I have a friend who is exceedingly nice. She once listened to me tell her all about a person that I considered to have behaved inconsiderately. In response, she asked me why I thought that person had acted in that manner; I told her I didn't know. She advised me going forward to "be curious, not furious."
The difference in a troll and a turd is that a turd identifies him or herself with a name and/or email address. They’re accountable, but still being a pain in the ass, mostly likely just because they like being a pain in the ass.
I've dealt with a lot of turds over the past nine years. Time and time again I see individuals attempt to build themselves up by tearing other brands and people down. These detractors seek attention and validation. They exhibit low self-esteem and will take whatever feedback they can get, positive or negative. Comments like "you're so smart" are what they expect. Comments like "you're wrong" are often interpreted as a lack of intellect of the commentor.
When you set raw emotion aside and think through a situation, sometimes surprising outcomes emerge when dots start getting connected. I've seen:
- A blogger who publishes disdainful criticism of a company's social media campaign, who then contacted the firm in private to be hired as a consultant and fix the "problems."
- An individual who applied for jobs multiple times and was never hired, writing positive content about a company prior to asking for a job and then negative/critical content about the company after it declined to hire.
- A person who believed him/herself owed money in a business deal, despite having no documentation. S/he was not simply handed payment of an arbitrary sum and has since taken to acting as a subtle detractor of the company.
We'd all like everyone to be positive all the time, but the halcyon days of riding the social media cluetrain are long over. I don't know if money is the root of all evil, but it quite often lies at the root of why detractors behave the way they do.
Next time you see a heated online exchange -- whether you're directly involved or not -- be curious, not furious. What you discover may surprise you.