Grappling with a Pig in the mud pit
Grappling with a Pig in the mud pit
Grappling with a pig in the mud pit is a scenario that plays out every so often on a twitter. The moment your follower count exceeds 1000, you are game to artists who practice this form of wrestling. Their motivations vary. Some are just hoping you will give them a reply. Others want to be part of the conversation. A few want an RT for their blog, tweet or just their handle. And then there are the trolls whose aim is to get you down in the mud pit to show others of their ilk that you look just as ugly as them in the mud. A further refinement on the last category is an organized wolf-pack of trolls acting in concert. Their aim is the same – to knock you off your pedestal and into the mud pit with them – but their tactics are much more refined, bandwidth intensive and coordinated. How do you deal with these artists?
The first and foremost step that these artists need to accomplish is to engage you. A volley of RTs for your tweets, a derisive comment on what you say, direct messages and challenges, and forwarding others comments or outright abuse to you are a mix of tactics employed to engage you and draw you into a conversation. Once you start responding, the next leg of actually provoking a verbal duel follows. The subject doesn’t matter really though of course it helps your opponent if he/she knows something of the topic on which he hooks his challenge. What you say is irrelevant because the artist will distort and rubbish it anyway. The end game is the same. It is to deflate you to the same level as that of the pig in the mud sty. So what if the artist had to herself get dirty? That’s no problem to her at all while it hurts you. Can such a game, loaded as it is against you, ever be won? Note variants of this game are used by school and college kids for social climbing and so most people use this strategy at some time; especially new comers who have nothing to lose by adopting it even if their intentions are benign. A repeated use of such strategies is often no different from blackmail until you give in.
Note the strategy can have a benign purpose even if it is attention seeking, annoying and distracting. If your pig only wants a little help to get started on twitter it best to help when you can without annoying your existing followers with indiscriminate RTs and other annoyances. The trick is to be able to separate out the benign pigs from those bent on getting you to be pig like them in their sty.
But how do you deal with a pig who worms his way in, so to speak, and you have no option but to engage with?
There are 3 things the pig needs to declare victory:  To get you to reply to a series of exchanges each of which is cleverly continued by inserting a sting in the tail that you feel impelled to correct with your next tweet only to find the reply similarly twisted again and so forth.  To get you angry, annoyed, distracted into any error that can then be echoed across twitter as a victory pennant.  A public celebration of the coup by exchanging congratulatory RTs with fellow artists which is what increases the worth of the artist in the eyes of compatriots. As I said the pattern will go through no matter what you say or do so long as you chose to engage or are compelled to engage the artist.
Overall the game is akin to blackmail and your vulnerability comes from your high follower count. The more followers you have the more vulnerable you are to this play, benign or virulent doesn’t matter. And the higher is the pigs pay off in terms of exposure to your & his or her followers. The strategy to deal with the malevolent pigs is therefore the same as the one you would use to deal with a blackmailer.
Begin by the general policy of ignoring all unsolicited tweets unless you have had the time to look up the potential pig’s twitter page, blog if any, and his or her twitter stream of at least 20 to 30 tweets. Never ever reply to a tweet from a new source without this due diligence. A lot of grief comes from ignoring this necessary piece of homework.
Once you have done your due diligence, try and put the source into the benign category, reply politely if possible, and watch the exchanges develop. If they prove benign and merit help, be free with whatever you can to help the tweeter along. You were once in a similar situation and you know how tough it is get your first 500 followers. So help others but without annoying your existing followers. Who knows the tactic may pay off in a genuine relationship on twitter.
What if they are not benign? Well there is only one strategy to handle a blackmailer; and that is to refuse to play. Easier said than done but really, there is no alternative strategy to deal with a blackmailer. Either refuse to play or submit forever. And submission is not a strategy. Since there is no earthly reason why you should ever submit to anyone on twitter, refusing to play the game is the easiest and the best way out. Simply use that block button and ignore all echoes!
Would you consider hitting back at a blackmailer? Mind this is different from the issue of playing the blackmailer’s game on his or her proposition of blackmailing you. Instead envisage a scenario where you have done your research on your tormentor and find a vulnerability that you can exploit independently of his blackmailing game. Would you hit out at him/her?
The answer to that must also be a resounding no. There is no point in joining the pigs in the pig sty; by their invitation or by inviting them yourself, because the end result is the same. You become the pig in their pig sty like them. Moreover, expect the opposition to be as smart as you are at the very least. So neither let them make you a pig nor be tempted into being a pig yourself.
Keep out of all pig sties and leave the pigs alone!