That time I was almost a troll on Twitter and how I stopped myself.

I was so close to becoming the kind of person I can’t stand…

A black and white photo of a person hesitating to type on a laptop. Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash
A black and white photo of a person hesitating to type on a laptop. Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

“The average person online is both arrogant and defensive as a matter of natural reflex.” — Drew Magary, published in Forge

There’s a reason I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter. It seems to have cornered the market on bringing out the worst in people. Whether it’s considered cyber incivility or outright bullying, it’s something I know I won’t be able to avoid in the world of working in public, but it’s certainly something I never want to instigate.

You know the types: aggressive, condescending, or downright hostile. The ones that would never say something like this to another person’s face.

Ok, my comment wasn’t going to be mean, but it really made me stop and take notice of what I was about to do. Was I turning into one of those people that had no filter and no consideration for others online? Was this just a baby step towards that complete disregard for someone else’s feelings?

I was about to retweet a mistake from a prominent health figure here in Canada. It would have just been pointing out a spelling mistake. (See what I mean? I’m already trying to justify it as not being a big deal. This is how it starts.)

I considered making it into a joke to fit my purposes and promote what I do, but I stopped because it did not feel right to be pointing out someone’s innocent mistake like that.

Here’s what made me pause and change my mind:

I don’t remember which one happened first but my contemplation centered around the potential consequences of my actions and how they might be interpreted.

I’ve never met this person but I have a great deal of respect for their work, and while I am positive they have no clue who I am, this might have put me on their radar quickly as someone they don’t want to know or deal with. Definitely not how I want to be seen.

How would I feel if someone did this to me? I’d be embarrassed, I’d probably edit the thing and forget about it in a day, but I don’t think I would ever forget the person that did something like that. And it would take a lot for me to even consider associating with the person in the…

Sarah Albo | Your Conflict Coach

I write about dealing with conflict in our personal and professional lives.