Losing friends and followers on the Internet is much easier to do than increasing friends and followers. Here are things I try to do to build my network.
Trolling and Trolls
I love Internet forums. I read forums for fun and for information.
But forums have a sneaky way of getting readers into a blind date with a troll. A few months ago, I gave my opinion on a political forum, only to find that another person snapped back at me. The wrong way to respond to the negative comment is to reply to the comment. First, I would have given that person attention. Second, there is risk that the person would become a troll and follow me into other social media websites. How wonderful, I could have a relationship with a troll!
I deleted the comment.
Some trolls will post articles intended just to get a reaction from readers. The readers get upset. Comments turn into rants in running streams of comments. Others slap back. The more that people comment, the higher the post rises in Internet attention.
On LinkedIn, for example, when I comment on an article, my comment makes the article appear in my account. From there, other people see the post and may click to follow it. Then, when people comment on the article in my LinkedIn activity feed, the article can appear their LinkedIn account. The article becomes viral.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could make everyone on the Internet either agree with us? Correcting people on the Internet feels so satisfying while I am writing my comment. But the blowback can get ugly.
Moreover, policing the Internet can damage relationships. As much as I want to fix what I see, I do not know how other people feel amount my correcting them. I can burn bridges and never know it.
Correcting People on The Internet is not my job.
Not all your friends and followers agree with your politics. The web is rife with political articles and post, especially during political seasons. when it comes to politics, most people have a bias that overrides their brain. Politicians do not give people information. They give the media sound bites and clickbait headlines. What many politicians want to do is chum the waters for political fish. When I see people posting chum in my Internet feeds, I unfollow them. I don’t see their face are opinions anywhere on the Internet.
Sometimes, I don’t unfriend or disconnect from people. I just unfollow Friends Who Post Politics on the Internet.
Acting out of Anger
The Internet is immediate, powerful, and permanent. Deleting things that you may regret doesn’t always save people from the negative responses. I have seen screenshots of deleted tweets, posts, and comments. To avoid posting things you will regret, write them down on your device. Come back to them in a couple of days to see whether you still want to post them.
When my gut tells me that I am posting something sketchy, I side with my gut. There is absolutely nothing I can post in a forum that is worth risking my reputation.
Changing People’s Beliefs
There is often little chance of changing the opinion of other people. We all want to see things that reinforce our beliefs. On social, religious, and political issues, our feelings can easily override our judgement. When we argue with people, they are defending their beliefs. They are not changing their beliefs. Moreover, they may deepen their beliefs and hold resentments against us.