Are You Suffering From Internet Rage?

Smile for the Camera

I won’t be the first or the last person to comment upon Internet Rage. Won’t be the first person to remark upon how some people wield their keyboards like a broadswords and take vicious swings at anyone and everyone who irritates them.

This won’t be a post in which I try to diagnose them or cite sections of the DSM-IV explaining why people think a computer and DSL entitles them to act like jerks because there are trained professionals who get paid lots of money to tell us why little Johnny goes crazy whenever his videos of Miley Cyrus Twerking don’t load properly.

Instead let’s call this another voice asking some questions about our online behavior and commenting upon a few things.

Customer Service Is Dead

I certainly understand how some companies can make you want to bang your head against the wall.  Monday afternoon I received a bill from my ISP that didn’t make sense and it took an hour for my question to be answered.

The online chat didn’t work, the FAQs were useless and the telephone number was hidden on the website. But what really started to make me want to scream was the twenty minutes of being on hold.

Part of me wanted to respond by writing a series of blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates in which I skewered the company for wasting my time.

I am tech savvy. I am Internet savvy. I am social media savvy.

If it took me that long to find the information and then get in touch with customer service I can only imagine what would happen for others who are less familiar.

You don’t have to try hard to find multiple other examples of customer service failures either.

But if you look at this from a business perspective what you might see is opportunity. Since the bar is already set so low you don’t need to do much to distinguish your business by providing superior customer service.

Moral Outrage

One of the new guarantees of the Internet Age is that brands/companies will do something outrageous on days when they should be more careful.

Someone will advertise their sale on 9/11 as “blowing up” and hordes of people will castigate them for being insensitive and demand an apology and coupons for 25% off their next order.

But what is sometimes lost in the shuffle is common sense and a question of whether the outrage is merited. Businesses are run by people which means we are going to see some pretty dumb things sometimes.

Sometimes someone is going to be insensitive but there is a difference between doing something unintentionally and intentionally and the response should take that into consideration.

I am not saying that good intentions gone wrong don’t require a response or a consequence but it is worth thinking about how we respond to whatever event we are talking about.

This is also why you need to pay attention to who is handling your social media because what happens before and after is important.


Ideally you won’t find yourself in a position in which you have to deal hordes of angry people commenting on your social media platforms but you can be certain that sooner or later you will deal with angry customers and that requires a deft touch.

Angry customers sometimes suffer from Internet Rage and can be very aggressive in their communication. And even if they are not intentionally aggressive online communication doesn’t have any verbal or physical cues for you to work with.

If you can’t see a smile or hear a happy voice you might mistake their words for being an angry missive.

You don’t want to give in to your own Internet Rage and engage in a nasty exchange because once you post your response or email it off you lose control of it all and have no idea what can happen.

There are websites and Internet Memes that are devoted to taking advantage of these moments. and something minor can easily blow up in your face.

You are always better served by being an active communicator and not reactive.

What do you think?

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  1. Pingback: How To Fill Your Customers With Rage & Hate - Joshua Wilner

  2. Lori September 13, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I agree Josh – too much automation means too little good service most of the time.

  3. Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes September 13, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Hi Lori,
    It is so surreal to me to hear a “live operator” is now considered a distinguishing feature. Most of the time I prefer speaking with a real person because I usually have my questions answered on a faster basis, but we don’t see much of the live operator any more now do we.
     Technology is useful, but I don’t see it as something that can serve every need. Sometimes I think businesses hurt themselves by using too much automation.

  4. Lori September 12, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Josh!
    I so agree with this: “Since the bar is already set so low you don’t need to do much to
    distinguish your business by providing superior customer service.” Recently I saw an ad on TV announcing that an actual live operator will answer when you call. They Trademarked what they call it: Live Answer. 😮
    Technology can be used to give BETTER service, but often it’s used in lieu of service. I’m testing out a Live Chat widget for my TCP site. Here is an example of how technology can help me improve what I offer in the way of customer service, if I handle it well, and if it is well received! Already today someone has told me she liked that I didn’t pester her 😮 
    We all need to step it up, don’t you think? But then again if we’re the only ones giving good service then we don’t have to step it up that much!

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