I've been working with social media marketing for almost a decade now. But after my visit to the dark side of Twitter, I now know that I've been naive and sheltered. I've worked mainly with medical clients and premium brands in and out of healthcare. In building communities with doctors, patients and luxury brand consumers, I just haven't encountered that many haters or trolls. And neither are my personal feeds.
But, I admit, I've been troll curious. So I decided to become one. For self-preservation reasons, I won't tell you what team I was playing for, but here's what happened. I opened up a fake Twitter account and baited it with a few targeted hashtags. It popped right away. New followers Likes and Retweets flooded in. If you’ve ever worked a feed before, you know those are all dopamine hits! No need for analytics here. The feedback was immediate.
Everyone in my tribe was hurling insults and trying to outdo each other with profanity and grossness. It was like Sam Kinison had come back to life in a Twitter feed. I liked it. I laughed until my sides hurt. Then it hit me. All these people were talking to each other, and not anyone else.
There was hardly ever push back on a post, an alternate idea, or an attempt to persuade anyone on the other side. All the oxygen in the community was sucked out by the residents who were feeding on the hate fest.
This is what I learned. Hatred can be intoxicating, and groupthink just adds accelerant. When people are hating, they're not listening. So don't count on social media to bring world peace or turn around climate change. Deep inside, we all have a dark side, but social media can coax it out of anyone.