About a week ago, I posited what I thought was a fairly innocuous question on LinkedIn:
It got a few interesting responses, which was great; I was, after all, asking a question. That was about a week ago.
Suddenly, over this past weekend, the number of views had crossed 10,000.
Oh my, I thought to myself. I guess this is hitting a chord with a lot of people.
Little did I know just how much.
Because, at the time of this writing, that innocuous question has garnered more than 50,000 views, close to 200 comments, and …
… a LOT of negativity thrown my way.
Including a death threat.
That’s right. A death threat. (I reported this to LinkedIn and it was immediately removed.)
It’s never pleasant to watch an internet pile-up, whether it happens to a stranger, a celebrity, a friend, or a family member … and it is unnerving, unsettling, and downright scary when it happens to you.
There are any number of passive-aggressive comments; quite a few out-and-out chauvinistic remarks; and while several people agree with my viewpoint, the haters and trolls have made me question whether or not I should delete the post entirely.
As I type this, I recognize the irony of that sentence. Because that is exactly what we’d counsel clients in the throes of a crisis not to do.
But tell you what, when it happens to you – on your personal page, no less – you just want it to go away.
I believe I’m entitled to voice my own opinion on my own LinkedIn page.
Just like I believe they are entitled to their opinion, and should be able to express it freely.
There’s one big difference, though, between my original post, and some of the rude, insulting and downright mean responses.
When “expressing your opinion” means you start to denigrate others, use profanity, and maybe even threaten their safety … that is NOT cool.
That is not “expressing your opinion.”
That is cyberbullying.
I’ve spent much of the last few days replying as thoughtfully as I can, to as many people as I can. In many instances, they realize what my original intent was, and acknowledge that.
But at this point, it seems the haters are gonna hate.
So I’m not going to comment on that post anymore.
This is my response:
I stand by my original update, which was a simple question about something that is commonly acknowledged as a best practice in networking, building relationships, and social media.
The best sales people in the world will tell you that “networking” isn’t just about gathering business cards at an event and then adding those contacts to your email list, which is essentially what one is doing when blanket-connecting on LinkedIn (or any social network).
That is not a network. That is a bunch of loose connections on social media, which are simply building your Rolodex.
And your Rolodex, by itself, isn’t going to get you a job.
True “networking” is taking the time to initiate, nurture, and develop relationships. And true relationships are built over time through mutual respect, connections, and trust.
That’s what I’ve done in the past, and that’s what I will continue to do.
I was going to reply something snarky about how I’m homeless now because you didn’t give me a rec for a job but it looks like this whole thing went sideways on you. Interesting however as there are a lot of trolls and the semi-anonymity of the internet removes all filters. I’m just playing around in my local mountain biking FB page these days, all the people think I’m hilarious….no, really….:).
Hope all is well and maybe one of these days we will cross paths again; take care.
Bill Dorman CPCU, CIC, AAI Principal Producer T: (863) 284-3109 | M: (863) 660-4467
LOL, so great to see you here, Bill!
Yes, it was really bizarre. Very scary. I’m really grateful for all the support I received (and which I still do).
I hope you are well too, my friend – and yes, hopefully we’ll see each IRL soon!
Caught this when I was out of town, waited until I could really read and comment. Here, w/out the rabble. So here goes: What the actual blankety bleeping blank?!
Never mind that I 127% agree w/ you on 1) the rude, not for me job requests and while we’re at 2) the sales pitches that are nothing but spam (I report EVERY DM now that’s a pitch or ebook or seminar ad, esp from random connection)… it’s YOUR page. It’s a discussion and YOU are going to SM as you choose, i/e getting to know people first.
FWIW it’s why I don’t connect w/ just anyone, why I’m not as ‘social’ as I once was. It seems it’s ‘WIIFM’ taken to a new level of self interest that’s simply not for me. Hang in there.
And then *I* was out of town … so I’m only just now getting here!
I know. Thank you, my friend. I appreciate it so much. xo
Cyber bullying is always wrong.
Howeverr, your question was not simple. It carried a complex emotional payload (hint: you used the word “always”) and that gets people who think with their amygdlas and (not their frontal lobes) going
Actually I didn’t use the word “always,” Jennifer. I used the word “immediately,” and that is my experience *with people I don’t know.* So it does seem like a pretty simple question to me, one borne from my experience, which I’m entitled to ask. It may not be an “easy” one to answer … but it’s not complex.
Sorry this happened to you! Who knows what sparks people to be so cruel, and on LinkedIn? I’m surprised. Glad you’re rising above it and speaking out about it. We shouldn’t be afraid to assert our opinions.
Thank you, Laura! I honestly don’t know. I’m still wondering about it.
I missed your original question and I”m sorry it got ugly. At least with LinkedIn the responses aren’t anonymous. I just wish LI had a search function so, if I am looking at someone’s profile, I can also see their comments–and decide if I want to help them or not! That might make the trolls think twice.
As one who has been on both sides of the networking conundrum, it is ideal to develop contacts before you need them. But we know how crazy life gets, and how 60-hour weeks suddenly seem essential if you fear losing your job. Then suddenly you have lots of free time (as in laid off) and you realize your social media profiles are two years old. However, there are more subtle ways of letting people know you need assistance than “HELP!”
The majority of us will continue to act with kindness and compassion.
A search function for an LI profile is a great idea, Cheryl. I wonder if they have considered that before …
That’s a terrible experience. I am sorry that happened. I stand with your original sentiment though. What’s up with people essentially cold-calling you for recommendations? I also stand with you against cyber bullying. People who disagree should simply keep scrolling, or maybe leave a thoughtful response or argument that counters yours, so as to have a conversation.
Anyway, keep your chin up and keep doing great things. You have lots of allies!
Oh Carl, it’s so cool of you to stop by – thank you! And for the kind comments.
All this has actually been making me think of a few things that I would love to test with a research firm … like the make-up of online trolls as spliced and diced in various ways. Because I think if we could come up with a tested and reliable model as to the *kinds* of people who do this, that information could be hugely valuable to companies and people in general.
Btw – how is the swing dancing going? I *so* need to get back!
I see people within my network on LinkedIn ask this question often. However, I have not seen them receive death threats or inappropriate comments (or maybe they were deleted too quickly to notice). I was shocked to read about the experience you have had and am so sorry that this has caused you to consider deleting the post. My view is that, no matter the social channel, there will always be trolls. I have no answer on how to avoid running across them in posts because social media, by nature, allows posts to reach beyond your initial 1st degree connections.
My experience with LinkedIn has been mostly positive, but I can surely understand users’ frustration with the sales calls. I don’t mind connecting with people for the purposes of job searches, but my main beef is with the “sales” connections that have no reason to connect other than selling me something that usually is totally unrelated to my job and/or industry. This is my only major gripe.
Enough social rambling. Good job on your responses and I hope this experience does not sway you not to post in the future.
I know, the death threat thing was crazy – I NEVER expected to see that on LinkedIn… it’s more the kind of thing you’d expect to see on Reddit.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by, Scott. No, it won’t stop me from posting in the future. :) In a way, it’s a good thing this happened; it taught me how to have an even thicker skin, though let’s hope I don’t turn into an elephant!
So sorry this happened to you! Keep your head up and press on.
First rule of social media…never feed the trolls.
So true Mads!!! I did respond as much as I could, to as many as I could, for as long as I could. When it became clear they were out with pitchforks, I realized there was no point in carrying on.
I think that honestly people still believe in people & are reaching through LinkedIn to others knowing there is still more good in the world than bad & knowing we will help each other out if we can. There is a bigger picture than just networking & it’s a cry for help in a tough world & economy. I help everyone I can weather it be resume advice or directly connecting people. It’s not just about networking but helping one another.
Tabetha, I appreciate you stopping by. *I* still believe in people, otherwise I wouldn’t do what I do. I would like to think that most of the human race still does.
I’m curious: if/when you get such a message – a message from someone you don’t know, have never interacted with, know nothing about, have neither any back story nor any information as to what specifically they’re looking for, nor what their skill-set is – how specifically do you go about helping them?
I’ve had employees whom I’ve assisted in (ahem) moving on, want to Link. I just stare at my screen wanting to know why?? Only thing I can think of is that they want their profile to show association with someone at a high ranking institution. I just dismiss.
Really? So all the while they were your employees, they didn’t want to connect, but once they “moved on” as you so eloquently put it, they wanted to connect?
OMGosh how awful! I have LOTS of adjectives and expletives in my mind (for the morons who dissed you) but I’ll keep them to myself. ;)
You’ll have to share them with me privately, Tressa. :) xoxo
As LinkedIn becomes more and more like Facebook, I fear the same type of behavior will migrate and this is a prime example. Your question is absolutely right. At least take the time to PRETEND like you want to know me before asking me for a favor!
As for the trolls (I’m trying to be kind here), I feel like #ragetyping for you. It’s like the entire internet community needs to take an etiquette class before being allowed in front of a keyboard.
That might be one of my most fave hashtags ever. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support, Matt. xoxox
I agree with you Shonali. As someone who recently went thought I job search I sympathize with people who are looking, and in some cases may feel desperate in their search. But asking a stranger to help with a job search on the first interaction is like asking someone to marry you on the first date. Sure, occasionally love-at-first-sight can happen but for most of us who take our professional reputations and networks seriously, we need to at least get to know you before we will feel invested in helping out. In any case, no matter how much people may disagree with you – or me for that matter – there is no excuse, or call for threats or personal attacks. Oh, and by the way, engaging in those actions is never going to get anyone on your side to help you with your job search, or anything else.
So true, John. One of the things that struck me was that all the people who were yelling at me to “go to Facebook!!!” were behaving as if it WAS Facebook … or worse, Reddit!
Civility, sadly, is a vanishing breed. I’m more of a lurker on LinkedIn than an active participant, but jeez, a death threat in response to what was really a pretty benign post of yours? As a certain president might say, “Sad!”
LOLOL!!! I might start having to tweet like that … at 3 a.m. ;)
Don’t let the turkeys get you down, Shonali! I can’t believe such a relatively innocuous mini-rant caused such a kerfluffle. Hang in there!
Aww, Ro!!! I know, me neither! I’m feeling much better today. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by – I think of you often even though we haven’t talked in a while!!! xoxo