I have made a lot of friends over the years, in the advertising business, in my consulting business and on line as well.
One of the best online friends I have is a guy named Phil Friedman. We met back on LinkedIn, before life went to hell for writers there when they stopped issuing notifications.
The thing I liked about Phil was the he was a real writer. There are a lot of people on social and business media sites who write. But relatively few who are real writers, and by this I mean writers who make their living transferring words and ideas from their heads into various forms of media and getting paid for doing it.
I am one of those people myself and I immediately recognized that Phil was the real deal.
As I followed his work, I also realized that not only was he an excellent writer, he was a real person of integrity, and by that I mean that he refused to suffer fools. You might even say that he was pugnacious in this regard, Really skillful writers don’t really fear too much and always welcome criticism, providing that it is well reasoned and actually makes a point.
The other thing that I came to realize was that he was using his writing to help other people with theirs. He would not just write articles about the boating industry, which is his main area of expertise, he would write about all kinds of other things.
In this regard, he and I were a lot alike. We both like the idea of giving back and using whatever skills and insights we have acquired along the way to advise people coming up on how to get better at writing or whatever their passion happens to be.
As our writer-to-writer relationship developed, we started chatting offline and decided that it might be fun to write something together. This was done mainly in the spirit of showing others with whom we were connected (in The Lumpy Kingdom at that time) another way to create solid posts.
So we started a collaborative series of posts which we call He Said He Said. To date, we have done 29 of these posts, which included an interview with Javier Rica, one of the founders of beBee.
We have had a lot of fun doing this, and don’t really see any end in sight for these columns. One of the reasons that these posts have attracted a substantial amount of views and engagement has to do with the fact that we do not edit them. We write them quickly so as to simulate, as closely as possible, a real time conversation.
But the thing that really makes it work, is the respect we have for each other as professionals.
And this brings me to the bigger point. Over the three years or so that I have known Phil and followed his writing, I have noticed that he has picked up more than his share of assholes (aka trolls), somehow seem intent on denigrating whatever ideas he is communicating in his posts.
I have picked up my share of them, as I’m sure most of us have, but Phil’s trolls are a little different, in that they don’t come and go like most trolls do. They stick around. They are like irritating little mosquitoes in your tent. They buzz and buzz, actually saying nothing of consequence, but their persistence can be both really irritating and, in a way, detrimental to your posts.
Phil’s trolls tend to have a holier-than-thou attitude. It comes across as a strange form of jealousy. But sadly for these trolls, they are not the intellectual equal of Phil. And though Phil always tries to be respectful, the constant badgering that these clowns do, will eventually get to anybody. So Phil lashes back at them. And while it makes for an interesting albeit weird comment stream, it really does tend to be a distraction.
After we both moved to beBee, the trolling continued for Phil and he had no recourse but to start complaining to Javier about it.
Sadly, the upshot of all this was that Phil, who is arguably the most popular English language blogger on beBee, was demoted from his brand ambassador status, and his two trolls were banned from the site. (IMHO, tossing the baby out with the bath water).
But then about a month later, one of them was back under a modified name. I’m sad to report that this guy is Canadian (definitely atypical), and seemed to have a rather unnatural attraction to Phil. He believed that Phil was a fraud. Which of course made him a crazy. This same guy also believed that I was too bitter and twisted and that my personal brand was fucked beyond repair, which, of course made him a pompous ass, especially when he had no personal brand of his own to speak of, wrote very few posts and spent most of his time trolling Phil full time and me occasionally.
Last night I got a Beezermail from Phil, (the Beezers are myself, Phil, Don 🐝 Kerr and Kevin Pashuk ), with a link to Phil’s latest post where he outlined his brilliant boat in a box idea.
The comment stream on this post was polluted by a couple of people one of whom was Phil’s pet Canadian troll and the other was from some guy in New Zealand, whose comments on both Phil’s and my posts are starting to show signs of ‘trollness’.
Fortunately, Javier has been following this and caught it. I admire the generosity of Javier in giving Phil’s troll a second chance, but when the showed up again, I let Javier know that it would probably be just a matter of a couple of weeks until he reverted to form and would have to be banned again.
Sure as hell, that’s what happened.
Why I Wrote This Post
I wrote this post so that people could really understand that Phil is not a drama queen of any sort. He is a damn good writer. He’s a really smart marketing person and knows, probably better than anybody I have ever met, how to create positive engagement on social media sites.
He has never, to my knowledge, attacked anyone. But he has had a steady stream of attackers over the years. I for one, admire the skill with which he deals with them.
The quality of Phil’s writing and the integrity he consistently shows is something we could all file under good role models to have.
Social media tends, in its way, to reflect the real world. The real world is becoming a more lawless place than it has been in my recent memory. It’s my hope that this lawlessness and chaos does not find its way here in any way that damages this site or victimizes anyone who belongs to it.
We need civility more than ever these days. And we need people like Phil, who have great ideas, communicate them extremely well and engage people in a positive way.
Jim Murray is a communication strategist, writer, art director, blogger and beBee brand ambassador for Canada. Charlene Norman, Jim’s partner In crime, is a business systems and operational analyst. Their collaboration is called Bullet Proof Consulting, located in St Catharines, Ontario and designed to serve forward thinking businesses in the Niagara and Golden Horseshoe regions of Southern Ontario. Web site coming soon.