The number one question I ask posters of social media, “Are you hiding behind social media?” The sheer question can lead me down many paths; it’s simply mind-boggling. Social Media – the very place that music artist Drake poignantly stated, “Twitter fingers turn to trigger fingers…”. Yes even Drake can see the writing on the wall for how people use Social Media.
Social Media Lives in a Glass House
To Tweet or Subtweet, That is the Question
Social media lends itself to passive aggressiveness from its users of all ages. It gives you an opportunity to develop a layer of anonymity (or so you think) and with that confidence those fingers begin to do the walking. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read a succession of posts from someone – even strangers and felt, “gosh they’re mad”. Or I basically figured out their issue and I may not have known who they were or who they were directing their posts about. Scary right? So what’s up with that anonymity? It’s a funny thing about that, normally people who want to direct posts at someone say and do enough to get the person’s attention. The reality is they don’t want to be anonymous to their target, just to others who may negatively judge them. Truthfully, that's psychologically perverse.
So why don’t people just talk to each other?
That’s a great question! But people have always had difficulty confronting others with issues. If it was easy there would be no need for Crucial Conversations® now would there be? Resolving conflict is hard enough. Adding social media to the layers between you and the other person – that makes the possibility of resolution almost impossible.
Do they really want to resolve issues?
That’s a hard one. I’ve seen people go on and on about the same topic for multiple months, even years. It starts to feel like the person gets energized by the drama they create. That’s scary to think that one or more people would be interested in keeping the conflict going versus resolution. And yet here we are with case after case reported around the U.S. and world where conflict started on social media (and consequently exploded to something tragic).
Do they believe they’re hiding?
I think so. I believe people who seemingly create “beefs” with others using social media as their platform to spread their hate don’t fully understand what they’re doing. It’s like they’re “in the grip” (a psychological term) for an extended period of time. Their Amygdala has taken over and is not letting go. How is this possible? Those same people can seem so normal at times. But there’s something that triggers their erratic behavior – and then tweet-tweet, chirp-chirp – the world sees a new side to that person and their issues.
Blogs are a Feeding Ground for Trolls
The term “troll” seems like such a cruel term but it is a term in technology meant to describe a person who creates an alternate identity in social media for the purpose of posting whatever they choose including lurking on other accounts that may have blocked them. Wow that’s a scary thought that people are posting without regard to boundaries and in some cases without a moral compass. Let’s also not forget that the circumstance expands to new people who then begin to respond to the trolls. The original issue is long gone and people are just yapping (to use an old southern country term). Ever read a blog article and then review the comments? It is mind-boggling to see the twists and turns responders take - many of which are not even related to the original blog post.
It all sounds like a mess; and with social media that mess gets documented on timelines, with dates, time stamps, etc. I’ve even seen people post highly offensive and negative remarks on their public social media account to only delete it hours or days later. I’m thinking, why did you bother to post it at all? It seems fruitless if you’re constantly posting and deleting messages. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re an adult. Use your time wisely in the social media space – be productive. Leave the “trigger fingers” to the rappers who battle for your entertainment dollars.
Poster in Denial
I believe that good people get caught up in posting badly. They start with minor offenses. Somewhere along the way there is an instigator that either provokes or promotes their behavior. Next thing we all know, the “good” person has gone “bad”. One of the best exercises I have done with groups is to print out the prior 12 months of their social media posts (including their likes). I then remove the identifying labels (names, pics, etc.) and randomly give each packet to the group. You guessed it, shock and awe ensues as they read what some of their co-workers have posted. Most of the time I get the statement, “this is not real”…”no one here posts like this.” And then the owner of those posts turns red because their “Twitter fingers” are exposed. Keep in mind I’m only printing what is public information which means anyone could have seen the messages.
Many posters are so focused on a topic or target that they forget the whole world is watching too.
Social Media Health Check Recommendations
DO review your social media and remove messaging that is inconsistent with your brand – with who you are
DO take your accounts private if your messaging is not “ready for the world”
DO consider removing characteristics about yourself that can self-identify you (there are some scary people out there)
DO remove your birthday – identity theft is real and it’s still a huge problem
DON’T stop posting – just improve your posts one character at a time.
I hope this article was a helpful reminder about social media and the harm that can happen when you stop looking at the bigger picture for yourself and your goals.