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a blog by Chris Barrow

Reflections on Saturday’s Facebook post and what I have learned from it

Warning – this post refers to the use of bad language and may offend.

Well that was quite a weekend – at least what was left of it after The Dentistry Show finished on Saturday evening. Back home for dinner and a few glasses of wine and then the storm breaks after my Facebook post complaint about the drummers and dancers who drowned out the exhibition hall (over 5k views now – good grief).

As I said on the thread, I made a BIG mistake in using the “F” word in my original post – classic schoolboy error when using social media to complain about behaviours – I am still kicking myself for that. We can only speculate as to whether the commentators would have reacted with the same gusto had I omitted the profanity.

Reading through the more sensible posts, it seems that the overall vote was a disagreement with my views and that most folks thought it was OK, that I shouldn’t have complained, that the Show is a “show” and not a scientific meeting and that speakers and exhibitors appear at their own peril.

If that’s the majority view – then I stand corrected and when the 2018 version happens, I’ll keep my mouth shut and my fingers off the keyboard.

In the meantime, anybody writing a dissertation on social media has my permission to use this episode as an example of what can happen when things get out of hand.

Last week I posted on the General Election and, by the end of the thread, people were throwing insults at each other (people I don’t know, insulting other people I don’t know – I wasn’t even party to the conversation). We quickly moved past party politics to a rich versus poor slanging match.

I subsequently commented that there were subjects like politics, children and religion that one should steer clear of – I should have added the performance of dental exhibitors to that list!

By Sunday night the usual trolls were appearing to wheel out accusations of me running companies into the wall, biting the hand that was feeding me, being on the verge of bankruptcy and so on.

“Let’s have a strong debate about the rights and wrongs of making a noise at the show – and about using profanity on social media” was replaced by “let’s see if we can do a bit of character assassination.”

The temperature was rising when I packed off to bed last night and seems to have simmered overnight – we shall see what today brings – will Monday have us all back at work and getting on with things, or will the party recommence?

Incidentally, nobody has unsubscribed from my monthly newsletter or this blog, no clients have written in, no prospects have so far changed their minds, no speaking gigs or writing assignments have cancelled and I promise I’ll be the first to let you know if I lose business as a result of this. We can all learn from that.

There are a couple of observations that spring to mind here:

  1. how come trolls are people you have never done business with? They seem to have these amazing insights on your personal and professional life and yet you have rarely met them, never done business with them, often hardly know them;

  2. do trolls think they are making amazing revelations? In my case, you have only to read this business blog and my personal blog to know exactly all the things I’ve done right and wrong in business. When I win – I write about it – when I lose I write about it – it’s my catharsis (as now). So there isn’t any new news – it’s all history and it’s all out there.

I’m often asked by my dental clients..

“Chris we want to start collecting reviews as you ask – but what happens if we get a really bad review or a troll?”

There are two answers to the bad review question – and the events of the weekend have reminded me. More on trolls in a moment.

Lesson 1

If you get a bad review and it’s justified then accept the lesson and learn from it.

Lesson 2

The second answer relates to a conversation I had with the psychologist who interviewed us all before we went off to film Season 1 of The Island with Bear Grylls.

I asked “we are going to be stuck on an island for a month with little food or water – what happens if I say something in the heat of the moment that is then captured on film and played back to millions and about which I’m not proud?”

The psychologist looked at me for a moment, smiled and replied “let me give you some advice on that – don’t be a dick.”

So my advice to clients is to approach the world of social media with caution – it can be a great friend and an unforgiving enemy – depending on how you use it.

It can also expose the best and the worst in you – and in other people.

In conclusion.

Do I wish I hadn’t used the “F” word?

Absolutely and, once more, I apologise to anyone offended.

Did I express an opinion that was supported by the majority of readers?

No I did not and have learned that I was wrong – anything goes at shows.

Am I going to leave the thread on Facebook so that people and trolls can continue to read and comment?

Of course – if you want to put yourself out there, you have to take the brickbats when and if you get the mood wrong.

On trolling.

You only lose the thread and/or get blocked if you insult my friends or family. The dental troll who posted to my eldest son that he must be an idiot like his father was blocked (that’s the same chap who was found stalking through my wife’s Facebook photos).

Please don’t let this put you off using social media responsibly in your marketing mix – it is an amazing and wonderful place and can generate lots of new business for you.

Just don’t be a dick.

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