Nettiquette 101: Shame Flaming is what Twitter Tattletales do to Troll.

While there are several types of trolls (playtime, tactical, strategic, etc), the one I want to raise is the troll that’s most likely to live in all of us. The inherit little voice that cries within us when someone’s delivered an injustice we perceive to be so unforgivable, that we turn to social media in order to incite a shame flamewar.

shame flaming is akin to bullying, and it’s dehumanizing, not to mention passive aggressive…
Lately, the presence of these shame flaming Twitter tattletales are starting to irk me more and more. Essentially they are flamers that turn to social media as a way to voice their grievances with the intent to use their following to shame someone or corner a brand. They are probably the most inconspicuous of all the trolls, but they are the most prevalent.

Many social researchers have investigated flaming and have come up with several different theories about the phenomenon. In a world of computer-mediated communication, we lack the visual cues normally available in face-to-face contact. It’s easy to dehumanize people online because we forget about other people’s feelings. So when someone cuts infront of you in line this seems like taking his pic and then posting it on Twitter is the appropriate response:

Or, more famously, earlier this year when SendGrid’s then Dev Evangelist, Adria Richards over heard what she perceived to be a sexually charged joke, instead of addressing it in real life, she chose to Tweet the following:


The unsolicited photo and complaint in the first tweet generated little response. While Adria’s tweet was not only successful in publicly shaming the two men who made the joke. It was called Donglegate, and the single Tweet resulted in the PR nightmare for 3 people, their employers, ruined reputations and at least 2 firings – one of which was of Adria after Anonymous’ DDOS attack on the SendGrid servers forced them to fire her.

Personally, I find these actions rude and passive aggressive. Shaming someone online because they delivered an injustice to you is no reason to engage your social media following. There are alternative ways to handle complaints with people or brands, that don’t make you look like a flame shaming, Twitter Tattletale.

Here are the steps in being the perfect Mr/Ms. Manners when you really just want to be an asshole:

Step 1 – Be willing to accept that possibly what happened isn’t a personal attack on you.

Step 2 – Address your issue with the offending party in person. Or if it’s a brand, try using to find a human customer service representative to reach out to.

Step 3 – If an in person contact isn’t available, use Twitter to request a conversation via DM.

Step 4 – If non-of-the-above is available, then you may be entitled to use social media as a way to open dialog. But, do so only if it really makes sense to. Otherwise, let that shit go!

As a rule, you only gets 1 “Hail Mary” plea year (if that). The question is if you want to use it to shame a guy that cut in front of you in line. Because, like Adria Richards learned, regardless of whether you feel like you’re justified, you could lose your job – or worse.

Remember, shame flaming is akin to bullying, and it’s dehumanizing, not to mention passive aggressive. It runs the risk of getting out of hand and reflecting poorly on you and your own conflict resolution skills.

That is all.

If you have any thoughts on how to avoid shame flaming, post it below in the comments! 

The moment I realized I had forced all my friends to watch AfroSquad, I knew that talking about Internet culture was where I was meant to be. Between reddit, Nat&Marie and eating junk food, there's just enough time for my personal blog That is all. That is it. Oh. Instagram: Karmacake

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