12 Most Important Reasons I Don’t Bash People Online

12 Most Important Reasons I Don’t Bash People Online

It’s been brought to my attention recently that I can sometimes seem touchy when people get into heated arguments in the online world. Ehem. Well, I may be touchy, but I also think that there is a lot more strife and ill will floating about the interwebs than there was even 6 months ago. If I do get touchy, it’s because I feel that the disintegration of civility makes all parties look bad, and when I see good people looking bad, it makes me feel bad, and gosh darn it, I don’t like to feel bad!

OK, I feel better. Anyway, I thought I would explain why I avoid what I will call online people bashing (some may call it stiff criticism). These are just the thoughts that float about in my head. Maybe they will resonate with you, or maybe you will roundly criticize me!

A quick definition of bashing as I’m using it here, by the way – some may call it “calling someone out” or otherwise noting that a person or their tendencies are suspect, stinky, crappy, snobbish, or some other adjective that is generally negative in connotation. All based on perspective, but of course. OK, here we go. Why I don’t do any of that in the online world.

1. The situation almost always disintegrates

This is sad but true. I would say that in 9 cases out of 10, even if the blogger or tweeter is cautious and careful, the conversation will spiral downwards into unpleasantness. Granted, there are some accusations that can’t really be handled delicately, but the best of intentions may lie behind them. In any event, these days it seems that calling one person out is really like calling an entire army of people out. Teams are developing and one punch can lead to all of the dugouts emptying. That creates a lot of ick. No thanks!

2. I want you to feel comfortable doing business with me

I predominantly use my Social Media presence as an extension of my profession. Because I’m in a service industry (yes, marketing is a service industry) I want anyone who sees my online content to feel like they could work with me without any regrets. If I’m posting or tweeting about how much this person stinks and that person is crappy, will I be inviting people to work with me? I’m thinking not. Debbie Downer is not a good approach in the business world, nor is Freddie Fighter.

3. The person doing the calling out ends up looking bad

When you’re in the thick of things, this can be hard to remember, but it’s really true. If you are calling someone out, even if you have a 100% legitimate reason to do so, it makes you look bad. People will read your tonality, your perspective perhaps, your word choice, and they will think, “Man, that person must have a vendetta against that other person.” They may think you don’t have patience. They may think you’re short-tempered. In any case, it won’t paint you in the most positive light possible.

4. People can take it too far

I’ve seen this a lot lately. A little online squabble devolves into very serious, very ugly attacks that go well beyond the framework of the initial conversation. Even if you are a fan of a little discord, these situations are always painful to watch, and I think a lot of people come away from these experiences with genuinely hurt feelings and bad sentiments about the online world in general.

5. It’s never just about one person

As I mentioned above, calling out 1 person is not really just calling out 1 person. If you call out someone, their friends will lambaste you in your comments section or on Twitter or wherever it’s going on. Then your friends will come in and defend your honor. It’s another case where I think the intentions all start out in the best way possible, but again, once the dugouts are cleared, you’ve got a much harder time cleaning up the mess.

6. Your intentions may well be questioned

Sometimes, it seems likely that a person is calling someone out just to get a bump in traffic or to get more attention. The unfortunate thing is that this tactic often works. This means that even if you have a legitimate bone to pick, people new to the situation may skim the surface and say, “Ah, ok, this person is after traffic or link bait.” While authenticity and transparency are tired buzzwords in the online world, the fact remains that most people will jump to conclusions. This conclusion is a rather easy one to jump to.

7. Collateral damage

The thing I hate most about when OTHER people call out folks is that I often find myself torn between the two sides. I mean, hey, I like to like everyone! While it can be cathartic and healthy for people to talk it out, as it were, in the online world it feels increasingly like you need to pick a side. I don’t like to be cornered that way, so I certainly don’t want to put anyone else in that situation. I don’t want to make you feel like you have to choose between me and someone else you like or respect. That’s not fair to you.

8. I want to keep the doors of discussion open

This may result in a circular argument, because I know that a lot of people feel like disagreement is as open as the doors can get. I would agree with that to a point, but when personal insults start flying and punches are landing below the belt, that’s when the door feels like it’s closing, at least to me. In the online world, I want people to feel like they can critique what I’m doing (with civility hopefully) and disagree with me (with civility hopefully) without me writing a post 5 days later about how dumb they are. Whenever I see a call-out post the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I.” How do I know you won’t be calling me out next? I don’t want people to feel like they have to walk on eggshells when they tweet me or visit my blog site.

9. There are more productive ways to spend one’s time

Honestly, I don’t really have the time to dedicate to a crap storm. I don’t know how other people do it. These posts tend to get comments for days and days. Hundreds of comments, sometimes. And so much of it is sludge and negative. Yuck! I’d rather be kind of boring and get along with people rather than spend my time in the Bog of Eternal Stench. Just a personal decision on my part.

10. I don’t think it’s what my readers want

Do you ever scan blog sites and say to yourself, “Boy, I hope someone is creating the virtual equivalent to a fist fight today!”? I know I don’t. I visit blogs because I want to learn and converse. I tweet with people for the same reason. I don’t think my readers visit my blog site so they can watch me lay waste to someone else. I think they want to talk about how we can use Social Media in new and exciting ways or how you can get through the tough first month on Twitter. Isn’t that what your readers are looking for, too? This reader is looking for that anyway…

11. It’s more pleasant to build people up

On occasion, I’ve had the itch to write one of those “I’m calling you out” posts. Hey, I’m human. People tick me off sometimes, right? But you know what, when I get that itch, I scratch it by writing a post to build someone up. I might do one of my “Good people doing good things” posts, or maybe I’ll tweet out how awesome a person is doing with their growing online presence. It makes me feel better, I’m fairly certain it makes the people involved feel good, and there’s no bitter aftertaste. Yay!

12. In the end, the love you give is equal to the love you take

The online world is very interesting in that it really does reflect back to you what you send out. If you are all bitterness and snark, guess what you will get back in droves? Yep, bitterness and snark. If you are supportive and helpful, guess what you will get back? Predominantly, support and help. Now there are some people who thrive on strife, and I get that. If that’s you, bashing people makes perfect sense. But if that’s not your preferred means of getting along in the online world, you don’t want to dish it out. It will come back to bite your butt. I can literally guarantee it.

Again, these are just my opinions and thoughts as I sign into my various accounts online. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m not saying this is the better way to go. But from my perspective, this is what I prefer. I know it may be deemed boring. I know at times I may seem touchy. But really, I just want you to put your best foot forward, and I want to try to keep putting my best foot forward. You are what you write. You are your words.

What do you think?

Photo courtesy of iansand. Some rights reserved; used under creative commons license.

Margie Clayman

http://www.margieclayman.com/

Marjorie Clayman (@margieclayman) is the Director of Client Development at her family's 58-year-old marketing firm, Clayman Advertising, Inc. Margie is the resident blogger at www.margieclayman.com and is the resident librarian at www.thebloglibrary.com. Margie's writing has been featured on pushingsocial.com, problogger.net, convinceandconvert.com, and dannybrown.me. Margie has recently published an e-book called The ABC’s of Marketing Myths. Margie is still not used to talking about herself in the third person but is working on it.

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69 comments
oliviamarie88131
oliviamarie88131

I've seen this online with people calling out one or a "certain" group of people and I have addressed it all four times I have seen it come up on my newsfeed on Facebook. I strongly disagree with writing anything negative about yourself, someone else, a certain group of people, or a ambiguous group of people... I am a pretty tolerant person but when others put people down or try to hinder a person or persons for their own personal gain with no actual proof or support to back up their stance other than their own personal emotion then that is a serious issue. 

gmj2013
gmj2013

Repost.

 

What do I think? I think I needed this article before I even opened my first e-mail account years ago. It's tempting to "take the bait" when it comes to misinformation or over-the-top, hyper-critical remarks. At the same time, one only hurts their own credibility by responding to those remarks, even if it's hurtful. Nice article.

gmj2013
gmj2013

What do I think? I think I needed this article before I even opened my first e-mail accoung

MargieClayman
MargieClayman

@NEMultimedia going for the big guns, eh? :) you rock :)

JosephGier
JosephGier

The biggest reason you dont bash someone is that it is not civil or polite. The same reason you do not argue with a fool; those around you might not be able to tell the differnce between you and the fool. be civil. be neutral if you cannot be nice because when all is said and done it will eventually backfire on you in ways you will never expect or anticipate.

sayahillman
sayahillman

Yes yes and yes!

I just had my first experience with someone saying not so nice things on my blog - http://macncheeseproductions.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/that-bith-stole-my-business-idea-how-im-going-to-get-her-back/

First reaction, to fight back! Defend my honor!

Well no, first reaction was to delete the comment. But then I thought, the point of a blog is to be public, to be out there, to engage with others. And so I left it and was about to compose some snarky reply.

But then I realized exactly what you pointed out -- it would spiral out of control, go nowhere, and for what? I'd much rather spend my time doing almost anything else. What do I care about this one person's opinion?

Thanks for the post Margie, great food for thought.

CharPennyAnn
CharPennyAnn

I'm uncomfortable even reading some of the "cat fights" that show up on-line! It really just spot lights how unprofessional they are, which leads to your reason #2 for not participating in the bashing. Nice post.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

This really a great list Margie, I cosign the whole thing. Like anyone, I've been swept up in a few debates but don't care for conflict. I'll voice my opposition or criticism of a tactic, a practice.. but not sling insults at the people who use them, not name names or ding a person. Injustices should be righted, wrongs corrected and there are ways to go about it without bashing someone else. Tacking on to #9.. it's not professional, it's not me and at the end of the day, I'm really not sure it accomplishes anything for me or my readers. FWIW.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

This is a great post Margie. Great rules for businesses and brands too. It is easy for a Brand to be called out via Social Media and easy for someone from the Brand to react the wrong way. Obviously if you work Twitter or Facebook for a big company you aren't the one who pissed people off, just the one who has to take their anger.

I have Nestle on my website (I need to update with a new instance) as an example of what happens when you react wrong via Social. I also feel because of the platform everyone feels so amplified and that is why things escalate. Funny that we are actually a lot less amplified than we feel when we tweet or comment on blogs, articles etc.

cate_gleason
cate_gleason

Well said! Thank you for writing what needed to be written. And for the sly Beatles reference.

TobeyDeys
TobeyDeys

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~ peace

bizfitnessguru
bizfitnessguru

Here's my primary reason: it just feels yucky. Unless I'm exposing something criminal, I don't get joy out of bashing others in any situation, online or off. I'm not a blessing when I'm doing that...and all your reasons are good ones not to cause others harm. It tends to come back to bite you in the butt.

PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick moderator

Always right on the mark Margie! Love #12 "the love you give is equal to the love you take." Appreciate this post & YOU!
Peggy

chattyprof
chattyprof

I am going to tweet this for my college students, who tend to use class discussion forums as a place to do some, shall we say, "interesting communicating". I really appreciated having such succinct and important advice to share. Ellen Bremen, M.A. @chattyprof

NancyD68
NancyD68

I love this list Margie - another reason is I don't want to say something I can't take back. I have learned that if I am that angry, to call someone, have a Skype chat with a friend, but do not blog about them. I can blog about the situation without naming names and attack the situation not the person.

We all have bad days, and do we really want to spend our online time playing defense? Just a thought.

Sonia (Sunnnee)
Sonia (Sunnnee)

Nicely done Margie! Wolves always hunt in packs, but never alone or they too will be hunted. Some people are just plain miserable and love to spread their negative energy otherwise why do it? Then again, the ones that do this feel safe typing it behind their computer in the safety of their own home, but would they actually say it in person? I seriously doubt it.

People that have nothing nice to say, are only talking about themselves. You are what you put out into this world.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

This is why I advocate attacking ideas and not people. Attacking people is just wrong. We don't know what it's like to walk in their shoes. Online we make A LOT of assumptions based on 140 bites of information. If you can attack the idea, without attacking the person, I say go for it. But be careful you don't cross the line.

TrafficColeman
TrafficColeman

For one things will come back on you, and this is not how you want things to go down.

"Black Seo Guy "Signing Off"

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV

I can also validate this about you. Even your mean DM's really aren't that mean. I think that is why everyone likes you so much. Or at least Me :)

Latest blog post: Spinning to Survive

New England Multimedia
New England Multimedia

Margie, you are my kind of people! Love this post so much, I'm sharing it everywhere. You know what bashing people online (and off) does? It lowers the bar for all of us. And every time that bar drops another rung, we ALL have to guard even more against becoming bashers ourselves. Meanness spreads like a virus, have you noticed? My Mama always said, "God don't like ugly." And neither do I! This reminds me of a comment left by @dagicueppers on @markwschaefer 's blog recently, where she outlined her checklist for what she shares online. Maybe she'll share it here.

NEMultimedia
NEMultimedia

@MargieClayman Just really needed in that moment. I hope they read it.

oliviamarie88131
oliviamarie88131

@JosephGier I agree, I also find it so funny that people do not realize that once it is put online it is there forever! Even if you delete that post... The people saying negative things about someone else only shows a lack of character on their part... it back fires

prosperitygal
prosperitygal

@Sonia (Sunnnee) I totally agree, having been on the receiving end of a wolve pack I learned to build a fire. For me that means to go within to source and know that I am tapping into a strength that allows me to let the "wolve pack" move on as I sit by my fire in silence breathing in peace and serenity

margieclayman
margieclayman

@ginidietrich Absolutely, Gini! But as you and I have discussed, I'm not sure that's possible even because there *has* been so much bashing in the online world. People are ready to put their fists up assuming that your disagreement is really about them on a personal level - and that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, unfortunately.

margieclayman
margieclayman

@JosephGier Thanks so much, Joseph. I agree - the art of debate or civil conversing seems to be disappearing the more time we spend online. People can just send stuff out into the universe...and they do. But there are real people out there reading it, with real feelings and other gooey human traits. You need to remember that at all times.

DagiCueppers
DagiCueppers

Thank you, Michelle! You’re the best. Love what you said up there: "God don't like ugly." And of course neither do you, you spread the opposite of meanness!!!

Here is the comment @NEMultimedia mentioned above. I wrote it on @markwschaefer blog as advice for young people starting out in Social Media:

“Before you start putting stuff out there for everyone AND the eternity, make a list. Write down your values, what you stand for, and why you’re in this. To make this a little less abstract, here are some of mine:

1. Whatever my ego writes will not be published.

2. It’s never about me, always about finding ways to help other people shine.

3. I’ll always say what I believe in. I will never compromise that to be more popular or successful.

4. I’m in Social Media because it gives me a voice, and an opportunity to change the world for the better.

5. I’ll never try to make myself more interesting at the expense of someone else.

6. I’ll never join in a choir of people. I will always think for myself.

It’s easy to get caught in the moment. Before publishing ANYTHING, take a moment. See if it’s aligned with your list. And do one more check: See if it’s aligned with your heart. When it's against either one of the two, don’t put it out there.”

Thank you, Sean McGinnis, for being interested in this, too! (For some reason I can't tag you :( Sorry!)

~Dagi

MargieClayman
MargieClayman

@NEMultimedia oh, I see what you mean. It's always nice when the big kids paint a bit crappy stripe over Twitter :)

Ameena Gorton
Ameena Gorton

@margieclayman@ginidietrich Going after a person is wrong. How do you separate calling someone out on an idea/method/approach - since it's their idea/thought it's part of them? I totally agree you don't go out calling someone an XYZ unless you want to be lynched.

Trackbacks

  1. […] You are bashing someoneOf course you have the right to do whatever you want on your own site, but since I am anti-bashing, I’m not going to associate myself with that sort of content, even if it’s written […]

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