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Kara's Corner

Standing Your Ground, Part 2: Keeping it Classy Online

July 20, 2017

In my last post, I explored a common issue. Sometimes when you’re out flying a drone, you’ll get approached by a park ranger, police officer, or authority figure who’s not familiar with the laws governing UAVs. The overall takeaway? Keeping a calm, cool demeanor while arguing your case with facts will yield the most beneficial outcome for everyone involved.

The drone industry is still in its infancy. Anyone flying as a hobbyist or professional is going to browse online forums, Facebook groups, plus other social properties like Reddit for unfiltered opinions and solid advice from real people. Furthermore, sharing your own work is the best method for getting constructive feedback plus exposure to a new audience.

Unfortunately, not everyone plays nice or conducts themselves in a respectable manner. Depending on where you post, you may run into hostile folks who believe drones are dangerous and their operators irresponsible. Others simply need to fill a void in their lives and will type things that they wouldn’t dare say to a person’s face.

Most of the time, it isn’t worth addressing rude behavior. However, as an ambassador and evangelist, I feel it’s my duty to educate people on the rules, risks, and benefits of flying an unmanned aerial vehicle. There’s still some fear, not to mention a lot of misconceptions, surrounding drone use and I want to help mitigate it when possible. Not everyone has taken kindly to my arguments and I’ve been on the receiving end of some strongly-worded attacks.

Read on to find out how I’ve argued my case, in a classy way, and some tips I have for standing your ground while maintaining your credibility.

Thanks to this column, plus other gigs with high-profile companies in the drone industry, I’ve built a strong online presence in the past year. While I’ve received a great deal of support and positive feedback, people also felt it was necessary to call me a “sell out,” “amateur,” “living, breathing commercial,” and a garden variety of demeaning names. I don’t let it bother me, but I have stood up for myself in certain situations.

Recently, I shared an article about traveling with your drone. I mentioned the PolarPro DroneTrekker backpack and a user on Reddit immediately discredited my article as “PolarPro spam.” I decided to challenge his claim.

I wish I had collected screenshots of the responses as he clearly didn’t know what a pun or oxymoron was. My final challenge:

That ended the argument. The user deleted all of his comments, out of embarrassment, and hasn’t engaged me since. When you insist that someone back up their statement with facts, and they don’t have any, they’ll fold.

In another instance, I was accused of potentially endangering the lives of nonexistent pedestrians after posting a drone photo of the massive Salesforce Tower in downtown San Francisco. This is not something I take lightly and felt it necessary to step in, explain my process for legally capturing the image, and stress that in no way was anyone’s well-being put at risk.

Once again, the user deleted all comments when they realized they were not only in the wrong but also severely downvoted.

Some people lose their temper. Don’t stoop to their level. This particular user deleted this comment and pretty much everything else they’ve ever posted on their Reddit account. Keep going and don’t get discouraged when you encounter expletive-ridden responses.

Based on my experience, here are some rules I like to follow when engaging in dialogue that may not be pleasant:

  1. DON’T name call. Nothing diminishes your credibility as much as acting childish. You may be in the right and have facts to back up your claims. Life still resembles high school, in some ways, but that shouldn’t excuse you from resorting to simple forms of intimidation.
  2. DON’T use foul language. Sure, it might feel good to drop the f-bomb initially. Again, the user on the receiving end plus any other participants in the conversation aren’t going to think highly of you.
  3. DON’T make it personal. While I, as a woman, have been on the receiving end of a few sexist remarks, I’ve chosen to either ignore it or report it to an admin/moderator. Not so fast, ladies. I’ve seen a comment or two questioning the size of a guy’s anatomy when he doesn’t agree with you. Objectification goes both ways and simply isn’t acceptable.
  4. DON’T ridicule anyone. I’m always willing to engage in respectful dialogue if the person on the other end extends the same level of courtesy. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, if it’s sincere.
  5. DO provide facts, any links to support your point, and other relevant information. Making an accusation about a product, service, or individual without explaining your reasoning won’t get you very far.
  6. DO hold others accountable. If I get an off-color comment or my integrity is challenged, I’ll hold that person accountable for their words. “Why do you say that?” or “what do you suggest?” are good starter questions to stoke the conversation. I’ve even requested people share links to their own work.

Overall, we still have work to do when it comes to educating the public on the safety of drones. Within the industry, there are individuals who don’t act in a mature, considerate manner and detract from the groups they participate in regularly. It’s important to remember that you’re representing any business you’re connected to, not to mention yourself. Your reputation is the only thing that matters at the end of the day. Hopefully these tips will help you turn the tide in less than ideal interactions.

Featured image:

Kara Murphy is a Part 107-certified remote pilot and writer based in Midwest.Follow her on Instagram for her more artistic aerial imagery, find out how to hire her here.

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