A Cautionary Tale About Arguing Via Social Media


Someone told me the following story who had no business telling me but it illustrates all too well how with the best of intentions, a well thoughtout strategy and implementation of someone’s Social Media Network can work against them.

An actor friend of this person had started up a friendship with with an office worker who occasionally worked as a part-time model and was a friend of a friend via Social Media – Facebook in this case.  The lady contacted the friend via Facebook and friendship quickly developed into something more.  They lived an hours train journey from each other and eventually decided to meet, as email, text messaging and telephone calls had proved there was something definitely there.

They met on a Monday, got on extremely well, so much so that there was no doubt that there was something more than just friendship.  To cut a long story short, by Wednesday the friend got an email from his lady saying that she doesn’t feel they are compatible.  The friend didn’t really believe this, based on what transpired between them the previous Monday.  Disappointed, he took the hit, advised the lady of his disappointment and began the process to move on.

Later that same evening, he put out an innocent message on Facebook (nothing connected to the lady,) saying he needed to take some time out from Facebook as he had things he needed to do.  Almost immediately, there was a comment on his Facebook Timeline, from the lady calling him a ‘Drama Queen’ and other putdowns.  The friend had more than enough and told her about her behaviour and where to get off.  Unfortunately this released the demon in the lady and what followed was a very ugly slanging match of the worse kind.  What the friend had forgotten was that his inital thread message, was put out on a public setting.  He always did that as most of his comments were either entertaining, thoughtful or just informative.  Unfortunately, this argument went right across the the global world of Facebook.  This was immensely damaging to him, as it was happening on his Timeline.  Not the lady’s but that didn’t stop her from threatening legal action as she was accusing him of disclosing personal information, while conveniently forgetting that she had also revealed a great deal of personal information about him.

Needless to say, it took him a great deal of time and days apologizing for what had transpired right across his Facebook Friendship List.  What was unusual was, that the vast overwhelming majority of the friendship didn’t make one single comment about what transpired.  Many of those who commented, had absolutely no connection to the friend whatsoever.  They were more voyeuristic if anything and didn’t add a great deal nor were they a solution to what was transpiring.  Only one female friend contacted him via text message ending their friendship of three years based on what she read in that thread.  This former friend had known him for three years.  He was there for her in her darkest hour but did she give him the same consideration?  Absolutely not!

Fortunately for the friend, his friendship list on Facebook has not seen a mass exodus,  In fact there has been an increase in friends in fact.

A couple of weeks lady, the friend finds that the lady has discovered he has a presence on Twitter so again tries to bait him into an argument.  He avoids this and on the advice of a friend in Vancouver Canada, blocks her and records her tweets as spam.  So far and to date, he has received no more attacks nor threats of legal action, for which there is no basis whatsover.

Listening to this story and probing with questions, I found that while the Facebook situation was bad, unhealthy and potentially damaging, if the friend had taken the bait when he was attacked via Twitter, the damage would have far more damaging and potentially would have had a seriously impact on his career for reasons I will now go into.

Facebook was and is self-contained.  If his status comment was on a friends only setting, then just the friendship would have been seen the thread in the news updates.  Unfortunately, not foreseeing an argument on an innocent status comment, he left it on a public setting.  Big mistake.  It went out globally via Facebook and as bad as that was , in was still possible to deal with the fallout and collateral damage.

Had he taken the bait when it came his way via the lady on Twitter, a hole would have been dug so deep, that he could never have climbed out from it.  Simply because the friend has a presence on numerous social media websites and nearly every single one, including his Blog, carries uptdates from his Twitter account.  So sites like LinkedIn, The Internet Movie Database (IMDB), would show his tweets but they would only show his tweets no dialogue between him and anyone else.  If an ugly argument had ensued as it had on Facebook, then only his responses would have been seen all over his Social Media Network.  The lady’s tweets would not have been recorded as the SMN has been set up on to record his tweets, i.e. What he actually types into Twitter.  So whatever he says in response to the lady would have seriously done him irreparable damage and a situation he would not be so able to run away from.

My advice to the person who told me this story was to:-

  • Avoid any kind of personal conflict on Social Media  and if one doesn’t, ensure it is via email so you have a record of what was written.
  • If it starts to get ugly, try and stop it from going further.  If that doesn’t work, then delete the person and block them.
  • Ensure they have no access your profile anywhere else on any other social media website.
  • Most importanty: If you have built a Social Media Network (SMM) via linking and synching  various websites where you have a presence and one updates the other, especially via Twitter, then be very careful of what you write, more so if you write a blog that is linked into say a professional website such as LinkedIn for example.
  • And above all be careful with whom you share personal information with, especially if you main means of communication is Social Media (SM).

Fortunately for the friend, he was savvy enough to realise the game the lady was playing by attacking him again via Twitter, given his tweets appear on numerous websites.

A cautionary tale about how damaging Social Media can be to one’s prospects, if a lover’s tiff is allowed to get out hand – In fact if any disagreement is allowed to get out of control.

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