Recently, in the same week, I got to watch two separate social media meltdowns. One made the national news; one just swept the cake industry. Both involved cake artists. In both cases, the cake artists fed into the drama instead of ignoring it or rising above it. I honestly do not know what the long term effects of these meltdowns will be, but I would not be surprised if long term damage has been done to reputations.
In today’s fast paced world, one drop truly does ripple out. Seemingly small choices can have large impacts. If you blow up on a public forum, you have to expect that it will be shared and shared and shared. Whether we like it or not, people are watching our posts. People are judging us. If we are constantly negative, people will unconsciously think negatively of us. If you are constantly upbeat and encouraging of others, people will be drawn to you. If you make a mistake and are honest about it, people will forgive you.
In the case of the national meltdown, a bakery was on a tv show and made some unusual comments. People went onto their Facebook page and poked fun or derided their philosophy. The bakery owners then made the fatal mistake of engaging these critics. The better and more expedient solution would have been to block the people and to remove the comments. Anytime I had someone place a negative post on my bakery Facebook page, this was my solution. Yes, it takes a little time, but it removes their power. The only thing they want is to create drama in your life. You can join in the drama or wipe it from the face of the Earth.
In the other instance, a well known cake celebrity was subjected to a prank. She did not laugh it off or simply post that the prank was a prank. No, she blasted the creator of the prank. When others found humor in the prank that she could not see, she blasted them, as well. In the end, she blocked numerous people. So what did all of that gain her? Not much. Many people were offended by her reaction to the prank and it may, in the end, cause her to lose supporters for a project dear to her heart. This is sad. Sometimes, in hindsight, we can see where we went wrong on social media, but it isn’t always easy when we are in the middle of an emotional situation.
Another example occurred last week. A talented sugar artist in England closed her business due to cyber bullying. She was driven to a suicide attempt by the behavior of a few self described sugar witches. As with the cases above, she tended to go into the drama instead of removing the drama from her life. I think she initially tried to ignore the posts or block them, but, at some point, began to post about the treatment she was receiving. While that did get her sympathy from other artists, it also fed into the drama. I still believe the best approach would have been to block the people posting on her page and to remove their comments. As a business page owner on Facebook, you have that ability. When the people who live to create drama find silence, they will move on.
Does this silence mean that you are validating their treatment of you? Aren’t you supposed to stand up for yourself and call them out, so that the bullying stops? Kind of. Calling them out publicly, as seen above, did not stop the bullies. It magnified it. The better approach is to take away their forum. Report the tactics to Facebook or the proper authorities. Punish them through the proper channels.
When the British artist posted that she was closing her business, her followers immediately wanted to go attack the people who harassed her. They wanted to bully the bullies. I cringed as soon as I read those responses, because I know in my heart that this will create a nightmare situation for all involved.
There is so much good in social media (take for example the pages that sprung up after the Oklahoma tornadoes to give assistance to those affected, to reunite pets and owners and to give out important, life saving information to people in the area). This is when I love Facebook. Social media connects us to our friends and family and to people we don’t know who share our interests. It is not Facebook or social media that is evil. It is only some who use it.
The next time you are about to start on a rant on Facebook, please take a deep breath and ask yourself if this smothers the drama or feeds the drama. My guess is that you will realize it will feed the fire and that you will delete your post. I know that I cannot please everyone in my personal or professional life, so all I can do is try to remember that I hate drama and do my best to keep it out of my life and off my Facebook pages.
When did we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves? Why do we let one or two people ruin our day? We must not let them have so much influence over our lives. Sometimes the hardest, but most eventually rewarding thing, is to let time and karma show the world who is wrong. Lets try to be sweet to each other. Lets try to support our fellow artists. There is plenty of business for all of us out there. Bake love. Not war.