Adversity doesn’t create character, it reveals it.
Over the last few years, there’s been a growing sentiment that social media has become more and more toxic, especially in regards to the discussions happening around news and politics. I’ve heard many people say they have left Facebook completely because they were overwhelmed by the constant arguing and finger-pointing.
Since 2020 is an election year, we all knew it was going to get bad on social media. What none of us expected was for covid-19 to happen. The election, plus much of the country being on lockdown for most of the year has understandably put all of us under a huge amount of pressure. We are worried about how to deal with a real or likely loss of income. We are worried about the health of ourselves and our families. We are worried about the future.
What troubled me, and I especially saw this on Twitter, was how people reacted to the spread of covid. Many people became judgmental, shaming people for not reacting in a certain way or for not taking certain issues or developments in the way that they felt was appropriate. Instead of being understanding and compassionate. I saw too many people judging and attacking.
And what stunned me, was that many of these people were in my Twitter network. Some of these people were friends I had followed for years. On the one hand, I would tell myself that they are worried and scared and rightly so. On the other hand, we are ALL worried and scared, and rightly so. Being scared and worried doesn’t excuse you from being an asshole. And a lot of people I followed on Twitter were exhibiting this behavior.
So I decided to ‘de-tox’ my Twitter network. I effectively unfollowed 60% of my network over about a month. But I started thinking about this, and realized this isn’t a Twitter issue, it’s a social media issue. People are being jerks on Facebook just like they are on Twitter. Every community has its jerks. If they are in the minority, it’s easy to ignore and overlook them. But when the jerks become the majority and start creating and dominating the conversations, I want to opt-out.
That brings me back to blogging. Literally.
The one thing that I’ve always loved about blogging is the power it gives you to share your voice. It gives you the ability to have a say, to share your thoughts with the world. Today’s social media world is based around the soundbyte. 140-character missives designed to spark instant engagement. Often emotionally-charged attacks and insults that people are compelled to immediately respond to.
It’s the complete opposite of a conversation. It’s yelling in 140 characters, the person that yells the loudest gets the most Likes and RTs.
Blogs are different. Blogs are where you can have your say fully and completely. You can use 140 characters, or you can use 140,000 if you want.
I’ve talked before about the 4-step process for creating advocacy; Interaction leads to Understanding leads to Trust leads to Advocacy.
On social media, we often never have those interactions. We yell at each other and talk at each other instead of to each other.
With a blog, you have a chance to have your say. You have a chance to state your opinions and make your case with as many or as few words as you need. You can then respond in the comments, or via email or even on your own blog.
But more than anything, I’m tired of the yelling. We need less yelling and more listening. We need less judgment and more empathy.
We need to be better people. That’s what I think, and it’s a lot easier to say that here, than it is on social media.