Council staff are people too. . .

The headline above is a phrase I must have uttered, thought and vented a few hundred times during my tenure as Web and Digital Media Officer working for a local Scottish Council.

With web content and all social media channels my main remit – I was used to dealing with members of the public – something I wasn’t used to was the abuse – the fairly constant drip of negative (and sometimes really nasty or offensive) comments on Facebook and Twitter.

As an avid user of social media personally – I’m also (at times) negative about bad customer service – tweeting my fury or telling my friends on Facebook to avoid a brand I had a bad experience with. I could deal with and empathise with this – but it usually went a few steps further – the trolls came out to play.

Troll me baby one more time.
Whenever a story was posted  – even a happy Facebook story about a child winning a christmas card competition – along comes a troll writing inflammatory anti-council comments and poops all over it.
Now I understand the power of social media to highlight issues, make people accountable and share injustice – but a child’s christmas card competition? Really?
When posting a link to a news article about funding cuts or closures – negative comments are expected, understood and managed appropriately – even the really vitriolic ones.
They were unhappy for a reason and once reminded of the social media acceptable use policy – usually calmed down a little.
It was the usual crowd of people (I still remember their names) who would practically comment on everything and be aggressive, hysterical or just a bit of an arse.
Don’t get me wrong I LOVE a really good whine – I could whinge and whine for hours if truth be told. It’s all about context though – which brings me to my point.
The message is lost when you do it all the time!
Like the boy who cried wolf – the troll who shouts “Your roads are a DISGRACE” every five minutes is lessening the impact of that diatribe with every angry slap of the keyboard.
The angry mob
I really disliked it when council staff were singled out for a bashing as well as if we were all one person – a few regular choice phrases were:
  • You pen pushers. . .
  • It’s raining outside – Why are you gritting?
  • Is this what MY council tax is used for?
  • I pay your wages!
  • As a parent. . .
  • The gritting on our roads is a DISGRACE!
  • Is this why we pay road tax?
  • If I was in charge I would. . .
  • Typical council…
I muttered ‘council staff are people too’ as a mantra to stop myself from getting annoyed. As the council employs over 3,000 staff in a county of well over 100,000 people  – it is very likely some of your family, friends or neighbours are council employees: from office/admin staff to wardens, parks staff, staff who work on the roads and staff who work in their big ivory towers – yes even them – are people too!
The likelihood of all employees being in agreement with every single decision made by the council is extremely low. They are also fully aware of what council tax is – as guess what THEY PAY IT TOO! Shocker.
To you Mr and Mrs Troll, next time you want to get angry and scream at someone – especially a council employee – remember they are part of your community and if you are angry at the organisation they work for – be angry at the organisation – not every single person who works for it. And if you really want to get your opinion heard, try speaking – in the real world and join your community council, maybe even stand for council in the next election.
Here are some of my troll responses – which I only ever uttered in my head:
  • You pen pushers. . .What do you even mean? – I am using a keyboard and I am tapping – have never ‘pushed a pen’
  • It’s raining outside – Why are you gritting? You are not the Met Office, nor are you speaking for the whole of the 4,732 km² surface of the Borders area. Cheers for the outside your window weather report though! Good to know the minutae of your archaic little world.
  • Is this what MY council tax is used for? Yes- yes it is. And for staff nights out.
  • I pay your wages! O.K. you technically do as I am a public servant, but you’re not the boss of me!
  • As a parent. . . Just because the sperm got to the egg – doesnt mean you have carte blanche to use those 3 words at the start of your sentence then proceed to be extremely offensive. Stop labelling yourself – leave that up to me – you GOON.
  • The gritting on our roads is a DISGRACE! Sorry I didn’t read that comment – it contained the most over-used whining word – DISGRACE- it actually makes my blood run cold – especially when used at the end – disgrace!!!!!
  • Is this why we pay road tax? Erm no it isn’t as nobody pays road tax – its called vehicular excise duty nowadays and the money is sent straight to the government.
  • If I was in charge I would. . .What?! You would what?! Make an utter hash of it as you appear to have done throughout your entire adult life as displayed on your OPEN Facebook page?!

I could go on – and on – as I said – I like to whine too.

Moral of this little story-tale – have context to your complaint – being angry at an organisation and then punishing everyone that works for it will not help your cause – it just makes you look like a bit of a dick. You my little troll are a DISGRACE.


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