Cafe Witness

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

10 Ways to Be a Social Media Asshole

You may have heard that social media is "all about the conversation." That may be true in some cases, but not all. In fact, for some people, social media is simply about finding new and interesting ways to be an asshole - it's Machiavelli's "The Prince," as applied to text boxes.

If you're finding it difficult to irritate people on a regular basis, here are ten tips you can follow to aggravate even more people - many of them strangers!

1. Insult people loudly and publicly. Bonus points if you don't know the person, but you do know enough to know that he / she / they must be horribly, horribly wrong. This will endear you to everyone else who shares your opinion, and will make you seem like a man / woman / composite persona that's not to be fucked with.

2. Leave scathing comments in public places. Nothing says "I've seriously considered your work / opinion and respectfully disagree" like personal attacks injected into one's thoughtstream.

3. Always be anonymous. Never say with public faces what's best typed hidden in private places.

4. Always ignore grammar / spelling / punctuation. Clear and legible disagreements are best left in the classroom. As a person with unbridled truth to share, you're free of the rules of class.

5. Steal other people's work. Creative Commons licenses never hold up in court, because Americans know that anything available to the public is fair game. If they didn't want you to take credit for their work, they wouldn't have made it public in the first place.

6. Talk endlessly about yourself. In a world of nearly 7 billion people, nothing is as interesting as you. Always find a way to turn topical conversations into conversations about you - especially when you don't know what people are talking about in the first place. (One great way to do this is to lead off with "Speaking of ___," and then immediately change the subject to that head cold you're not quite over.)

7. Namedrop like it's your job. Because it is. That's because people may not remember you, especially if what you're doing is redundant or unremarkable -- like, say, being a "social media expert" or "communications guru"-- but they'll damn sure remember who you had lunch with last week. (And by "had lunch," it's okay if you forget to add, "in the vicinity of," or "at the same conference as." Because even if you *didn't* technically "have lunch" with Seth Godin, he undoubtedly follows you on Twitter, so he might as well have been at your table when the server girl spilled all that water on Andrew Baron [at the next table].)

8. Pontificate loudly about why all new ideas will fail (or PHALE). And then, if they don't, take credit for their success by insisting that the creators of said idea must have taken your warnings seriously and changed their business plan.

9. Blame designers for your inability to understand their services. Because if it doesn't work exactly like Google, Flickr, MySpace or anything else you already know, it's new, and new design is bad and likely to fail (see above).

10. Make all private emails and messages public. Because if so-and-so had really meant it when they direct messaged you in confidence, or asked you to sign that non-disclosure agreement, they wouldn't have used the internet for such sensitive communications. As mentioned previously, if it's on the web -- even behind someone else's password-protected intranet firewall -- it's fair game. (The people have a right to know.)

Do you have a favorite approach that I've overlooked?

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