Posts Tagged social media

Follow this – Why I don’t do Facebook politics – any more

nohostility

I did it again. I unfollowed a Facebook friend. I didn’t want to do it – I enjoyed seeing pictures of his growing family, and he was occasionally witty – but I grew tired of the bitterness and hostility of his posts. It’s ironic, because it was this kind of behavior that led to me to be banished by some of my own Facebook friends a few years ago.

It was in the depths of the 2009 economic downturn, and my business was struggling. Meanwhile, political leaders seemed to do everything possible to weaken the economy and the country I love. Social media made it easy to lash out.

It’s easy to find pictures, articles and video to give voice to your hostility. It’s much harder to think of how others might perceive them. It’s easy to involve yourself in fights with strangers who are hundreds of miles from your keyboard. It’s much more difficult not to add to the hostility. I did the easy thing almost every day.

If I saw a picture that was critical of the other side, I reposted it. When a political commentator wrote what I was thinking, I posted it, often with my own snide comments. When someone posted an opposing view, I challenged them. I made social media my battleground in a war to win minds.

Sure, some of my friends applauded my efforts, but they already saw things the same way I do. I wasn’t changing their thinking. I was fueling a wildfire. Likewise, those who I offended with my posts didn’t change their thinking. If anything, bitterness from the other side only strengthened their beliefs. I really wasn’t accomplishing anything but anger, and I got myself unfriended by a few who grew weary of my crusade.

I hate that I no longer see updates from the people who unfriended me. Social media is a fickle place, and it should never replace live human interaction, but it has brought me back in touch with several people. We might not ever talk or see each other again, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t care about each other’s lives. Social media allows us to stay in touch without really being in touch.

Because I value my friends, I won’t unfriend someone because of their political beliefs. I don’t care if you think our current president is a messiah or that conservative is another name for redneck. You might think that guns are to blame for crime and that trophy hunters are scum. It doesn’t matter to me. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend.

Initially, I was offended when others didn’t feel that way and unfriended me. How could someone be so petty to snub a friend over political views, I thought. Then, I backed off and observed the noise that continued. Some of it I agreed with, and some of it, I didn’t. If I agreed with it, the post usually incited me to anger, and if I didn’t, it still incited me to anger. I don’t want to be angry on social media or anywhere else for that matter, and I sure don’t want to spread that anger.

That’s why I unfollowed my friend’s posts. It’s not that I don’t respect him or his opinion. I just don’t want to be angry.

 

Note: You can unfollow someone and still remain Facebook friends. When you do this, you can still visit their page and see their posts, but their updates won’t appear in your newsfeed. It’s like not giving your obnoxious cousin your home address. If you don’t know how, it’s worth figuring out.

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Think Before Posting

Social media is a remarkable thing in that it gives not only friends and family, but perfect strangers, a pretty good insight into a user’s psyche. From the comfort of our living rooms, we learn who is positive and optimistic, who is negative and dramatic, who we should avoid and who we might like, if we actually met them in person.

This is good for those whose words match the pleasant thoughts in their heads, but not so good for those who struggle with negativity and who don’t take the time to consider what message their words convey. Their negativity screams out through their words, and has an adverse effect on attracting positive people and energy into their lives.

Many who consistently post negative messages seem unaware of the image they create for themselves through their words. In their mind, they are just blowing off steam; however, to someone who barely knows them, they are creating a very unattractive image – an image that will make it difficult for them to attract the positive energy that they so obviously need. They are scooping water into a sinking boat.

Before social media and even the Internet, astute people used journals and diaries to help them monitor their thinking and emotions. They knew that what they wrote impulsively and privately allowed them to see their thoughts on paper and make corrections, if necessary. The Internet changed that for a lot of people. Instead of keeping those thoughts private and quietly working to improve them, they published them instantly. Again, this can be positive if the poster’s thoughts are positive, but negative if the opposite is true.

One of my favorite sayings goes:

  • Mind your thoughts for they become your words;
  • mind your words for they become your actions;
  • mind your actions for they become your habits;
  • mind your habits for they become your character;
  • watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

In that hierarchy, the few moments before we press the share/post button fall between thoughts and words. When we are looking at what we just wrote or what cartoon or picture we are about to share, we are seeing our current state of mind. If we decide to post those thoughts, they instantly transmit an image of us to the world. Is it the image we intend or should we hit cancel, sign off and address our thoughts before proceeding?

Consider a post that I see several times on Monday morning: MONDAYS SUCK!

While it’s true that many employees try to wish away the first day of the work week, the vast majority of those keep that thought to themselves, because they recognize the negativity and lack of appreciation it conveys. Most social media users would recognize this too, if they took the time to evaluate their thoughts before sharing them.

What are you really saying when you say, “MONDAYS SUCK”? Obviously, you are voicing frustration that your weekend is over, and your time is obligated to work rather than pleasure. You’re not alone in that sentiment; many would prefer a life of leisure to one of productivity and to spend time with friends and family instead of at the factory or office. However, instead of saying “MONDAYS SUCK,” and proceeding to head into the first day of the week with dread and bitterness, these people approach their work week with a sense of purpose and resolve, understanding that work is essential to living for most people not yet retirement age.

They might also consider that their audience could include those with terminal diseases who hope to see as many Mondays as possible or, those who wish that they had a job to go to on Monday. Those are the people most likely to purse their lips and shake their heads at the MONDAYS SUCK post, but there are many others who dislike negative intrusions in their day. Among that latter group could be customers, clients and others whose opinions we value.

Your social media activity is part of your brand – how the world sees and values you. Just as Pepsi wouldn’t attach a pile of trash to its logo, don’t attach bitter and negative words and images to yours.

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