Are you Being Attacked on Social Media?

“Twitter turns into a dark place after midnight.”

attack1A friend and social media guru had warned me about this strange phenomenon years ago. This holds particularly true at the moment, with all the darkness and vitriol being thrown around in the twittersphere.

Luckily, I go to bed quite early, so I am spared much of this.

But, as anybody with an active social media presence, I have been attacked online. It happens in different forms. Some can be passive aggressive, some just plain crazy.

One incident that happened to me involved an employee of a former client. We had just concluded a successful Q&A session on LinkedIn with a senior executive answering questions about their company’s commitment to social media. The next morning, I woke up to find a comment in the thread attacking me for not understanding the hard life this particular employee had had (an issue not even remotely related to the topic of the session). The comment had been posted in the early hours of the morning (probably under the influence of… wine, I suppose).

I labelled this as “wacko” in my memory and quickly moved on. There were others (luckily not many).

I am quite a private person, but I thought I would write this post because of the times we are in. May be, what I learned can help someone out there. So, here is my advice. If you are being attacked (online, but this applies to offline as well), here is what I would

– Remember that the attack might not be directed at you. As in the case of the disgruntled employee venting on LinkedIn, the real target is someone or something else. The attacker might be frustrated with their career, their bosses, their level of debt, their image, etc. etc. They might see you as an easy target with no repercussions (in my case, it was easier to shoot at a consultant rather than at their employer). It might be envy (people fantasize about those they follow on social media having the perfect life).  And… the stillness of the night and familiarity of their home might make them feel they are safe to strike.

– Don’t engage. Remember that reacting to their attacks will feed their energy and encourage them to continue. A reaction is all they are waiting for. If, for any reason you have to engage (for example, to get the record straight for the sake of your followers), stick to the facts, post your answer and remove yourself mentally and energetically from the situation. Go for a walk, go to the gym, anywhere. Remove yourself.

– Depending on how severe the attack was, dealing with the aftermath can be difficult. And here… you will have to discover what kind of support works for you. We are all different. I am quite religious, so my faith has really helped me in the past. For you, it might be your friends, hobbies, family. Or a combination of different factors.

– Focus on something positive. I know it sounds like a worn-out mantra, but it really works. What you focus on grows. If certain Tweets get you down (I would not be surprised given the current climate), mute or remove the source from your feed. Focus on news or events that make you feel good.

 

And… I forgot to mention, don’t stay up late. It’s not a pumpkin Twitter has chosen to turn into in the wee hours of the morning…

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