Let’s be honest here the internet isn’t a super friendly place. There is a lot of negativity out there and people are READY to offer up their opinions on everything. The good outweighs the bad usually but it’s out there trust me. The more active you are the more you open yourself up to it also.
Don’t ask me about the psychology behind all this… I haven’t got a clue about that end (although I’d be interested to know… does anyone have a psychology degree??). But, online people are more apt to say mean things than they are face-to-face. We all know them… they get on a post and have something to say on each comment about how they are right and you (or someone else) is wrong and how their opinion is somehow the only one that is correct. We usually label these people as “trolls”. Urban dictionary defines Troll as One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument. What’s the best way to handle them? How do you respond?
Rule of thumb… don’t. Don’t fan the flames.
It’s more complicated than that right? It always is. Here is how I handle this… If it’s personal to me or something I REALLY believe in (spay and neuter, breeding, animal rights) I will speak my peace in a NON-THREATENING way. What does that mean? It means I don’t attack anyone personally, no name calling (probably the MOST important thing). I express WHY I believe what I do and sometimes I will even go into why it means so much to me. Then leave it at that. Trust me… the trolls won’t. But take the high road. And NEVER engage them directly… don’t ever tag or call anyone out.
As a business owner, you are NEVER Annonymous… NEVER! And trust me you don’t want bad PR online… whether it has to do with your business or NOT. Please see my previous post when a business owner took the “wrong” road and engaged and got totally railroaded!
Same thing goes with reviews… it’s always best to respond… but respond politely.
Now… All of this advice can be taken with a grain of salt. I’m just speaking from personal experience and as a business owner. If you don’t run a business and don’t really have an “image” to maintain then, by all means, speak your mind. I’m an outspoken person myself so I have a difficult time holding my tongue too. Just remember… with screen shots, and the very nature of how open and free the internet is… it might not go away.