This post is the forty-fourth part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series can be found on the series landing page.
This post is about responding to outrageous opposition.
As I stated in Love Your Enemies, opposition is a clue. Does that mean all opposition is good or can be put to good use? Nope. Some of it is troll-ish noise. How can you tell the difference between someone who is competing with you and someone capable of dangerous and destructive behavior and actions against you or your enterprise? Hindsight is unfortunately the only definite answer. I wish there were better ways to discern between those who will merely oppose your art or work and those who will purposefully engage in activities designed to impede or destroy it.
I have noticed the following about individuals who behave destructively:
- You are probably not their first. There’s a good chance an individual bent on destructive activities has behaved this way in the past. In an age of ever-increasing transparency, these folks leave a trail.
- Lord knows what motivates them to behave in this manner but they are, thankfully, a tiny minority. This makes identifying them easier – especially in social media circles. Start by identifying the beginning of destructive behavior and then see who became emotionally charged just prior. This represents a sample of potential culprits. Repeated and spread across several incidents, an ever-narrowing pattern emerges. In many social media communities, two incidents is often enough to isolate an individual attempting anonymous activity.
- Their destructive efforts usually come to naught. Visibility of their efforts is their greatest ally and their Achilles heel. Become too visible and they’re exposed; not visible enough and no one notices. Destructive behavior is the Ebola virus of social media communities, damaging the carriers before more serious harm can be done.
So how does one respond effectively to trolls? Ignore them. Again, we don’t know the motivation; but anyone who’s been around a five-year-old-who-isn’t-getting-their-way understands the goal is attention. If they don’t get attention from you, they will move on.