With acknowledgment to Irving Tressler, who wrote his parody of Dale Carnegie’s famous “How to Win Friends and Influence People“, both published in 1937. I originally posted this article in 2010. Social media snark is much more pronounced today, so this may seem tame. Even so, a lot of what happened to me back then still seems extreme.
Social media snark and downright rudeness online are on the rise
Maybe more of it is coming my way, as my social network rapidly expands. Maybe I’m too sensitive to it. Or maybe, because their voices are usually the loudest and most aggressive ones, they reverberate and dig at me more.
I’m talking about the lack of common courtesy and manners, and people spewing hurtful epithets and vitriol, instead of making life more pleasant as we all muddle through our daily challenges.
Why do people feel it’s their right to publish negative content about people they don’t like and possibly don’t even know, with no regard for how their words impact that person – internally and in their perception to the external world?
Is it naive to expect kindness over nastiness on these public platforms? Is it too much to hope that people have learned and practice what is second nature to many of us – “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, say nothing”?
I like to think that eventually their passion for sniping about others will come back to bite them, but comeuppance may not ruffle them at all, or cause them to rethink the way they operate. Maybe they purposefully mean to brand themselves as snide, thoughtless people.
The thing is, many, many people are giddy about aligning themselves with these proponents of negativity, and happily jump on their brandwagons. The more their bad behavior is reinforced, the more they’re encouraged to be snarkier still. They’re apparently unaware of how much damage they do to their personal brands.
Twitter seems especially prone to social media snark
With its conversational chumminess, Twitter especially is riddled with mean-spirited and, frankly, tiresome remarks excused by the perpetrators who forewarn us in their Twitter bios that “I tell it like it is. If you don’t like it, don’t follow me“, or similar words.
Well of course, on Twitter you can un-follow anyone you want to, but these rants against you will still pop up in your @username mentions. And plenty of other people out there are reading this stuff about you.
Snarky Twitter folks have attacked me
I’ve gotten Twitter mentions referring to blog posts of mine, stating that my opinions were flat out wrong. I foolishly tried defending my stance in the past, but no more.
I’ve received tweets telling me to change my twitter handle (@MegGuiseppi) because my name is too weird and hard to spell.
Someone I don’t know on Twitter published a tweet accusing me of misusing the word “executive”. What? I’ve been working with executives (my client base) for over 20 years. I think I know who they are and how to use the word properly. And even if I didn’t, who asked you, and why tell the world?
There are Twitter people passing judgement and tw(outing) people who have photos they don’t like.
I have a few blog comments on my blog waiting to be approved that disparage opinions of mine and demean me as a person. I choose not to approve and post them.
A highly-esteemed site posted an article recently that basically dissed those of us in the careers industry as dispensers of damaging job seeking advice. Then at the end of the post, they dug the knife in by daring any of us in the profession to rebut. The author was clearly looking to boost her blog comments, and delighted in the repercussions she hoped she’d set in motion.
Don’t add to the negativity on social media
In my world, Dale Carnegie’s core principles should always hold true – for real-life and virtual interaction:
- Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
- Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.
- Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never tell someone they are wrong.
- If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
- Appeal to noble motives.