By Michelle Graff
Graff,-MichelleThe episode, which marked the first time the celebrity chef Ramsay says he has ever given up on a restaurant in the history of Nightmares, was much talked about, both for the behavior of the owners and for the ensuing social media firestorm.

I won’t recap the entire hour-long extravaganza (though it truly is something to see) or every he-said, she-said twist and turn in the social-media saga. Basically, though, the owners were criticized publicly, both on the show and later online, for their food and how they run their business. And they, perhaps, did not respond as graciously as they could have.

But in every failing lies a lesson and I think there are some great ones retailers can learn about handling “haters,” as one of the owners of Amy’s Baking Company termed her online critics.

After seeing the Amy’s Baking Company episode on Hulu last Thursday, I ran across a great article by Forbes that outlined six things one should never do on social media.

The column’s tips included waiting to cool down before writing a response (which is fine advice in almost all acrimonious situations), avoiding insults or derogatory language, and knowing, like Kenny Rogers at a card table, when to walk away from an online argument.

The article also mentioned two other tips that I thought might need some more explanation. The writer mentions not to respond to “trolls,” and I didn’t know exactly what a troll was. My first thought, after ruling out short people that live under a bridge, was that the author was referencing spambots.

But social media-savvy jeweler Dan Gordon, of Samuel Gordon Jewelers in Oklahoma City, set me straight. An online troll refers to a person that visits different web site expressly for the purpose of picking fights.

Gordon says trolls usually post using a pseudonym and a random avatar and are recognizable because they generally do not have civil debates and their arguments are without substance, basis or actual purpose. They also may pop up multiple times baiting you on the same subject; Gordon says he had one guy who kept contacting him online arguing that diamonds are not rare. He eventually blocked this person from being able to contact him.

After talking with Dan, I suddenly became aware that I had my very own troll on Twitter, whom I eventually blocked as well. I wasn’t aware at the time, however, that I was being trolled or even that such a thing as trolling existed.

But, back to the Forbes article … in the story, the writer also mentions a website called Reddit, warning that it is “not for the weak” and that it may not be worth people’s time to respond to threads on the website “unless you have thick skin.”

Reddit is a site comprised entirely of user-generated content that allows very liberal speech and can take on a mob type of mentality. In other words, if one person doesn’t like what you’ve posted, chances are many other people are going to jump on the bandwagon. What happens on Reddit is compared to what happens in large crowds, with people losing an sense of individual responsibility and doing things they would never dream of doing if they were just by themselves.

“If you do something dumb on there,” Gordon advises, “you are definitely going to get called out and it may be by many (people).”

Consider yourself warned.

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