Ever have a bad day? If you say no, come on…..so I’m going to go on the assumption that everyone was honest and said “heck yeah!” and go from there.
Pretend today is your bad day. You have to go to work despite not feeling your best, your kids are lagging at getting out the door and your husband reminds you that you have to run an errand at lunch, so no relaxing sit-down lunch to regroup before a busy afternoon. Then your boss starts to get pushy or demanding and your day only gets worse.
Then compound that fantasy — which is probably a reality for many of you — by pretending that you have to deal with the public. You have to put on a smile and listen to them possibly complain or respond in writing in a much kinder way than you are feeling. You’re stuck putting on a friendly face and trying your best and then wham, you mildly lose it with someone.
Maybe you’re a little rude. A little abrupt. Your body language conveys frustration.
This happens to all of us. We have to work harder next time to contain, but it happens. Maybe we don’t even realize it until later, or not at all, but it happens. None of us are immune.
Or maybe you are having a good day but you are rushing and you make a typo on social media or email. You can’t give a person the answer they want. You have to send something to another department and they take a long time, so the person standing in front of you — or reading your written reply — gets upset at the lack of help. This happens to all of us, too.
These mistakes you make aren’t typical behavior. You are mortified. You feel bad. You want to help the person but are unable to. Or you realize later and wish you could make it up. Or maybe even someone else points it out to you later and you do a face palm that you didn’t notice.
I don’t want it made my public when I do it. Do you?
So why are people so excited to launch a negative blast on social media when they’ve had a bad experience? What happened to the good old-fashioned route of picking up the phone first? Or maybe trying to find a contact email address? Or using their nice words, for Pete’s sake?
We never really know what is going on at the other end. Maybe people really are just rude but maybe their cat just died. Maybe it’s their first day back after a bereavement leave. Maybe they just got a layoff notice. Maybe their boss just placed unrealistic expectations on them and required them to enforce a stupid rule. They may be dealing with a nasty migraine and have no sick days left. Or they’re struggling financially and can’t afford to stay home or even have to go to a second job at the end of the day. Or their work structure is such that they’re just the gatekeeper, the messenger, the bearer of bad, or no, news.
So imagine that your worst day, your worst moment, something that may be entirely out of your hands — things we’ve ALL dealt with — is posted for the world to see. Magnified to look worse than it was and shared with people who don’t really care in any way other than to ‘help’ their friend’s tweet or post get more eyes. Who is this helping? And in the end, to what result? Have we gotten so bad that we enjoy making others miserable?
Maybe it’s because I sometimes AM the person on the other end of a negative social media blast that I feel this way. It’s part of the job, so I deal, but it can be so unnecessary. It’s okay to reach out on Twitter or Facebook — don’t get me wrong — but remember the person on the end of that blast may have zero to do with the problem you experienced. Your rant, because, let’s face it, many social media blasts are rants, may mean they have to miss their daughter’s piano recital to try to get you help, if for no other reason than to get you to stop tweeting. See what happens there? When you go on and on and become unreasonable, people who can help you want to help you less and less. A normal response to someone requesting help generates a truly compassionate reaction, where the social media manager or customer care representative really wants to help you, but the more negative or mean you are, they less want to help you than to make you stop.
Let’s clarify really briefly what the definition of a social media blast is:
- You experience something you don’t like, or something that offends you.
- You tweet the company online, or your post to their Facebook page.
- You share your story, which may be a bit exaggerated by now because you’re so mad, with your friends and family and ask them to share your tweet and/or posts.
- Your tweet and/or Facebook post is shared by first those you know, then by random strangers.
In short, it’s like an explosion of fireworks. It starts off small and before you know it, tons of people can see it. But it’s ugly..and stuff may fall on you, and it leaves a mark where it was set off.
The company or person on the other end suddenly has one problem that’s now so huge that they have no real time to fix the initial problem you experienced and are instead doing damage control. They have 500 tweets to answer instead of just one. They’re stuck at work reading possibly vulgar terms from people that have zip to do with the real problem and frequently don’t even care, as they’re just trying to appear supportive.
Your social media blast may make you feel better, but is it worth it?
If the person doesn’t have a thick skin, now they’re upset or trying to understand why you hate them and want to be so mean. Your tweets are often equally as ‘rude’ as what you think you initially experienced — but that’s okay, right? Misery loves company? We were treated in a way we think is bad so we want to pay it forward?
My mind can’t wrap around it. I can’t fathom why we want to be so mean to random strangers. You don’t know what they’re dealing with. All you’re focused on is your problem, which now may take longer to answer OR may yield you a quick response by someone who steps in to shut it down, but at what cost?
Kindness goes a very long way. I’m not saying I haven’t told a company that I have an issue with their product or service, but I try to remember that I wouldn’t want my mistakes magnified. Sure, there are cases that need to be made public — bullying, abuse, crimes, safety issues, etc. — but those are probably a small percentage. Why don’t we care more that we could be costing a good, solid, quality, reputable business to lose money that maybe they need to pay medical bills or their mortgage? Why aren’t we more aware of the damage our anger can cause?
Reach out on Twitter to get the attention of someone able to help you, but leave it at that. Don’t send your friends and your neighbor and your hairdresser onto Twitter to call the person names or question what happened or even worse, violate their right to privacy. Simply having a problem with you doesn’t mean their privacy needs to be messed with. You’re messing with their life in that case.
Be kind online. Pick up the phone. Think your actions through before you overreact, because you can’t take it back. You could end up causing someone to lose their job, or their child to be witness to a tirade because someone saw them offline and read them the riot act solely based on what they read on Twitter. Whatever they did, chances are that it’s not worthy of the public humiliation. I’m not a parent who disciplines via humiliation on social media or my marital woes on Facebook, so I’m not a fan of dragging the public into what should rightfully be a private situation.
Pretend you are the one at fault here — or perceived at fault. How would you want that person to handle it? Yeah, that’s what you should do… Skip the social media blast and handle it the old-fashioned way.