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What’s a troll?  What is shaming?

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Social media can be a great way to connect with lost friends from middle school, keep track of the grandchildren, and even a great way to market and humanize your business.  In the business, we emphasize building your brand, and all of the social media channels are a great way to do so.  For everyday users, however, social media comes with a certain degree of confusion as they try to learn all the lingo associated with being active on the different channels.  The act of simply being on social media has its own vocabulary, and if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked what certain words mean, well, I’d have a whole lot of nickels.

Anything newer to the communication scene is going to come with its own complex language.  Remember when instant messaging was the popular way to communicate and there were constantly lists popping up on the internet explaining to confused parents what their kids IMs meant.  Between IMs and texting, we’ve started the regrettable “text speak” epidemic, where people are actually saying “LOL” in favor of laughing.  However, say “LOL” to the wrong person, and you’re likely to be greeted with a confused expression, as the simply don’t understand what you’re saying.

Most of the world has finally begun to pick up on text speak, and while there are a few stragglers, there’s a whole new generation of confusion, as people just don’t get what everyone is talking about in terms of social media buzzwords.  Throw the word creeper out in daily conversation, and most people will chuckle and nod their heads, but there will be some people at the back of the crowd shrugging their shoulders in misunderstanding.  With new words associated with social media entering the vernacular on what seems to be a weekly basis, I thought I’d give a rundown of the basics.

First, there are the watchwords for people who swing by your profile to look at your statuses or photos and don’t say anything.  Call them lurkers or creepers, whatever you like, but the definition remains the same.  Some people are reading this and questioning how you know when someone has been lurking your page.  They are the people that bring up a Facebook status you’ve written in front of a group of mutual friends, talk publicly about a picture you posted, or begin a conversation with “I didn’t know you were friends with so and so”.   It’s evident from conversation that they’ve been watching, but they never say anything on your profile to let you know they’ve been there.

There’s also a popular newer word circulating that used to be used to indicate severe guilt for wrongdoing, but is now easily the most overused word in all of social media.  Shame indicates a personal belief that you’ve done something wrong, and you have something to feel bad about.  Shaming, however, is a whole different animal.  Shaming is the word that has been assigned to any comment that could be construed as a criticism.  Usually assigned to a body type, such a “thin-shaming” or “fat-shaming”, this is relatively new to the social media scene.  The memes that go around on a daily basis asking people to like an image if the particular body type pictured is preferable to “skin and bones” or vice versa, can be considered shaming.  While it does actually exist, not every criticism offered up on social media counts as shaming.

The most popular question that I am asked as a social media manager is in regards to trolling.  For every five people who know exactly what trolling is, there are twenty who don’t.  An internet troll is someone who intentionally starts fights on the internet with hateful or incendiary comments that are meant to offend, and often do just that.  Trolls spend their time on social media looking for someone to bite on one of their controversial comments, just so they can fight and argue.  They often act dejected at first; and will often use the statement that they’re entitled to their opinion as their first defense.  Then they lie in wait for someone to slip up and make a stupid statement, and then they annihilate that unsuspecting person.  Nine times out of ten, what they’re saying is not actually in line with their personal beliefs, but it makes for better reading when you’re willing to fight.

The social media dictionary is growing on a weekly basis, so it seems.  Each week, I get a phone call from my mom or other adult asking me what a certain something means.  Things like meme, shaming, haters, lurkers, trolls, and creepers keep me on my toes without a doubt.  I am, in fact, a social media management specialist, but I have to admit something here.  Sometimes, even I have to look up the ridiculously increasing vocabulary of the social media world, you know, just in case someone asks.

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