "vile" (i.e. libertarian-like) political opinions resulted in me paying a price in real life.  Sound familiar?

Now, back in those days, I was still firmly in the "don't dignify with response, ignore it" camp that our PR people always insisted on.  So I just took it and complained to my wife and her friend.  She insisted that I just had to grow a thicker skin and proceeded to write a glowingly positive review that quickly resulted in the dogpilers to turn on her.  She became incredibly upset and raged "My family can see these comments about me!" and proceeded to delete her review.  Doing so, incidentally, resulted in a long-running myth that my wife reviews our stuff. 

But the point was made: It's easy give advice that amounts to "ignore the haters" but it's another thing to actually be on the receiving end of it. Which is why I live by those 5 rules.