Through this blog, I have covered many angles of content creation, strategy, and marketing career issues. But there is one serious topic I have avoided until now.
It took a post from Amber Naslund — Confessions of a Social Media Someone — to make me realize that I am probably doing you a disservice unless I join her and write openly about the dark side of social media success. It is a subject that is always present yet I have ignored it.
In Amber’s honest and brave piece (the hallmark of her style) she admits to nearly being crushed out of existence by the hateful attacks that come with social media celebrity. The relentless bullying crept into her self-dialogue until she suffered from debilitating self-doubt and depression.
Success is a target
Amber is not alone. Although I have not experienced online haters to the extent she has, it is a regular issue for me and many people experiencing success in this public space find themselves under attack at some point.
To be clear, I am not talking about honest criticism. I welcome that as part of the social media experience. I am talking about anonymous (usually), personal, unprofessional attacks.
This is the great enigma of building a powerful online brand. The more you put yourself out there, the more you give, the more you help, the more you attract the attention of trolls.
I’m not a whiner and I fully know how blessed I am to be in a position to help and teach you in some little way through posts, podcasts, and books. I do not ever take that for granted.
I have fun in my career every day but I also know that the more successful I am, the more bullies and trolls I attract. Even though I am a centered person and normally look at these folks with sincere pity (what has happened to a person when they only find joy in disparaging others?) I still find myself spending more and more time deflecting bile from the Blog Supremacists.
A fortress mindset
We live in a broken world and the social web amplifies human darkness. I know that this is what I have to look forward to: All my efforts to help, mentor, connect, and provide free content every day will result in increasing amounts of toxicity aimed at damaging me and my reputation. Kind of an interesting career choice, isn’t it?
There is plenty of gab out there about “ignoring the haters.” But that strategy is much easier said than done when you are being attacked publicly and privately for no other reason than you have achieved a certain level of popularity.
In Seth Godin’s most recent book he said the reason he does not accept comments on his blog is that he is so thrown off by trolls that when he experiences hateful criticism he can’t focus on anything else. So he simply blocks it out to the extent possible.
Every week I get questions and comments from folks who want to be in my position some day. Of course I am positive and nurturing with my advice but perhaps I have not been completely honest, If you are the type of person who cannot develop a tough mental fortress against hate, you will be suffocated in a career like this.
OK. Enough negativity.
I’m not looking for sympathy and in fact don’t want comments in the comment section in that vein. I just wanted to highlight Amber’s great post and give you an honest glimpse of the secret Troll War you may not normally see.
Onward and upward.