So my good friend Andy Hayes and I were sitting in Champions having a drink and some nosh, while decompressing after a day of SXSW, this past March. Our conversation centered around a couple of people who were well known in the blogging/Internet marketing circles whose behavior offline didn’t match up to what they pretended to be online. There was quite the scandal going down and it was the talk of Austin.
“Why don’t more people know about this?” I asked Andy. “No one wants to say anything,” Andy said. “No one wants to be the a**hole.”
For the sake of keeping it clean, I’m changing Andy’s term to “jerk.”
I’ve been thinking about this ever since our discussion. In this business, there are users, divas, narcissists , whiners, rabble rousers and money grubbers and yet so many people look up to them as being influential or thought leaders. It’s all part of our world. Like in any profession people gossip. We hear things. But we don’t tell you, and do you know why?
Because we don’t want to be the jerk.
It’s more than that though. Some people enjoy being jerks because they think it makes them look like heroes to their online communities. They pride themselves on their edginess and their ability to call people out. But if you’re going to be a jerk, there are some things to consider. Being a jerk has its repercussions and if you’re going to go this route, you best be prepared to have your facts straight and that you’re not just acting on rumor, gossip or your own personal bad feelings.
What Happens When You’re the Jerk
You know what happens when you’re the jerk?
- You gain a reputation – Jerks may enjoy their reputation as calling it as they see it, but they make a lot of frenemies in the process. No one wants to be the next victim. Their so called friends walk on eggs because they know if they misstep the Jerk may publically call them out on it. Jerks don’t have as many friends as they have people who are afraid to get on their bad side.
- You lose some of your community – The only people who want to hang out in a hotbed of negativity and drama are people who thrive on negativity and drama. All the people who are there for intelligent discussion eventually leave for a more positive place.
- People don’t always want to do business with you – Sure you may have clients, but if you weren’t so outspoken, you’d probably have more. Clients don’t want to be called out publicly either. What if they get on your bad side? Public callings out are unprofessional.
- If you’re wrong you look like an ass – If your facts are wrong, or you’re wrong about the other person’s intentions you run the risk of looking bad. Very few people who call someone out ask the subject of said calling out for their side of the story before posting it.
- If you’re right you look like an ass – Did you really need to call this person out? Are you truly being “heroic?” Or is there some other underlying issues like, oh, I don’t know, jealousy? Not saying you are, but when you’re the jerk, that’s what it looks like and that’s what people will say.
- No one trusts you anymore – Very few people confide in you or want to tell you truthfully how they feel. If you bust people on your blog, no one wants to tell you anything for fear of being next.
- There’s life beyond your community – The people in your community may applaud your jerkiness, those that stuck around through all the negativity. Everyone else? Well, they think you’re a jerk too. But in a different way. Sometimes we have to think about life beyond our communities too.
Yeah I just called out jerks. I must be one too.
What else do you think happens when you’re the jerk? How do you feel about “calling out” posts? Are the bloggers heroes or just looking for attention?