Recently, I had to temporarily shut down one of my Facebook pages. There were two residents arguing back and forth so heatedly that other residents called the leasing office to complain. Looking at the comments, I was surprised neighbors could get so openly hostile with each other. I don’t imagine they’d speak to each other like that in real life (or IRL if we’re using online terminology).
This has always fascinated me. WTH! (What the heck! Again using online terminology.) Why do people argue with strangers online? And why do they say the things they say? What satisfaction can they possibly get from it? I put this question to a few friends and colleagues who deal with social media.
The general consensus is the anonymity of the internet gives us the freedom to “say” all the not-so-nice thoughts we normally filter and keep inside our heads. (They were a little more blunt as to why, but we’ll keep it PG-13 here.) There are actually studies that can predict 80% of the time who will end up being a “troll” (one who starts arguments online) as they’re called. There is a specific pattern to how they develop, and how people react to them.
Ok, that’s Interesting, but still how does anyone decide to start arguing on the Facebook page of the community where they live? And how do we stop it?
If it’s something posted on your page, you can delete it. If it’s a review however, or in the comments of a review, unless you get Facebook to delete it, you’re stuck with it. If you know who the players are, you can invite them offline to talk with you. Invite other happy residents to post positive reviews in order to drown out that negative noise.
If you’re reading something and find yourself getting upset, the worst, absolute worst thing you can do is to reply. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Sometimes, it’s so tempting. Someone says something completely inflammatory like toilet paper should go down the back side instead of over the top and the front. Everyone knows how ridiculous that is. But you get to choose. Do you fight to the death over it online or do you just ignore it. The logical part of the brain realizes how ridiculous this is (and of course how incredibly wrong they are), but the passionate rolling-the-toilet-paper-over-the-top side of you is infuriated! How dare they?!
Before you give them a piece of your (unfiltered) mind, take a step back. Count to ten (or 10,000) and realize it’s not important. (But they’re wrong!) No, it’s not important. This can apply to anyone; you, your team reading horrible reviews about their community, your residents.
If we all just tried a little harder to get along, the internet would be a kinder, gentler (albeit maybe a skootch more boring) place.