The best thing about the internet is its ability to connect people. The worst thing about the internet is that it can also tear us apart.
One of the things people say about me is that I’ve never met a stranger. I’ve always liked people. I’m a bit of an extrovert. I like shaking hands and meeting new people. Yes, I’m that guy in the seat next to you on an airplane that will strike up a conversation. If you reply with one-word answers, I’ll get the hint. If you turn away and stare at your phone, I’ll move along. If you shake my hand, look me in the eye, and engage in conversation, I’ll return the courtesy.
These subtle clues that we get in face-to-face interactions are missing on the web. Perhaps it’s the biggest reason why some people feel entitled to disrespect others in the relative anonymity of their basements.
Trolls, keyboard warriors, and other misanthropes have made social media particularly unbearable. For years, we’ve advised clients to just simply delete the “haters” on social media accounts and not engage. But recently, I began experimenting with a new strategy for social media gaslighters — “Trolling The Trolls.”
Since opening a new location of the Texas Inn in Harrisonburg, the vast majority of folks in “the friendly city” have been VERY friendly. A small number of them have not been so nice online. We have been trolled by “Tiffany” for not having enough vegan options. We have been lambasted by “Laura” for not accepting reservations. (Sorry, we’re a diner.) After landing in Harrisonburg, “John” greeted us with, “Great! Heart disease continues onward and upward.”
So, I decided to troll the trolls. It was epic. This tactic may not be for everyone, but calling out keyboard warriors (as opposed to hiding from them) may be a good thing. Nothing stops a bully like getting a taste of their own medicine. And as you can see from the responses, our customers enjoyed the comeback…and they’ve come back over and over.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to take comments from your customers into consideration and respond appropriately. Oftentimes, a customer has a legitimate criticism and you should welcome that and take steps to correct it, but for those who are just plain rude, sometimes the best option is to poke a little fun at them.