Having spent any amount of time on social media, you are sure to have encountered many different personalities. People who are fairly normal functioning members of society in real life can take on entirely new personalities from behind the “mask” of their profile identity. This often leads to them interacting with in a way they would never do face-to-face.
While social media offers a great opportunity for people to open up, get real and support one another, it can sometimes allow us to be judgmental, critical and overly cruel to one another. So what are some of the common social media personalities that come out of the wood work? And what is the best way to deal with them? Here is a look at 10 common communication styles we can find on social media every day…
Nickname: The Angry Troll
What they do: This social media personality is one we have all likely encountered. He or she is truly a “troll” in all sense of the word, scrolling through highly interactive social media accounts (like brands’ or celebrities’) and spitting out mean and offensive comments that are totally uncalled for. Likely this person would never say such things to someone’s face, but behind the mask of social media, they feel they can displace all their anger and insecurities upon someone who never invited such ridicule.
How to handle them: Use your judgement here. If the comments use profanity or are extremely offensive, report them! Otherwise, let social media karma have its way. It’s not smart to engage in an argument with an Angry Troll or you will surely become the next target. There are only “losers” in this game.
Nickname: The Pot Stirrer
What they do: This social media personality is somewhat like a troll in that they intend to create mean and unjust comments, but prefer to have someone else stoop to that level. So, they stir the pot with a snide, but craftily innocent-appearing comment that causes other people to jump on the negative bandwagon. Meanwhile, they sit back and enjoy the fire they just started.
How to handle them: Steer the comments in a new direction to stifle the effects of the pot stirring. Ask a new question or offer a positive comment that will trigger others to focus on this direction rather than the potentially negative direction of the Pot Stirrer.
Nickname: The Inappropriate Tagger
What they do: Often this social media personality is “new to the game” and doesn’t quite grasp the social norms of how to use features like tagging. This results in awkward and embarrassing tags where you are linked to a post, photo or video of something you would never personally choose to share with your network. For example, your Great Aunt tags you (and her entire friend list) in a video of a cat dancing in a clown costume. Thanks! Just what I wanted my potential clients to associate me with.
How to handle them: You can discretely untag yourself from posts you don’t want showing up on your page. If they keep adding you to Facebook groups that you don’t want to be a part of, you can also leave the group and request to not be added back. Keep a kind heart, as this person often doesn’t realize that what they’re doing is annoying you.
Nickname: The (Not So) Private Investigator
What they do: This social media personality is shamelessly curious about your life and not one bit discrete about it. They will spend a creepy amount of time surfing through all your photos from as far back as those college days (you knew you should have deleted those albums). But instead of silently snooping they will leave an obvious trail of breadcrumbs by “liking” random photos along the way. Bold, unaware or both?
How to handle them: Unless their comments are inappropriate, there’s not much you can do. If you’d prefer them not to be able to sift through your history, take control of your privacy settings to limit their access to your profile. But note, if they are used to having unlimited access, they will surely notice getting shut out and you may need to offer an answer why if confronted.
Nickname: The Overly Personal Acquaintance
What they do: You likely accepted this person’s friend request because you felt bad for them or guilty because they look familiar, but you just can’t recall from where. In return, this moment of weakness forever penalizes you with a new “virtual best friend” that is the first to like and comment on anything you post, especially personal stuff. Like, dude, sharing my engagement announcement doesn’t mean you’ll be invited to the wedding.
How to handle them: Be sure to acknowledge them, because your social media relationship obviously means a lot. So long as they are supportive and positive, who doesn’t want a cheerleader? If they enjoy your social media life this much, maybe there’s a real-life budding friendship there.
Nickname: The Self-Appointed Judge
What they do: Like the Angry Troll, this social media personality feels like they have the ultimate responsibility of passing judgement on anything posted by a brand or celebrity. Go ahead and call out your disapproval of Beyonce’s latest shoe choice. Based upon your own profile, it’s pretty obvious that jealousy and insecurity (or just plain mean-spiritedness) is the real driving force here.
How to handle them: Offer only a positive reply that doesn’t’ acknowledge the dig, but focuses on something nice and encouraging. You will never “win” a case against a social media Judge, so let it hang in the balance.
Nickname: The Self-Appointed Defender
What they do: To counter act the Self-Appointed Judge, the Self-Appointed Defender has also emerged as a common social media personality. This person quickly “comes to the rescue” of anyone who is being unfairly put down. Don’t get me wrong, this is a refreshingly good personality to have on your side! However, it can be a bit awkward when they act like they personally know the celebrity or brand they are defending on a deep (very deep) level. Now you’re wondering just how far they’ll go to see that “justice is served.”
How to handle them: Play the peacekeeper and acknowledge both sides of the Judge and the Defender. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but also thank the Defender for being positive.
Nickname: The Irrelevant Commenter
What they do: This type of social media personality just so badly wants to be a part of the party as quickly as possible, they get a little trigger happy. For example, they jump into a long stream of comments about the latest presidential debate with something like “Yeah and I mean unless we start using the metric system, we’re all screwed anyways.” (Insert “confused look” meme from all other commenters.) A for effort doesn’t even apply here, because had they taken any effort at all to read the original post or the other comments, they would surely realize how far off base they were. Way to kill a good comment flow!
How to handle them: Try and guide the conversation back to the original point through your own comment. If at all possible, connect the dots for the Irrelevant Commenter with what you think they could have meant. Kindness always wins on social media!
Nickname: The Anti-Grammarist
What they do: The United States education system has either miserably failed this person or they cleverly bypassed all English classes without learning the difference between too, to and two. This social media personality really makes you question the average education level. Most social media sites will kindly alert you to misspelled words with a red squiggly line. So they have either blatantly ignored this cue or have absolutely no idea what’s incorrect about using “defiantly” instead of “differently.”
How to handle them: There’s really never a kind and polite way to correct someone else’s grammar on social media without looking like a control freak. Use it as a lesson in refreshing your own grammar and correct the sentence with your mental red pen.
Nickname: The Silent Observer
What they do: This final social media personality is likely a close friend or relative that you talk with outside of social media on a regular basis. You’ve noticed that they never interact with any of your posts (even major life announcements) and just figure they don’t login that often (yes, these people do exist). However, whenever you see them next, they mention everything you ever posted on social media in great detail. Now you’re left wondering whether they secretly hate you on social media or if they really don’t understand that the concept is to interact with people, not just silently observe their lives.
How to handle them: This is a completely harmless social media personality. Sure it may be a pet peeve that will irk you a bit from time to time, but enjoy that they do keep up with your life and remember the important details well enough to talk about them with you the next time you are together.
What are some of the difficult social media personalities you have encountered? How have you learned to effectively communicate with them? Share your thoughts by commenting below!