The more I use Social Media, the more I’ve realized it is not for the faint-of-heart. Unless you have restricted yourself to a private Facebook and/or Twitter account, you might as well be back on the schoolyard playground when it comes to any type of Social Media.
It reminds me of a moment in the movie The American President; “America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” (The result of this in relation to Social Media, and on Twitter in particular; is what we like to call “Twitter Fights”. You may come out of it victorious, or have your ego completely battered and bruised while you slink off into a corner to pout.)
Like the schoolyard playground, Social Media has all the personalities you had hoped to have left back in your childhood. Unless you only follow a few select people on any Social Media platform, you ARE going to meet them in your interactions in the web.
- The Expert: The Experts are also known as the Know-it-alls. No matter what you tell them, they already know it. The Expert knows everything. They are never wrong. They will fight you to the death to convince you that they are smarter then you. Unfortunately, the Experts usually have a pretty large following, because like lemmings, people will follow any leader off the proverbial cliff. Their audience will jump on the Expert’s bandwagon and chime in just to show they also belong in the “Expert” category. I’ll grant you this; there are times when the Expert actually is right and they sometimes help you increase your knowledge. But getting through their diatribes to actually find these little nuggets can be extremely difficult.
- The Bully: Like the Expert, the Bully will do everything in their power to convince you that their way is the only way. But, the Bully adds a little extra to their forcefulness. If you refuse to give in to the Bully, not only will they publically snub you, they will convince their own group of lemmings to do the same. Get on the wrong side of the Bully and they will make sure you live to regret it. You will probably beg and plead to be restored to their good graces, everything from retweeting them to just plain kissing their ass, just to not be ostracized by the Bully and his gang. The Bully does not fall for this; give it up.
- The Cool Kids: This is the group that that everybody wants to be a part of. The Cool Kids are edgy. They listen to obscure music and tell great jokes. Their postings usually make you wish you had thought of that. They know a lot of good stuff but don’t shove it down your throat like the Experts. If they don’t get a response/reply/retweet, their usual reaction is a simple “Meh” and they move on. Life is pretty good if you are one of the Cool Kids.
- The Nice Guys: The Nice Guys are the people pleasers. They will agree with just about everything just to be accepted into the fold. I like Nice Guys but often feel a little sorry for them. They try awfully hard but are frequently ignored. The Experts and the Bullies won’t waste their time on the Nice Guys because the Nice Guys rarely argue, and what’s the fun in that? Many people think the Nice Guys are insecure and needy, but they actually aren’t. They’re nice, that’s all.
- The Whiners: The Whiners are the attention seekers. They will pester you to death to be heard. They are the high maintenance people of Social Media. And ignoring the Whiners will NOT make them go away. These are the people you regret ever following. My advice to you is to just go ahead and unfollow them; they will never contribute anything to your Social Media experience since they are only in it for themselves. I know, that’s a bit mean, but post after post, tweet after tweet of just “listen to me” and “pay attention to me”, you’re gonna rue the day you clicked follow.
- The Trolls: The Trolls are the people that make your blood boil. Although the free speech aspect of Social Media is commendable, the Trolls are the ones you wish had never ever bought a computer. They spew hate. I imagine them walking around in real life with little fumes of hate wafting from the top of their heads. The Trolls are similar to the Whiners, in that they are attention seekers. But, unfortunately, their methods only make people reject them more. Pay attention when you hear people on Social Media say a particular person is a Troll. That moniker is usually not given out lightly. It is a warning to others. Heed the warning.
- The Outsiders: The Outsiders really just don’t get it. They try really hard though, so sometimes you need to give them a chance. If they use Social Media as a learning tool, they may advance to becoming a valuable person in your feed. If they show potential, take pity on them. Take them by the hand, and lead them into the Promised Land.
- The Hall Monitors: Just like in school, the Hall Monitors are the boss of everybody. Don’t spell something right? They’ll be quick to point out your mistake. Don’t mess with them. If you do, they’ll make sure everybody finds out that you are not worthy of belonging to any Social Media. Yes, they are similar to the Bully, but their purpose in life is to make sure you do everything exactly as they think you should. I guess it gives them some kind of self-satisfaction, but since I would be the kind of person who would be considered the “runs with scissors” instead of the “plays well with others”, I don’t have a lot of patience with the Hall Monitors. If you don’t mind being corrected every time you have a minor faux pas, more power to you.
- The Smart Alecks: These were the kids who smoked under the bleachers and talked back to the teachers. In today's world, these people are the snarky instigators, they goad people into making fools of themselves, usually very successfully. Like the Cool Kids, they are pretty popular because they love to post drunk posts/tweets, because everything is funnier when you're drunk. They are very entertaining. The Smart Alecks also love to laugh at everyone, including themselves. You will recognize them immediately because they often to write in all caps and use all kinds of abbreviations or have very inventive avatars. Sit back and enjoy the Smart Alecks, they are just looking for a good time.
Looking back on my Social Media experience, I now understand why some people have their accounts private or only follow back a limited number of people. Which brings me to Google+. I always hate unfollowing people; I guess it’s the Nice Guy in me. Like many people, I also hate being unfollowed, which might be a little Whiner-ish too. So, the one thing I like about Google+ is the ability to put people in “circles”. You can let anyone in the world follow your feed without having to actually follow theirs. It’s a win/win situation. They don’t feel dissed that you don’t read their feed; they don’t even know that you don’t. You can create circles and then just pick the ones you actually want to interact with. True story; I have a circle called “People I have no clue about”. No, you aren’t in it.
I have a love/hate relationship with Social Media. Many days I just want to tweet “That’s it, I quit”. That’s the time when I take a break and go enjoy the real world. So if I don’t tweet or post on Facebook or Google+ for a while, that’s where I’ll be. Just DM me and I’ll tell you where you can find me, hopefully hanging out with the Cool Kids or drinking with the Smart Alecks.