I’m 4’8″ and I have a fear of heights so when I step up onto a soapbox about something, I feel pretty passionately about it. Such is the case with bullying – both online and offline.
As a young child, an adolescent and even into my late twenties, I dealt with a bully. In fact, ten years ago, my story was featured in a book called Friendfluence. I seriously can’t imagine how bad it would have been for me if social media existed through my teen years.
We’ve seen bullies on social for years. And I’m not talking about teenagers. In fact, today, in many cases, teens are better at living online than adults are. The constant rudeness and belittling is sometimes just too much to take. I see it on my beloved Peloton Facebook page, even. The Peloton community can be such a happy place, but if you get on the wrong page… be careful asking a simple question. The longtime, snarky users will come out and basically punch you in the face.
News posts, as most of us know, are just horrible in the comments, especially as we are about to hold an election. Emotions are high, tension is strong, sometimes it can be too much.
But here’s the thing… bullying has crept its way back into the offline world. Within just the past few months, I’ve felt it twice as a business owner.
A few months ago I had a client tell me how to bill him…. that we should be billing by “post” and not by time. That’s just not how we do things. And as the business owner, it’s within my right to determine how to bill, isn’t it? When I meet with clients we go through this, but in a nutshell: we do more than “post.” We engage, we converse, we build rapport by commenting on others’ posts. And let’s not forget the time it takes to create those posts. The act of publishing on a company’s feed (no matter which social platform) is not what takes the time. So to bill based on number of posts…well, it’s just not how we do what we do.
This morning we sent a late notice to a client. The client wrote back and said the new owner has 45-day terms. But our contract says we have 30-day terms and our invoice says it is due in 30 days. So I wish I could understand why the big company gets to determine when they pay our bills. It feels like being smushed.
A few years ago I had a client who was assessed a late fee for being well over a month late on payment tell us “well I meant to pay it, so please remove the late fee.” We didn’t. I’m not sure the electric company would accept a “but I meant to” excuse. Neither do we.
And now we’re in the age of Elon Musk on Twitter. Do I wake up in a panic over how this will affect my business? You bet I do. I know several celebrities have pulled their presence on the platform. We’ve not yet done that. Nor have we stopped pitching Twitter for clients. But I do think we need to be cautious over the next few months and see how this all plays out. I’m not sure I’m willing to put a small-business client into the crosshairs of Twitter and all the negativity. But will things level out post-election? Maybe. But have I already requested a new account on Mastodon? You bet I did.
With an election tomorrow, can I just ask everyone to take a deep breath? To not engage in negative commenting, to be kind to people, to remind yourself that yelling at someone you don’t know online does nothing but raise everyone’s blood pressure?
I remember when I first got into this business. There was so much happiness online. People shared fun memes and silly jokes. Maybe that’s why so many enjoy the entertainment aspect of TikTok (I know I do). My homework for you. If you’re going to post something on social today, make it something happy. Find something fun. Share it with the world. Put something out there that makes people smile. We could all use it today.
I’ll go first. Check out Elyse Myers on TikTok. She’s a podcaster but more than that she’s just a real person. Her stories are so funny and so relatable. Last week she learned a new TikTok dance and some celebrities actually got involved. You just have to watch and enjoy yourself. But also be sure you find her story about the pants she wore to an event. She’s worth every second.