We all have our friends who we follow on social media who take full liberty to air out their griviences and opinions. We may get annoyed and we may just laugh while saying to ourselves “Oh man, here we go again.” These are the people we complain and make fun about.
So while I never lose sleep over the digital rants of those I know, I sometimes feel a little unsettled by those strangers who have the tendency to let loose with bizarre statements fueled by obsessive dedication.
I remember while working at the University of Montana, there was a certain person who would mix his strong beliefs and inappropriate language into awful Facebook comments. He would publish his garbage underneath our Facebook posts, many times not having anything to do with the featured content (this was an athletics page for crying out loud). I gave him a long leash before I finally blocked him. Just because I banned him from our Montana Grizzlies page didn’t mean I had seen the last of his Facebook mug, however.
I would frequently see his comments appear on unofficial Griz Facebook pages. I would also always see his filth on every social media account belonging to a local Missoula news outlet as well. What was up with this person? It went way beyond acting as a troll.
I wish I could say this was the only occurrence I have seen of this. Not even close. You don’t have to work in social media to see these Facebook crazies make their daily rounds on pages with large followings and high engagement. They rant, they spam, and they threaten.
Just this past summer, Myrtle Beach held a major country music festival. It was a massive event, one that was heavily covered by the local media. As it was the event’s first year, minor hiccups did occur. I observed one certain Facebook user, disgruntled over the festival’s high ticket price, ambush not just the festival’s Facebook page but every single page of our area’s various television outlets covering it. This particular lady, who didn’t even attend the festival, went on an absolute crusade creating long winded posts (copying and pasting many of them) that she plastered on all these different Facebook pages. The dialogue that ensued between her and users defending the festival always turned nasty.
I have too many examples to write about here, but you know exactly what I am talking about. The same questions probably run through your head that run through mine. Why are these people so angry? Why don’t they care about their reputation? Don’t they know that everyone can see their name/identity? Are they sane?
By the way, that last question is a legitimate one. Have you ever done what I have a hundred times and gone to the profiles of these folks? Their timeline is filled with rambling status updates, incredibly offensive memes, and photos of them flipping off the camera. After seeing the carnage they do on public Facebook pages I am always able to confirm their instability by checking their personal page and seeing the same trash. Defacing the digital presence of others shows that you are inconsiderate and rude. Making a joke out of your own digital presence shows that you are crazy.
I mentioned at the start of this post that these type of social media users make me feel uneasy. Can you see why? Not only do they have strong and polarizing views, they most likely also have a mental illness. What happens if these people ever do damage through other means besides just causing social media unrest? Now I know most of these people would never act in such a way but the thought does cross my mind.
The other day I was looking at a Facebook page for a Spokane news station. Under one of the posts I saw a vile comment. I had to look twice but it was completely obvious…the same person who terrorized social media accounts in Missoula was now spreading his “wisdom” to a new audience in a new town 200 miles to the west. How he still has a Facebook account is beyond me. These people are relentless. We have to balance between ignoring these people while at the same time keeping a watchful eye. Don’t Blink.