Friday, April 24, 2020

How to Deal with a Garden-Variety Social Media Pest: Ask the Manners Doctor

The Manners Doctor, aka Camilla Randall, author of "Good Manners for Bad Times" and "Rx for the Modern Wedding", has agreed to visit this blog once a month to answer some of our questions about contemporary online etiquette.

Dear Manners Doctor,

I’m on social media because I use it to promote my gardening blog. But I'm thinking of deleting my accounts because a weird person has been attacking me with nasty accusations that have no basis in fact. 
Three or four times a day he’ll send me a Tweet saying. “You are so wrong about Gerbera daisies!”  and “Why do you hate Gerbera daisies?” and “What did Gerbera daisies ever do to you? Time to apologize, Karen!”

I tweeted back at this person, who calls himself "CadDeVil" asking him politely to stop harassing me. Then he sent a barrage of Tweets calling me a "snowflake" for getting angry when someone "disagreed" with me.

But you can't "disagree" with something that was never was said, can you?

You're Next, Karen!
Unfortunately, now he's found my Facebook page and keeps posting pictures of dead Gerbera daisies, saying “You’re next, Karen!”

Here’s the thing: I’ve never written one word about Gerbera daisies, and my name’s not Karen.

I don’t particularly like Gerberas, but I have never said that on my blog. I’m mostly all about miniature roses, especially the new hardy climbers. I’ve gone through my archives twice looking for something I might have said about daisies that could trigger this person’s anger.

All I could find is something I wrote in 2017: “Shasta daisies do not like to have wet feet. Make sure you plant them in well-drained soil.”
Shasta Daisies do not like wet feet

Do you think anybody might find that offensive? Should I apologize? I feel terrible if I’ve offended this person, but I honestly can’t find any evidence that I've ever written a word about Gerbera daisies.

I want to prove to him that I haven’t done what he accuses me of, but I don't want to offend him further. I'm losing sleep over this! 

Should I delete my social media accounts?

Not Karen in Kansas

Dear Not Karen,

Should you apologize? By all means. The Manners Doctor believes that apologies are the lubricant that keeps civilization running. She believes an apology can be the solution to nearly everything.   

The person who apologizes has the power to alleviate the suffering of the person demanding it. So by all means accept that power.

A nice apology also makes an escape much easier when you need to make a quick call to law enforcement. 

But did you do anything wrong? Absolutely not! 

Why would you delete social media accounts you need for your business? You just need that handy button that says "block." 

First, it's possible you're dealing with a person with mental health challenges, and unless you are a medical professional, any further communication would be practicing medicine without a license. 

However, in all probability, your social media has simply been invaded by a garden-variety pest known as the Internet Troll. So the block button is even more valuable.The only rule for dealing with a troll is "Do Not Feed." 

The Manners Doctor herself often has to deal with this invasive species.

Unfortunately, the word “Manners” can trigger angry responses from people who have none.

A troll is fed by attention, so you must eliminate it, entirely.

Back when the Manners Doctor was in schoolwhen the earth’s crust was still coolingif a person wanted to make an aggressive, bullying, childish bid for attention, they would often lower their trousers and bend over to show off their derrieres to the desired audience. I believe they learned this from chimpanzees.

It was called “mooning.”
Trolls in simpler times.

However, in this era, the same sort of people get attention by claiming to be offended.

The Manners Doctor rather prefers mooning. It may be crude, rude, and unattractive, but it's not as dishonest. 

You have allowed yourself to be manipulated by the troll's unjust accusations. We all feel an instinctive need to defend ourselves against injustice, so an unjust accusation is a simple way to hook their prey. 

But be aware the accusations have nothing to do with you. They are simply the "trousers" that Mr. DeVil has lowered. 

The Doctor would be very surprised to learn that "CadDeVil" had been emotionally wounded by any Tweets about gardening.

Here’s what you do: Go to one of Mr. DeVil's tweets and click on the little downward facing arrow in the upper right corner. A menu will drop down. You can choose to block or mute this person’s Tweets, and unfollow him, of course.

Then you go to Facebook and unfriend and block him as well. Also adjust your privacy settings to block anybody from posting on your page without your permission. And I suggest you remove your email address from public view.

You might want to do a quick Google search of the miscreant's online name with the word "troll." This will probably tell you that you are far from the only victim of this particular pest. 

After that, simply put him/her out of your mind.

Or if a fleeting thought of CadDeVil should appear, imagine he's desperately showing you a chimpanzee-like "moon" and act accordingly.

Very Truly Yours,

The Manners Doctor.


"Delicious wit, wonderful eccentric characters, and a beguiling plot. Camilla Randall is a delight!"...Melodie Campbell, Canada's "Queen of Comedy"

It's a comedy-mystery about cyberbullying, the gangs of new media, and the ghost of Richard III. Plus a cat named Buckingham.

"This wonderfully satiric comedy is a joy to read. On the surface, it's a frothy romance cum suspense story about a whacky writer, Camilla, whose life is threatened by trolls and who topples from one hilarious disaster into the next. But underneath, it provides a perceptive insight into the mad world of modern publishing, the sub-culture of Internet lunatics and the mindset of cultists who can - and do - believe ten impossible things before breakfast. The reader is left with the question: how much of the story, perish the thought, might be true? Tremendous fun, wittily satiric and highly recommended."...Nigel J. Robinson

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  1. You really had me going, MD, with that opening about the power of apologies. Like a lot of rustic Vermont-raised boys, I'm thinking about the power of a jab to the jaw with this DeVil clown. But that's the first rule of modern trolling- stay safely out of melee range. When I saw your later advice and support, my blood pressure came down a bit and I saw of course you're quite right.
    Still, wouldn't mind a round or two... you KNOW these guys are out of shape if anyone is!

    1. Mr. Hahn--The Manners Doctor is not totally unfamiliar with the urge to punch a troll in the face. Or she might use a carefully aimed stiletto shoe. But one must always look to the final goal. In this case, that goal is to be rid of the troll's unfair allegations. But if the allegations continue or escalate, even in the vacuum you have created, then further action might be appropriate. Probably not an actual punch in the face, but a lawsuit in the face. Or if one happens to have friends of the organized crime persuasion, something physical might ensue. The Manners Doctor remembers when she was a girl and threatened by a thug, a kind male friend with a colorful background said, "What's his name? I know people." She found that remarkably comforting.