I, Troll.

June 8, 2009

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I create therefore I snark

Those of you who follow the advertising trade blogs, or even just this one, are likely aware of this creative director’s more dramatic moments in the blogosphere. Without giving details (you know how to find them!), I’ve been vilified, praised, offended and defended; some of it deserved, some of it not. I’ve come to expect the haters. For the most part, they no longer bother me. Price of entry, I reason.

Alas, I learned my lessons the hard way, which, given the newness of this frontier, might be the only way. Once, upon discovering a slew of hate about me, I lashed out into the void, futilely trying to defend myself. Dumb move. This only fanned the flames, in effect making me guilty of my accusers claims by association. Heed my warning: fight back on the Internet and you will invariably lose. The blogosphere is a casino and trolls run the house.

Unfortunately, remaining stoic is easier said than done. There is something unsettling about seeing your name in a situation where you didn’t write it. Even now my heart still skips a beat whenever I discover something written about me, even if it is flattering. Especially when it’s not.

And so, in the proverbial heat of the moment, I’ve reacted. I’ve also been an instigator. Maybe I didn’t hide behind a pseudonym but I was abusing the privilege and power that comes with the Internet.

In most cases, I’ve tried to make amends. That may be ill advised as well. Recently, a mea culpa elicited more jeers than cheers. Again, heed my warning: You. Can’t. Win.

That said I intend to close this discussion with a controversial hypotheses. And here it is: I’ve come to believe that most haters and trolls in the advertising blogosphere are (or were) members of the creative department. Only we possess that unique combination of insecurity and unrequited ambition which, when ignited, creates levels of schadenfreude not seen anywhere else in Ad Land. I’ve written about this before. Creatives are constantly being criticized (and praised) for their ideas. We crave adulation, never quite learning how to process criticism. No excuse for bad behavior. But it is what it is.

No question bitter account people are trolling the Internet; jilted CEOs, the recently fired, but I am convinced these poor souls do not take it out on the Internet (and on each other) the way we do.

Circumstantial evidence abounds. Below the C-suite, just about every online attack I can recall was directed at creative people, creative directors in particular. We are over rated, over paid, over exposed, over analyzed. The only people who care that much about us is… us.

Food for thought next time you’re composing a clever piece of vitriol about that hack at Y&R, that perverse Crispin spot or that grandiose has-been at Euro ☺. Remember you’re not as anonymous as you think: You are likely a male. And you are almost certainly a creative.

Prove me wrong. If you’re not creative and you’ve also been an online troll, let us know. Let me know. You can start by unloading right here and now!

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