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Social Media and Negativity


I’ve been having a rough week. Maybe it just seems rougher than normal since I spent much of last week with my family celebrating Thanksgiving. But in any case, today I felt the need to tweet the following message:

Seriously, this week is suck on top of more suck. What gives, life?

Immediately, a bunch of my Twitter followers and friends tweeted back, asking what was wrong and offering to help in any way they could. It made me regret the initial message a little to be honest. There’s nothing anyone can do to help with the situations in my life right now. And really, it’s not that bad. I’m just having a grumpy week with a lot of roadblocks. There are people out there who are dealing with much worse situations.

Above all, I don’t want to be “that girl.”

You all know her (or him): That person on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ who is negative and upset all the time. Something is always wrong and life is always on the brink of ending. Even happy moments are laced with negativity. It’s not, “I’m having fun with my sister today!” It’s “I wish I could hang out with my sister more.” It’s not “I’m getting a promotion!” It’s “My boss is finally recognizing everything I do for this company.”

The great thing about social media is that I can choose to unfollow/unfriend someone if their tweets start to bring me down or annoy me because they’re so negative. And I usually do. It’s just not what I like to see every day.

But sometimes, I’m a negative nancy. I think we all are. When you’re having a down day, you have two choices:

  1. Vent on social media.
  2. Avoid social media until you’re feeling better.

I think there are pros and cons to both approaches.

Initially, I regretted my negative tweet. But then the ever-ingenious Pace Smith reminded me that it has a purpose:

@PaceSmith: On the one hand, Twitter’s a public forum & it’s unhelpful to vent in public. On the other hand, it’s where your friends are! And your friends want to be there for you.

It’s so true. Most of my friends are on Twitter, so it feels good to have their support – and they can’t support if they don’t know something is wrong. Negative tweets (that are still respectful of course) can also help you seem more “human.” People follow you on Twitter because they like you and the real you doesn’t live in a rainbow, sunshine, and unicorn world. At least not every day.

There’s something to be said for avoiding social media when you’re in a bad mood, though. This year, one of the overall concepts touched on by many speakers, including Lisa Barone, was that you don’t need to show every horrible part of yourself to be authentic.

People can only remember a few things about you. And, more importantly, that negative tweet will be the first thing some people see when they check out your profile. Even if you’re only negative one out of 1ooo tweets, that one could make a bad first impression for someone who chooses that moment to look for you online.

I think it boils down to your goals. If your goal is to use social media more casually, I think the occasional “venting” tweet is okay. Just don’t overdo things or you’ll come off as a miserable person. On the other hand, if your goal is to use social media more professionally, I think avoiding it when you have a bad day makes sense. You can still show your personality while keeping personal struggles to yourself.

What do you think? Do you ever use social media to vent or do you stay away when you’re in a bad mood?

How to Write a Rant that People Want to Read


We all rant sometimes.

Some of us do it online for the world to see. Some of us do it in the privacy of our friends and family. But the fact of the matter is that everyone gets emotionally angry from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with it. If you’re compelled to blog when you’re in a rant-y mood, though, I think it is important to make sure you’re engaging your community, not driving them away as you flick them the middle finger. Rants can be awesome for traffic, but there can also be a fall out. If you’re going to rant, make sure you write something people actually want to read. Here’s how:

Actions versus People

When you write a general rant about an individual or even a group, you look like a big meanie. You don’t have to agree with every single person out there, but most rants about people come off as attacks, not lively debates. Personally, I just don’t think there are many reasons you should burn those bridges. If you wouldn’t be comfortable standing up on the BlogWorld stages and yelling,  “So-and-so is a jerk!” don’t say it online either. If you don’t agree with someone, don’t be shy about your opinions…but save the rants instead for actions.

It’s true – when you rant about actions, you typically have someone in mind. And I definitely encourage people to name names when blogging about someone. However, there’s a difference between saying that you don’t like someone’s actions and that you don’t like someone period.

When you talk about actions, it also makes it easier for your readers to relate. They probably have been annoyed by the same actions by other people, even if they don’t know the person you’re ranting about. It also makes it easier to open up the topic for debate. If you rant about a person and one of your readers disagrees with you, they might stay silent for fear of being attacked as well. When you’re ranting about an action instead, readers can more easily inject their opinion without as much worry that you (or your community) will turn on them just for disagreeing.

“Duh” Rants

Sometimes, I read what is supposed to be a passionate rant and at the end, the only thing I can think is, “Well duh…”

There are certain things everyone hates. These topics are the constant content of blog rants, but when you aren’t really adding anything new to the conversation, what is the point? It’s your blog, of course, and if you need to get something off your chest, do it. Just be cautious as to how much of your content is self-serving versus how much is actually interesting to readers. Keep the ratio in check.

Bringing Attention to a Company

The best rants, in my opinion, are those that don’t attack a person or even an action, but rather a company;s policies. As consumers, I think it is our duty to point out when a company is doing a crap job. Rants help other customers know that their experience wasn’t isolated and you get the added benefit of warning others before they spend their hard-earned dollars.

When ranting about a company, however, make sure you’re fair. If you’re going to rant about a company’s customer service, for example, talk to at least two people – one bad employee is a mistake, but two in a row is rarely a coincidence. Or, if you order a product and it arrives broken, send an email and allow the company to respond, sending you a new one or refunding your money. In other words, before you rant, allow the company to correct the problem. Everyone makes mistakes, and I don’t think it’s fair or intelligent to rant over an isolated incident that the company is happy to correct.

And always remember that there are real people behind businesses. Whatever you’re ranting about is someone’s fault, and there’s a good chance that they’ll read your blog post, especially if it gets popular. Again, it goes back to attacking actions, not people.

In-the-Moment Emotion

When something ticks you off, it’s easy to feel emotional. I call it in-the-moment emotion – fleeting feelings of frustration that are often blown way out of proportion. Now is a great time to write about something because your post will be filled with passion. It’s not such a great time to hit the publish button.

If you’ll calm down after an hour, will you regret whatever you just wrote? Remember, once something is out there online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the post, it is still out there. So, give it at least an hour before you publish your rant, and if the material isn’t time-sensitive, give it at least 24 hours.

Something else to consider – how angry is your post in terms of word choice? Last week at #BWEchat, we talked to Jason Falls and Marcus Sheridan about cursing in blog posts and on social media. Whether you’re for or against, I think we can all agree that when we’re mad about something, the language can sometimes be a little stronger than we otherwise have on our blog. This can be part of what makes a rant great. Can be. If you go overboard, the language you use could turn off your readers, even if they were initially interested in your rant and agree with you. When you calm down a little, you can reread your rant to make sure the language is refined. That doesn’t mean you have to take out the sailor language – it just means that you can clearly decide what words you really want to use.

Logic Rules All

Lastly, make sure that your post is logical. I hate reading rants when I don’t know the back story and can’t figure out why the person is so mad. Even though rants are emotional, they should also make sence. Give me a compelling argument so I feel as emotionally connected to the story as you do. Now is not the time to be brief. I want the full story, including details.

In most cases, I personally think that it also makes sense for you to add “solutions” as part of your rant. What could have been done differently? What can be done now to help ease your pain? How can others avoid finding themselves in the same situation? No one ever said a rant can’t be helpful.

And be prepared. Most rants drive traffic, so people are going to respond, either on your site or off. If your post is logically sound, it shouldn’t be hard to debate with your readers.

Have you ever ranted on your blog? Was the result good or bad? What’s the best rant you’ve ever read from another blogger?

Overheard on #Blogchat: Haters (@EGlue)


Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Open mic night!

As many of you may already know, in addition to working here at the BlogWorld blog and running my freelance writing blog, I also serve as site manager for Binge Gamer, a video game blog I founded with my best friend a few years ago. The video game community is not…nice. And that’s an understatement. Even if you write a post that is straight news, containing no opinion at all, you’ll likely get called an idiot by someone in the comments, or two+ of the commenters will start attacking one another. That’s just the nature of this niche.

But that’s not every niche. In fact, that’s not most niches. Most communities are inherently positive, so it can feel jarring when you get a negative comment on  your site. I actually feel kind of lucky that one of my first major blog projects taught me to have a thick skin.

One of the participants at this week’s #blogchat spoke a bit about this topic:

@EGlue: Whatever you do, you can’t make everyone happy. If you got a hater or two, you’re probably doing something right.

Easy enough to say, but I also definitely understand why some people get upset when a hater starts leaving comments. We put a lot of work into our blogs, to the point where they feel like our children. If someone doesn’t like our child, that’s anger-inducing…but when someone makes fun of our child? Well, I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to lash out right back.

It pays to remember what @EGlue mentioned – if someone is hating on you for some reason, it’s probably an indication that you’re doing a good job with your blog in general. People may not like a certain post you write or a certain decision you make for your blog, but they feel connected enough that they have to leave a comment. You want your community to feel so invested in your blog that they leave emotional comments when they don’t like someone. If you’re community’s reaction is, “Meh,” that’s probably an indication that you’re not doing a very good job connecting with them.

And remember too, there’s a difference between a hater and a troll. A hater might hate you, but they make valid points or actually have something to say, even though it might come out in a not-so-nice way. A troll, on the other hand, is just trying to piss you off (or piss off another commenter). They don’t actually care about your blog, your community, or even, in many cases, the topic. Haters warrant a response, though do so tactfully. Trolls rarely warrant a response and sometimes even warrant being deleted, depending on their comments and your blog’s policies.

The bottom line? Although negativity often hurts, try to find the constructive criticism in it and remember that just because someone has a different opinion doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong as a blogger. Work on building up that thick skin and keep moving forward.

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