When Fandom Becomes Toxic

You’ve probably seen the Tweets or read the articles. They describe the latest victim of over-zealous fans harassing a celebrity.

It’s unfortunate when this happens. Many people are passionate about many things and sometimes that passion leads to anger and resentment.

Social media, then, becomes an outlet for that anger. People may go from generally sharing their frustration to tagging an individual in their posts.

From there it may escalate to commenting directly on a celebrity’s posts. The posts become more and more spiteful as their attacks are ignored.

Finally, the person being harassed can take it no longer and leaves social media. The price of celebrity has finally taken its toll.

Social media gives fans and foes access to the people of our affection and anger like never before. It’s a tool that has enabled people to say and do unspeakable things.

It’s also given celebrities a platform to share vile comments with thousands of people instantly.

We all have a desire to feel wanted. We all want to share how we feel. Unfortunately, the 5-inch screens we use to communicate are impersonal.

Things we type on our smartphone would never be shared in “polite conversation”.

At the same time, our culture has to re-learn how to disagree. It is possible to disagree about something and still be polite. But that doesn’t get a reaction, does it?

Only the most extreme statements garner attention these days. Headlines and status updates have to grab viewers by the throat and drag them in.

The only possible solutions for some people are to either become just as gross and toxic as others or abandon social media completely.

People feel like the social media platforms are responsible for enabling this kind of behavior. While they may share a sliver of responsibility most of it lies with the individuals using it.

The toxicity that pervades social media is affecting the lives of our friends and family. What are we going to do about it?


Fight back?

Stick our heads in the sand?

Maybe we could become more purposeful in our use of social media.

Social media is a powerful tool. It is misused by many.

How do you use it?

You Can’t Win at Social Media

There’s a misconception among social media “experts” that’s been floating around the Internet for years. It’s the idea that there is a way to “win” at social media.

For some reason people think that if you reach some magic number of followers, likes, shares, or mentions you’ll “win”. You can’t.

Whichever platform you’re on will eventually disappear. Social media is a modern phenomenon and already dozens (if not hundreds) of platforms have come and gone.

If they haven’t disappeared yet, social networks are inundated with fake accounts and robots that are flooding the platform with useless and pointless content.

In order to escape the noise, people are moving toward private, one-on-one services that allow direct communication or groups of people that share similar interests.

Traffic generated from social networks to websites is down and social media “influence” is becoming a thing of the past. So is it time to give up on social media?

I don’t think so. I think it’s time to start using social media for its original purpose: to socialize.

We’ve taken a great tools for building friendships and transmogrified it into an advertising platform. Social networks have recognized that and it’s led to floods of “promoted content” aka advertisements.

I’m not saying to stop sharing content. On the contrary, we need to improve the quality of the content we share.

Let’s stop trying to game the system in order to attract traffic. There’s not a formula out there that will keep you ahead of all the algorithms.

Instead, let’s build relationships with one another. Then when we share an article we’ll be thinking of people who would want to read it rather than trying to build clout with people we don’t even know.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.