The ad hominem attack and what to do about it

Social media can be a great force for good and many people engage positively with others that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to. It allows people to connect in ways that nothing else comes close to!

It does have its flip side, not everyone is interested in positive engagement and quite gleefully set about causing as much disruption as they can.

I’ve encountered more than my share of people who will send a message to ask a question or respond to something I’ve posted or commented on, but won’t post directly online for fear of being attacked by someone who might have a different opinion about something to theirs. 

The term ‘ad hominem attack’ might be familiar to you. What does ad hominem mean? In simple terms it means that rather than addressing the issue someone goes for the person.

 For example, being called an idiot/fool/ignorant/etc by someone who disagrees with you but with no direct response to what it is you have posted. 

People who engage in ad hominem attacks rather than engaging in mature debate are not actually advancing their cause. Mature (I’m talking attitude not age) social media users, who welcome debate as an opportunity to learn, find them annoying and easy to ignore.

I learned how to deal with ad hominem attacks a long time ago – don’t respond to them! Is there really any point in trying to engage with someone who thinks that trading personal insults is the way to go?

The security industry on social media is niche and ad hominem attacks, although they do happen, are a lot rarer than people may fear. If it happens, ignore, move on! Don’t let a small number of people block you from engaging with what is the greatest single advance in human communication of all times.

Both professionally and socially, social media cannot, indeed should not, be ignored. Three years ago, I sat down at my PC and blocked several people from engaging with me on facebook. I’d announced that I was going to be blocking people a few days before and outlined why, as stated above. I received a very surprising message from someone I remain connected with.

“I wish I had the courage to block people I don’t want anything to do with but I’m worried about what they might do!”

This is how damaging negative people can be. Remove them, you remove their ‘power’.

Now, we are not born with skills, and engaging positively with other people definitely is a skill! It can be learned and it will be easier to learn if you are a genuine, down to earth and are happy to share your own knowledge and skills with other people in turn. Why? Because you are the kind of people that others will want to network with!

I generally find that the best way to end up being really good at something is to start out by being really bad at it, and stick with it!

It’s the same for dealing with negative people – once you’ve plucked up the courage to ignore one and move on it gets a lot easier…