Social media trolls - Illegitimi non carborundum

Perhaps then I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was that three entrepreneurs who I'd considered - and still do - to be big personalities, all tell me they'd felt hurt or had, albeit fleeting, crises of confidence as a result of people publically criticising them.

All three incidents were across social media. Now I'm a massive advocate of social media. It's a huge part of my life. It's ironic though that a media that has provided so many individuals with the opportunity to build their profile and better communicate the softer side of their personalities, should also be responsible for so much self-doubt.

Now social media also rightly works to expose individuals who make false claims or companies that don't deliver on their promises - and it should continue to. And if you stick your head above the parapet, you're there to be shot at. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, after all.

What's becoming clearer though is that while social media has handed a megaphone to Jo Public to shout when they've been wronged, it's amplified everything else too: including anyone who wants to take a pop at you - rightly or wrongly.

The entrepreneurs I spoke to aren't normally the overly sensitive types and they don't expect to please all of the people, all of the time. Yet they've seemingly rubbed up a small number of individuals the wrong way who are taking the opportunity to publically criticise them, influence others and generally stir up trouble.

And that's a big deal, right now. If you 'get' social media you'll know shit no longer sticks, it travels - and fast. As the weekly 'celebrity X RIP' trending tweets demonstrate, truth is not a deterrent to those looking for a passing bandwagon.

So if it happens to you, what can you do?

Well you can ignore it. Not normally a wise move in social media but if the attention seeker is ignored, there's a chance they'll go away. Or accelerate their efforts…

You could react. And wouldn't we all love to cut our hecklers down to size using no more than 140 characters and our acerbic wit? Again, there's major backfiring potential here and a lot of unfunny people think they're the opposite.

Your best bet is to take it offline. Get anything negative out of the public sphere and try to find out where the grudge has come from. The problem is, most trolls can't be tamed easily and their flaming can be infuriating and, if you let them get to you, upsetting.

If it gets to that, there's no hiding it, it sucks. Other than legal action (which again, could backfire) and reporting to mods, there's not much you actually can do.

Instead, you'll have to rely on social karma. Social media may be hyper-sensitive and some people may be exploiting that, but it's still largely fair and transparent. If you're doing good, people will see that and ignore or discredit your enemies.

My advice: thicken that skin once more, focus on the people that do value you, don't feed the trolls and, crucially, 'nil carborundum illegitimi'.

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