Thursday, 22 September 2011

Be Human

I don't mind sharing that I'm a little bummed today.  Last night I made the horrendous mistake of communicating with an on-line superstar, a self-described on-line strategist, in what she perceived to be a criticism.  Actually, my hero was having an on-line meltdown and I was trying to caution her that I thought she may have stepped way over the line, publicly.

So, my hero tweeted that I was a "troll".  Actually, an "awkward troll".  At first I wasn't sure she meant me, then I thought it might be some sort of internet slang that I didn't understand.  And then it got personal.

You see, I'm a little self-concious about my height.  (And of my thick eyebrows and scruffy beard, my pointed ears and my penchant for fresh goat).  As the tweets progressed, I realized "troll" was a slur on my name.  Tyrrell - Troll, get it?  If at first I didn't, but I caught on after she tweeted something about J Troll.  She's so clever, my hero.

OK, so what did I learn?  First, even admired leaders sometimes just blow it.  I feel bad that all 20,000 of her followers had to see it happen.  There, but for the grace of God, go any of us. 

Secondly, even though we feel like we know someone who tweets 5 or 6 times a day, even though we admire their insight and appreciate their timely links, we are not friends.  We've never met, although I used to hope we would someday. 

It still hurts to be mocked publicly.  And that's my third lesson learned.  Although well intentioned, she saw my communication as an attack.  (She actually tweeted that - "I've been attacked by a troll.")  If I had to do it all again, I wouldn't.  She was clearly having a public, reputation-destorying meltdown, and I know I didn't help though I didn't intend to hurt.

And so I leave you with the tweeted words of another of my internet heroes, Mr. Shane Gibson.  "Social Media Tip: When you criticize people online realize that one day you may have to interact with them face to face. Be human."  Good advice for trolls and nanny-goats alike.

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