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Internet trolls: feed them, ignore them, or embrace them?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The web is home to the best trolls in the world, and you’re going to come across them. Here are some proven ways to react.

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Internet trolls: good or bad

In the above video by the Idea Channel, Mike makes the argument for and against internet trolls, which we thought we would address with our own experiences. You’ve heard the phrase, “don’t feed the trolls,” but do they actually serve a purpose? Where does trolling end and harassment begin?

First, we should consider that the idea of anonymity is fading online, so trolling behavior is often associated with a real person and their real name, so some trolls have become quiet over the years, while others have willingly taken on trolling in public under their real names. That said, most people that troll under their names are not sending death threats, rather being argumentative, which should be embraced to avoid the echo chamber. But when someone threatens violence or insults in an effort to bully, harass, or hurt others, the usefulness of their behavior diminishes.

Personally, I have both fed, ignored, and embraced trolls, but it depends on their intentions. Let’s examine:

  • Feeding the trolls: I find myself giving trolls fodder with arguments that are not personal to me. Arguing over the merits of whether Twitter is valuable or not is not personal to me, and I don’t care if someone tells me I’m retarded (their words) for using Twitter. In this instance, I’m openly feeding the trolls and sometimes even provoking for fun. Consider it trolling the trolls. I’m okay with it, and they are too, and it’s kind of fun for all and we let off steam.
  • Ignoring the trolls: I get tagged in a lot of inappropriate stuff on Facebook and sometimes it’s funny, but other times, it is truly harmful to my reputation. Recently, someone posted an extremely racist photo and tagged me in it. I untagged myself and didn’t say anything, because with that particular troll, if I react, they’ll just get worse and start posting racist photos on my wall and so forth. I’ve found that in some instances, ignoring actually does make it go away, because they’re looking for a reaction. If they’re harassing my friends on my wall, I have to react (reprimand, unfollow, block, depending on the severity).
  • Embracing the trolls: you’re going to think I’m weird, but there are a few people I’ve met online through their trolling and I’ve actually become friends with them. Often, it’s political, and by not shutting out their opinion (although dripping with rude sarcasm and condescension), I have learned to see the bigger picture and I have honestly expanded my horizons and my thought patterns by being open to others’ opinions, even if they suck at delivering them.

And then, there is harassment

Trolling is one thing, harassment is another. Harassment can be a continued string of threats, or just one rude comment designed to hurt, but it is never called for, and never acceptable.

I once posted on Facebook a story about the declining number of death penalty cases in America, and I didn’t opine as to whether I thought that was good or not, but someone made an assumption. They began commenting that I was the reason crime in America is on the rise. I disagreed. They commented that I was a bad Republican. I asserted that I’m an Independent voter, and while I tend to be more conservative, I don’t believe in a correlation between taking the death penalty off of the table and increased crime.

So far, so good, right? Civil-ish discourse.

Then, he said that my inability to reason is why God killed our son.

…what?

Because I posted a news story from CNN in 2013 about death penalty cases, I deserved to have a stillborn son in 2004? He could have called me a moron and moved on, but he had to cross the line.

When people behave as such, it doesn’t further any conversation, expand any minds, or help anyone to see a bigger picture, it is only designed to make the troll feel better about themselves through abuse. I’ve never received any death threats, but I have been stalked, I’ve been harassed, and demeaned on a regular basis, and while much of it I ignore, there is literally no use for hurtful insults.

Tell us in the comments about a time that you were the victim of an internet troll who went too far.

Further reading

As Mike mentioned in the video, there is more reading and viewing on this topic:

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tinu

    January 24, 2014 at 1:15 am

    If they are true trolls, it’s highly unlikely that I will feed or embrace them. It’s more of an issue of bandwidth than anything else. Each little hole of unproductive time sucks a piece of my soul and sometimes money I could have earned, with it.

    But when people approach me with a controversial view that they actually want to debate, and not just call names or waste my time, if there’s the possibility that one of us may actually influence the other’s point of view, I engage. I’ve had online conversations with would-be racists, guys who were (mostly) pretending to be sexist to get attention,

    The comment that guy made about why you lost your son – the line he crosses is way in his rear view… that’s way over the line and it’s awful that this happened to you.

  2. Pingback: No worries trolls! Judge rules that a politicians can't ban you on socials - The American Genius

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Social Media

How to quickly make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the masses

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Most of us have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn, but no matter your feelings, you should be the one who stands out in a crowd – here’s how.

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linkedin

Your LinkedIn is your brand. That’s it. Whether you are job hunting (or people are hunting you), or are showing off your business, insight, acumen, or simply networking; your profile on LinkedIn needs to stay appealing and not drive potential headhunters, bosses, clients, or networking groups bananas.

Let’s start with a three part list of what you MUST do, what you SHOULD do, and what you COULD do.

Here’s what you MUST DO (as in, do it now).

  1. Get a #GREAT LinkedIn photo. Nothing sells you like the right profile picture. No selfies. No mountain biking. Get a professional headshot. Don’t lie about your age. Wear what you wear when you’re on the job. Smile. People are visual.
  2. Simplify your profile. Cut the buzzwords. Cut out excess skills that don’t add to your vision or that don’t represent the kind of job you want. (i.e. most of us can use Outlook but few of us need to mention that skill because we don’t support Outlook). Focus on the skills that are important.
  3. Keep it current. Your LinkedIn should reflect your career and current responsibilities. Update the description. Add new projects. Change your groups as you change in your career and move towards new levels. Indicate when you receive a promotion.
  4. Extra, Extra! Headlines. Don’t use something lame for your headline. How would you want to catch a headhunter to look at you if you could only say 10 words? Make it standout. There are thousands of managers – but only one you.
  5. Custom URL. Just do it. Pick your own URL. It’s FREEEEEEE.
  6. Get the app. Make LinkedIn a part of your mobile life and check it more often than you do Snapchat.

Here’s what you SHOULD DO (Set aside some time at Starbucks and go do this in the next month).

  1. Tell your story. Your summary should bring to live the content of your career. Don’t leave that section blank. Spend some time crafting a cool story. Run it by your professional mentor. Send it to your English major friends.
  2. Connect. Add colleagues. Add partners from other organizations. Use connections to broaden your network. Synch your profile with your address book. Add people after a conference.
  3. Endorse your connections. Identify people you’ve worked with and give them the endorsements – which can get them to come endorse you!
  4. Ask for recommendations. Ask a colleague, partner, or manager to write you a recommendation to help advertise your skills.
  5. Add a nice cover photo. Again, visual people. Some more on that here.

Here’s what you COULD DO (If you’re feeling dedicated, what you can do to give yourself an extra edge.)

  1. Share your media. Upload presentations, videos, speeches, or projects that you can share. (Don’t violate company policy though!).
  2. Publish original content. LinkedIn has a vibrant publishing feature and sharing your original work (or content you’ve published elsewhere) is a great way to share your voice.
  3. Post status updates. Share your reactions. Share articles. Repost from influencers. Be active and keep your feed vibrant.

That’s a quick list to get started. So go start your LinkedIn makeover (and I’ll go do the same). Let’s get connected!

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Social Media

You’re tired of Twitter because you’re no longer their average demographic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter was once a gathering place for industry professionals, but if you’re finding yourself drifting away, you’re not alone – the average demographic has changed. A lot.

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Each major social media platform has a tendency to draw a particular demographic, giving each individual platform a distinct tinge or feel. However, research shows that the demographics of Twitter may make it the most unique and youthful social media platform yet.

Perhaps the most notable aspect that sets Twitter apart is its content generation. While Twitter has approximately 126 million daily users, only around 10 percent of those users tweet with any reliable frequency. Surprisingly, that 10 percent user base is responsible for curating around 80 percent of the content on Twitter, giving a shockingly small group of people control over the bulk of Twitter’s output.

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time on Twitter probably won’t find this revelation entirely illuminating; after all, most of what you see on Twitter generally looks like a slightly different iteration of something that someone else said on Twitter. Even so, the significance of such a large percentage of Twitter’s content coming from such a small group cannot be discounted.

In another shake-up, Twitter users as a collective also tend to be younger than other social media users.

Again, you’ll usually see this openly reflected in both the tone and persuasion of the content posted there, but the objective youthfulness of Twitter does explain some of the criticism levied toward its users by other social media aficionados.

While these two main points seem relatively benign, not everyone agrees with Twitter’s eclectic nature. Twitter’s distinguishing factors have led some, to label it as a “collective hallucination” of a platform, meaning that its demographic data, content themes, and aggregate of information all combine to create a different picture of America than is actually correct; naturally, the democratic-leaning persuasion of Twitter doesn’t help correct this assumption.

But what sticks out to some publications as a pipe dream of a demographic is, in fact, fairly accurate to America’s example insofar as race and gender ratio is concerned — even though Twitter may not embody the politically diverse “melting pot” of America’s government or emulate its education statistics.

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Social Media

Big backlash after woman tries to shame McD worker for napping

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This might be my favorite story of the year – a woman calls out a napping employee, and the community rejects her tweet, then rallies behind the employee to help improve his life.

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mcdonald's employee shamed for napping

Social media originated as a form of communication to stay in touch with people that you don’t see every day. From there, it blossomed into a community of idea-sharing and a source for news.

As social media grew more popular, the dark side began to rear its ugly head and people began using it as a method of attacking people from behind their keyboards. So much of social media has become negative that it’s hard to want to stay active.

Such was the case when a woman in Fayette County, Georgia shared a photo of a McDonald’s worker asleep in the booth. She posted the photo to social media in haste, in an attempt to shame the McDonald’s location for not doing anything about the employee’s behavior.

What she didn’t realize was that the employee – Simon Childs – was homeless and was simply resting between shifts.

The 21-year old father recently fell into hard times after his mother passed away, and found himself without a residence, but with a job at McDonald’s. When he found out about what the woman posted, Childs was disappointed by her actions.

“It kind of hurt to see my picture up there, you know,” he told WSB in Atlanta. “I thought it was something negative and nobody would care about it.”

The woman’s photo received a lot of attention on social media, but not in the way that she had intended. Local community members near Childs learned of his story and rejected the shaming. They began donating items to help with his child. Others donated hotel rooms, while a local restauranteur loaned Childs his car.

The nameless woman who posted the photo reportedly claims that she didn’t intend to shame Childs, especially since the image was only posted to a private group. However, we all know that it only takes one screenshot to make something “private” known to the whole entire world.

This shows us a few timeless lessons: Nothing on social media or the Internet is private, karma works in mysterious ways, and never make assumptions about anyone as you never know what is going on in their world.

That’s my morals and values lesson for the day. Class dismissed.

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