Thanks to mobile technology, we can access Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and SnapChat on the go… Or in the comfort of our beds. As both consumers and creators, this implication is vital to remember.
Guy Kawasaki, social media expert, has this to say on the content you post on your social media:
“…generally speaking you should always be positive or you should be silent.”
-LinkedIn Learning Course: How To Rock Social Media
This quote reminds me of one of my mother’s favorite quips: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.
The power of social media is that you have the ability to reach a huge number of people instantaneously. My favorite analogy for this is to imagine myself standing on the top of a tower with a megaphone, screaming out whatever it is I’m posting.
This can be fairly neutral. “HEY EVERYONE. LOOK AT MY CAT, ISN’T SHE PRETTY?”
It can be positive. “I WANT YOU ALL TO KNOW MY FRIEND IS THE SWEETEST. SHE BROUGHT ME COFFEE AND A COOKIE SO I COULD MAKE IT THROUGH MY ALL-NIGHTER IN THE LIBRARY.”
Dangerously, it can also be negative, and this is where people get in trouble. “MY POLITICAL VIEWS ARE THE RIGHT VIEWS AND IF YOU DISAGREE YOU ARE A STOOPID HEAD.”
There is a time and a place for voicing your opinion, but I think people are sometimes too eager to express their views that they forget who their audience is. Posting something negative, condescending, whiny, argumentative, or offensive is not the same thing as having a reasonable discussion with your friends, family, or therapist. It is announcing to everyone you’re connected with (or the whole world, potentially, depending on your privacy settings) that you are too immature to constructively deal with the conflicts you face.
The actions people take are utterly out of your control. Here are the four I can think of from all my experience on social media platforms.
- They might engage in an argument with you– nothing irritates me more on Facebook than people on a looooong comment string that I am continuously notified of bickering about what is right and what is wrong. No one is winning in those situations. Mr. Kawasaki (quoted above) recommends adopting a 3-round limit. Round one: someone responds to your post. Round two: you respond. Round three: the person gives their final opinion. Boom. Done. If you have more to say, call this person up, invite them for coffee to discuss your differing views on this topic you both care about, or at least move to a private context. If you don’t have these luxuries because you don’t know this person, leave it be.
- Alternatively, your like-minded audience might commend you on your bravery for your #unpopularopinion which only reinforces bad behavior. Or if your opinion is the popular one, getting positive feedback will simply discourage you from seeing your posting behavior as problematic.
- Most people will ignore you because they don’t have anything nice to say and their mothers taught them to be respectful members of society.
- Lastly, some individuals will block you, unfriend you, unfollow you, or take some action to remove you from their lives. This action does not stay in the social media realm, either. I know I have intentionally not engaged with a casual acquaintance on campus who posted some fairly offensive things about women on Facebook.
In short, be mindful of what you post. You are transmitting what is on your mind into your audience’s homes. Make it positive! Otherwise, keep it to yourself–or at least off social media.