Sometimes something starts out as fun, but ends up being anything but that, Maybe a joke that goes too far. Damaging or hurtful comments made under the guise of a bit of light-hearted banter. Like describing the speakers at a conference as drunks or drug users, or taking pictures of conference attendees and describing them as MILFS looking for a pick up, cat ladies or suggesting that this lady (with a picture) in the book shop line better be buying a book on dress codes. The thing about trolls is that they make these posts and comments under another name, and are guarded by the cloak of anonymity. This lets them say what they want without any concern for their own brand or reputation, and they do this for a reason.
It might seem like a lot of fun to the small clique in on the joke, but these types of posts are always posted on popular twitter streams, usually events, as they were this week on the #HRFL13 hashtag. Plenty of people invest time talking to the folks in HR about why they have nothing to fear from their employees getting social, and why they should embrace it. I’m sure most of the clique behind Johnnie Jobs have had the same conversations many times. A conference like the one in Florida attracts lots of new people trying out Twitter for the first time, or revisiting for another look. There is a real opportunity to show them what is involved, and how this might be useful, and how they might get value from taking part. Showing them pictures of attendees labeled as MILFs, poking fun at unbeknown people, or personal attacks on speakers is not really what you would expect. The pictures were coming from within the conference, as a means of saying we are here,we are watching you, and we are laughing at you. Is that really the impact you want to have? In jokes are only funny tp the in crowd. Most people looking in from outside will be believing what they are seeing, and it is damaging and hurtful. What effect would it have on the lady described as a MILF looking for a pick up? The comment and picture were in the open stream, and on the #HRFL13 hashtag.

If you really believe that it is all just good fun, why not post it in your own name or on your own blog? Why not say this is me, this is what I, and my company think of you all? It is only fun after all. Why not include this in a keynote delivered at another state conference, take public credit for your work? I’m sure that those behind Johnnie Jobs speak at enough. I might be considered a “ narcissistic HR social media type who has had their sense of fun sucked out” for having the view that trolls and these types of comments aren’t funny. I hope the collective behind it have another think about it, and open themselves up publicly, on their own blogs and accounts. If it is just all humour, then there can’t be any harm in that.I believe twitter has now pulled the account, although I didn’t complain. This takes some doing, so it must be more than me who feel the same way. Twitter also might consider pulling all the associated accounts to prevent further wrong doing by the account holders. it will be interesting to see if this happens.

I’m fine with snarkiness, a bit of humour, and I laugh more than most. I’m open to critique, and the plenty of people who think I am wrong. I often am, I just think that this should come in an open way, and not from a troll account. The intention might well have been fun, but you could damage the reputation of others, and hurt innocent bystanders with the barbed tweets about MILF’s etc, attached to pictures. I hope more people take a stand against trolls, and demand they go public, because we know the harm that’s being caused by cyber bullies in schools and other places, and this kind of behaviour just isn’t any different.

Bill