No news is good news, and bad news abounds. Jumping on a bandwagon of negative commentary is as easy as pressing Enter, but more often than not, I find that if you want your position to be taken seriously, you need to drop the sarcasm and get real. The next time that bad news comes for your competitor or opponent, think thrice before you post.
What words are you using?
Is your criticism constructive or are you simply piling onto the misery of others? Even a well intended critique can turn nasty with a few harsh words. For example: one phrase that gets a lot of mileage is “this sucks”, but with everyone having a different threshold of suckitude, it adds no actual value. Or take ‘hate” – so many people hate so many things these days, like many other shock words it is practically meaningless as well. Or as Amber Naslund notes, one of the more recent trends in taunting is the over-use of the #FAIL tag.
Unless you are trying to provoke a flame war, try to avoid the broad brush insults and make the harshness of the words match the severity of the situation.
Who you are REALLY writing to?
It seems especially prevalent in politics that the defeats of one side are undeservedly taken as a victory for the other, and the “celebratory” comments of derision soon start to pile on. More often than not, this is nothing more than the ego stroking of individuals who are looking for any justification to have their bias against the other affirmed. They are not interested in adding to the conversation or hoping that next time things will be better, they just like to beat someone down to raise themselves up in their own esteem.
Before you hit Send, try think about if anyone besides yourself will actually benefit from your comments.
What outcome you are looking for?
Social media networks give everyone a stage, but how do you want your audience to feel after your performance? While some of your supporters may like it when you take shots at the competition, others will find this unseemly and would rather you tend to the beam in your own eye than the mote in your brother’s.
Your criticism should be made with the goal of some result, else it is just noise.
We have all fallen into the snark trap at one time or another.
But improvement is possible. Look back through your blog posts, tweets and status updates. Are you rejoicing at the misfortunes of others? Is that really the personality you want to display to the world?