In June, I went through and cut out most of the social media from my life and talked about it in a previous post. This is me elaborating on observations and an update on how it’s been going. I completely stripped my Facebook account from all posts, comments, shares, and other interactions. With this purge, literally, thousands of helpful comments and posts I made in various tech groups on Facebook disappeared. It was a hard decision because I put a lot of time and energy into helping people out, but there were also posts where people just picked fights for whatever reason I got roped into. This post talks about getting into arguments on social media and how people who genuinely want to help others out are driven out of the communities because they are tired of the abuse or harassment from others on the platforms.
One of the reasons I cleaned out the Facebook profile is not to hide anything but to limit the potential of someone trying to pull me back in. I frequently would have people resurrect an old post or comment just for the sake of causing drama or bringing up things that were already resolved. I also pulled out of the 100+ Facebook groups I was a member of to prevent people from tagging me in posts inside the groups. I frequently would have people tag me demanding help or people trying to exploit the tag notification to circumvent our work policies for whatever reason.
Let’s start with arguments on social media. I would be willing to bet that if you are reading this, you have at one point (probably multiple times) gotten into an argument with a friend or some random stranger online. You get worked up, and you both end up being rude to each other. It bothers me that you lose things like inflection and a personal connection versus talking to someone because it is text.
I feel that if the same conversations happened in person, people would not get so heated. I’ve been guilty of coming across as rude or an “asshole” in response to someone doing the same. Sometimes, I was the one to turn the conversation sour because I took things the wrong way. Because you are just typing something, it is easier to be disconnected and forget that there is a person on the receiving end of what you’re typing. I’ve found that it’s just better not to engage in arguments on social media platforms and if you really want to talk to the person about it, then do it over voice or at the very least over a private chat.
Since I’ve gotten off social media (except for using the chat portion of Facebook), I’ve been feeling a lot better and having more genuine connections with people online and offline. You may not want to disengage (leaving groups, deleting all the old stuff, etc.) as aggressively as I did, but if you find yourself feeling drained and stressed out frequently, it may be time to take a break to recharge. Try talking to more people directly instead of engaging with them through tweets or comments on posts.
Moving on to helping people online. This is building on some of the points I made about arguments online above. I’m someone that loves sharing my knowledge with others. When I originally started getting into things online and networking with others, I loved making tutorials or answering questions people online had. I used to frequent forums, Reddit, Facebook groups, and other platforms where people congregate. Whatever hobby I was into, I would look for online communities to seek help and offer help when I had knowledge that could help.
I gave up on Reddit over 2 years ago once it started being filled with toxic people (aka “neckbeards” as the kids say) who only seemed to be out to attack others. This is not to say that everyone on Reddit is toxic but if you spend enough time on there you will see what I am referring to in terms of behavior from it’s users. You could post something on there that was correct, but there would always be someone who would come along to attack your input, degrade you, and propose their “better” idea. As with many things in life, there are multiple ways to fix things, do things, or troubleshoot. The issue comes from many people not recognizing that their idea is not always the best one or, at the very least, that there are multiple solutions to problems or projects.
Then I moved on to Facebook groups. I was heavily into them in the 3D printing community, and they are how the company I work for was started. But over the last 2-3 years, I am seeing the same thing happening to the Facebook groups that happen on Reddit. Add to the mix that because I own a company in the 3D printing market, people would constantly try to start arguments or “one-up” me just because of who I am. I spent close to 20 hours a week or more, just going through the groups and replying to posts to help people out. Then came the toxic people on the Facebook groups as well. Once that happened, it was time to leave the groups because I was tired of dealing with these people.
On top of some people just being overall unpleasant, I would get people who would demand free help (they were not customers of the company I run) because they messaged me directly. Some of them would send obscene and entitled messages if you did not respond to them quickly. Do not get into the habit of helping out random people in a private chat. It will just end up with others flooding your messages once word gets out.
Now you could block the people, but at a certain point, once you become known in the communities, people will target you when they see you posting. This results in the daily annoyance and frustration of blocking people or resisting getting into arguments with these toxic people. The only online community I deal with now is YouTube because they have to leave a comment to engage, and blocking them is easy.
This is just my experience, but it is also echoed by at least 6 people I know through these communities. I have watched many smart, knowledgeable, and kind people who just wanted to help out others be driven out of the communities by toxic people. It’s quite sad because most people in these groups are good people, but as they say, “a few bad apples spoil the bunch.” Because of these toxic people in the groups, you have many people like myself who genuinely like helping others being driven out because it’s not worth it anymore.
Hopefully, you enjoyed my thoughts on this subject. Let me know what you think and what your experiences have been if you can relate at all. I’ll share my knowledge through my YouTube channels, where it’s much easier to keep the toxic people at bay.
PS: I am sure that if you mention my name in a Facebook group that I used to be in, you’ll get at least one person saying how much of an “asshole” I am. The fact of the matter is that most of these people tried to start problems with me and then got upset when I responded in kind.
Not everyone gets the same version of me. One person may tell you that I am very helpful, kind, and friendly. Another might tell you I’m a complete asshole. Believe them both. I don’t treat people badly, I treat them accordingly.