Do Not Feed The Twitter Trolls

One of the ironies of Twitter is that when you start out you have more time to give to the people in your network. Why? Because it’s smaller. But because it’s small, you get less engagement. Less questions. Less demands on your time.

As your following grows, and especially when you breach your tipping point, you get more engagement. More questions. More demands. Subsequently, you have less time to give.

You have to prioritise. But how? And with whom?

Your Twitter network grows exponentially with the time you invest. Unless you’re intentionally applying some resistance (which includes behaving like a jerk), the longer you’re there, and the more effort you put in, the larger it becomes. A bigger network means more people. More people means more engagement and more communication, which means a bigger demand on your time.

A bigger network also means more kinds of people. As social networks expand and begin to reflect ‘real life’, they start to attract all the fringe elements of society, too.

You know: morons.

On any social network, like every other community in life, you will encounter people who you can never do enough for. No matter how much you give, no matter how much of your time you invest, they will never be happy. They will always want more. They will always complain, and they will always think you are the problem.

All of these things have a huge impact on your resources. And your energy. Time is finite, and if it’s being drained in one area (particularly if it’s waste), by definition it means you have less to invest everywhere else. Not only that, but the nature of these anti-social relationships will likely have an impact on how you behave with everybody else. You may become edgy, or angry. Even scared.

We all have a built-in alarm system that often goes haywire during our early interactions with these folks. A Spidey-sense, if you will. It’s there for a reason, and it pays to fine-tune it. Be polite, be civil, and be helpful… up to a point. Recognise when you’re being dragged into a void of time-suckage. If you don’t have a limit, you’re always going to have those who try to take advantage of you. These individuals will (usually) only make up a very small percentage of your network, but they’re persistent and demanding enough to give the impression that they’re all of it.

Reality check:

  1. Some people are rude
  2. Some people are never happy
  3. Some people are good, old-fashioned weirdos

Bottom line: a troll is a troll is a troll.

The good news? Most people are fundamentally decent, and this is certainly my experience on Twitter. But a small but tenacious minority have always plagued the internet, particularly when it comes to any kind of information-based network, or chat room. Twitter is essentially both. Like dodgy avatars and questionable ethics, they are an inevitability.

Eventually, you have to make a decision. You have to learn to say ‘no’. And if that doesn’t work, you have to take more drastic measures. Ignore them. Block them. Report them. I promise you: eventually they do go away.

There’s only so much time that anybody can give. Doesn’t it make sense to ensure that you’re giving it to the right people?

(Image credit: Arcady via Shutterstock.)

Publish date: October 15, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT