The Five Keys to Surviving Attacks from a Social Media Mob
As someone who first started doing political blogging in 2001, I can tell you that there was once a time when the chances of a regular person being cut to ribbons online for a faux pas were practically zero. As someone who has been deluged with negative comments after building a top 10,000 in the world website, has received numerous death threats and quasi-death threats (i.e. “Someone should slit your throat), has been doxed, has been the target of hit pieces in BuzzFeed and the New York Times, and has literally had thousands of negative tweets aimed at him in a few hours' time, I can tell you it is no longer like that. YOU, yes you reading this piece, may one day be in the crosshairs of a social media mob because of something you do or say on social media. So, what do you do when it happens?
1. Don’t apologize to the mob
I believe in apologies so much that there’s a chapter in my book 101 Things All Young Adults Should Know that talks about the importance of being willing to say you’re sorry when you mess up. Of course, that’s with your friends, your family, your co-workers, or maybe the person whose shoe you accidentally stepped on.
When social media mobs start yowling for blood because they don’t like a joke you told or they’re offended by some common sentiment you utter, the first thought you may have is, “If I apologize, maybe all of this will go away.” Unfortunately, that is not how it works. To the contrary, an apology is taken as an admission of guilt and evidence that their pressure is working. It’s not about getting an apology for these people; it’s about people with meaningless lives getting a sense of accomplishment by punishing you. Don’t give them the satisfaction. The people who do the best in these situations are inevitably the ones who don’t apologize, aren’t ashamed, and don’t back up one inch.
2. Be prepared to take some losses
The world is full of cowards and people who go along with the crowd. Some of them may be your online “friends,” your social media networks, or even your boss. When the New York Times did a hit piece on me, Twitter pulled all the web page Twitter accounts I own (@rightwingnews, @GrumpySloth1, @Linkiestblog, etc.) without explanation. There was no violation of its rules. Twitter just went along with the crowd. The reality is that people in the middle of social media firestorms do sometimes lose jobs or take temporary hits at their businesses. That may be a shock to the system, but in MOST CASES it’s not really that big of a deal. You lose your job, then you look around and find another one. It may be a setback, usually a minor one, but rarely is it the end of the world. So don’t withdraw from society. Don’t quit. Don’t resign. If other people want to sell you down the river, fine, but don’t do the work of the mob for all of them.