I’ve been trolled twice now, on LinkedIn of all platforms, and it’s been the same type of person both times. So what does this suggest, and what’s the underlying meaning here?
Trolling is an inevitable part of being online, and I welcome all feedback from people.
However, what do those nasty little messages mean? And how do you best deal with it?
Yep, there’s only been two so far, and I can already hear you saying: “relax, Chris! People get trolled five times a day, and you’re bringing up two in several years? Get over it!”
Well… yes, but that’s exactly the point. Two times or five, what do these kinds of attacks usually indicate?
The First Incident
Winning the Australian Marketing Institute’s (AMI) Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of the Year award last year was a significant highlight in my career. I was so humbled to receive it, and it meant a lot to me, especially at the time, as I was transitionally over to becoming fully self-employed. The award gave me the confidence to know I was making the right choice.
What was even more touching was the outpouring of supportive messages and comments from colleagues, friends and even people in my extended network across social media. It was a fantastic experience, and for that I’m thankful.
That was when it struck. My first nasty comment.
I get it! It happens, and you can’t please everyone. Nor should you try. But I was taken aback when a self-proclaimed figurehead in Australian Marketing circles accused the AMI of being out of their minds by choosing me, despite him not knowing a thing about me at all.
Now, at the time, I had no idea who this person was, but with a bit of quick research, I found out all I needed to in about ten minutes. He was a 60+ year old male, whose posts and comments were filled with a relentless theme of bitter hatred about the modern marketing industry, all of which reeked of a underlying desperation to remain relevant.
What was even more interesting was that, despite being what they claimed as “if you haven’t heard of me, you are a lightweight in the industry”, their website and branding spoke volumes. It looked like it was designed in the 1990ies, and had never been updated or changed since its inception. What was worse is that, their website copy was just as negative as their blog. If I was a potential lead and say that line, I’d be a bit put off, myself!
But… I refused to lower myself to their level.
So, I responded professionally, and took the high road- as you should. I copped more abuse and rubbish from his reply, which is when I decided to call him directly. Well- he went to absolute water when I began to explain who I was.
“Instead of trying to tell me how insignificant I am,” I said calmly, “how about trying to be more supportive of upcoming people in the industry? You should be taking a mentor role and offering your advice, rather than sniping away with horrible comments from afar.”
Well, what a turnaround! He responded with “Well said, Christopher. I’m just a grumpy old man who has been branded as a dinosaur because I come from Direct Marketing… which is exactly what digital marketing is. I hope our paths cross in the future.”
This one was more recent, and was in relation to a recent post I made on LinkedIn about an upcoming Copywriting class that I’m teaching in Sydney, which I titled: “Copywriting and how to get it write.”
This was just a funny play on words and it got a lot of attention. Mission successful.
Well, a fellow copywriter- again, 60+ male- swooped in with the comment: “wow, with that typo in the title, this isn’t a good advert for a writing course.” BOOM.
Now, let’s ignore his complete ignorance for a second. Who just does that? Who writes something like that, for no other reason than to just have a dig? Worse, people started blindly liking his comment, despite me writing back to explain that it was intentional.
So, again, I put my research hat on and again, it was the same story. Self-proclaimed award winning and world-renowned marketing professional, but this time, his website was from the 1980ies when the Internet was first invented. It was black, with blocky white writing, crammed into the top left-hand corner. I can’t begin to explain how terrible the formatting and the wording was.
I did the only reasonable thing and offered him free tickets to my seminar as a way to help him! Of which, I’m not surprised, he promptly declined.
Let’s face it- both occasions were fuelled by jealousy. It’s completely obvious, so let’s not beat around the bush here.
So what’s the common denominator? In my experience, people spread trolling and hateful comments when they’re threatened or infected by the green-eyed monster. In today’s very competitive world, envy a pride can drive even the most mature people to act rashly and drop all pretences of professionalism.
What should we learn from this?
- Ignore anything extremely petty, as most of it is not worth your time
- For larger things that you can’t ignore, respond. But ALWAYS keep it professional. Don’t lower yourself to their level.
- Chances are, they’re acting the way they are because of an issue they have with themselves, and not you. So don’t take it personally and certainly don’t dwell on it
- The block button can be your best friend
- Take constructive feedback on- but only if it really is constructive, because we are never done learning.
I’m by far a figurehead or a celebrity, or an expert in any regard. But I work hard every day to achieve what I do, and I deserve my success as a result. Even if some random person on the internet disagrees.
So, a message to the trolls
Vent your frustration into self-help and self-improvement, rather than bringing others down. Perhaps invest some of that built up energy in dealing with your issues and learning how to better yourself as an opportunity, rather than seeing the world around you as a threat.
I hope that my experience will show others what’s out there, and that you should never let someone else stop you from doing your thing.
…. now, back on track with copywriting!
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