I had an interesting experience the other day. I was looking around on Twitter, and following various people’s conversations, and found a few new people that I wanted to follow. I clicked on their profiles, read their last few tweets, and decided to follow them.
I opened my direct messages, and had one from one of the people I had just followed. This person accused me of being a “marketer-jerk” and said, on principle, that she wasn’t going to follow me because I was involved in marketing, and she really hoped I would stop following her.
Now, of course, I was a bit surprised (or, as I said, shocked), especially because I hadn’t done anything, as far as I could tell, to warrant this kind of a response. Yes, my Twitter profile mentions that I am a marketer, but if you read my tweetstream, I actually do engage, take part in the conversation, and am a real person on Twitter. Sure, I mention my blog, or programs or classes I’m involved in, but, for the most part, my self promotion is pretty contained. I do try to create conversations with people and to share content (not just mine) that I think would be relevant and interesting.
What I found most interesting in this experience was how quickly people make negative assumptions and judgments. I talked about this a little bit in my post on social media rejection. What I’m seeing is that online, bad behavior is just getting worse. I recently read a book about celebrity narcissism, and I think that this is rubbing off on regular people too.
Sure, we’re all human, and sure, we have bad days. I am certain that this particular woman must have had some bad experiences, or a bad life, or something, and somehow felt it was justifiable to be rude to a complete stranger. What I find kind of silly, though, is that this person was on Twitter anyway, and with a public profile. If you’re really that protective about yourself, your environment, and your experiences, maybe you shouldn’t be hanging out on a publicly accessible social network. (Or maybe you should put in your profile, “Careful, I bite.”)
When part of the process of participating on Twitter is following people, and being followed by people, why be on the site if you’re going to personally and mortally offended each time someone uses the site as it is designed to be used?
More than anything, I think that people use the relative anonymity of the internet as an excuse to be ill-mannered and poorly behaved. The problem is that nothing is really private anymore, and a negative comment made ‘privately’ can still have unintended outcomes.
I see this on Facebook too. People post publicly on their Wall, but then sometimes get annoyed when other people respond or comment to what they’re posting.
Uhmm… what definition of “publicly visible social network” was somehow unclear to you?