just for the one-thousandth time I heard “delete twitter,” or insert whichever social network is getting you aggravated. This time, it Elon Musk (or you can insert anyone) tweeted something stupid, and the reaction is to tell him to get off of twitter. But, is it really twitters fault. In fact, I can’t seem to go a day or two without someone else posting something on twitter and then apologizing. Everyone from an editor that was hired at the NY Times, to athletes, to politicians seem to decide to engage in stupidity on social networks.
I am not perfect, and in my personal life there are people who annoy me who I often engage, and not “sub-tweeting” here about those people when I chose to engage, it is usually with that person directly. But what I don’t do is take that engagement to social media. When I was younger, I was taught there were two ways to deal with bullies, either engage them or walk away. Bruce Lee was big in not engaging. His philosophy was if we were not going to fight to the death, don’t engage at all. In fact, in much of his teachings is how to avoid a fight, or get out of one quickly. For some reason, people think if they are engaged via social media, they need to respond.
So why if we are taught in kindergarten, no to engage bullies, that we almost insist on engaging people thru social media? After that, we then blame social media for our actions? Well, the second question is easier, it is much easier to blame social media tools than ourselves. Our brains have a natural defense mechanism, we need to protect, and keep the status quo, Blaming Twitter is easier than saying “I should have known better” Learning how not to engage is something I hope my children learn. Many of us have not grown up where things are public, and stay online forever, that we have gotten away with many little mistakes we have made. Now when someone makes a mistake, it is online forever.
But is there something in the way we are wired that want us to have the last word, that wants us to publically show that we are the alpha, that we have won the battle? It is one of the things I would like to know. I do know that I have often thought about posting about something (political, social commentary, opinion) on social media and thinking about the reaction. Mostly I think about the positive reaction of people “liking.” In 99.9% of the times, I don’t post. I gave in a week or so ago as I saw social media stocks (please not at the time of that post and this writing I have zero direct investment in any of them, if a mutual fund I have does have I don’t know about it directly) getting pounded for what I thought was a positive moral move, but of course a bad for business move.
The notion to want to be accepted, to be like is wired into many of us. I see it with myself, and my children on social media. Many posts to see who can get the most likes, in fact asking each other for likes. One of the best ways to get likes, it to push on peoples emotions. To strike an emotional like often takes something that could be a bit controversial. Of course, although it may garner likes from one side of people, another group its extremely negative. I will go back to the NY Times editor, who tweeted often derogatory posts about white people. Her followers loved it, of course now getting hired by the NY Times it is a little bit under scrutiny. In the pre-internet days, her extent of her reach would be close friends who she could state her opinion, and it went no more than the circle of people who heard it. By posting on twitter, yes she has a better reach, but it is also a permanent record. I am not sure if its better if someone is a closet racist or an open one, but becoming an open one at least gives us the choice what to do with that information. I also don’t know what her punishment should be, but maybe that will be another post.
Back to our engaging on social media, we then look at the certain things, lately the election, and try to blame the result on social media. People were manipulating advertisements and posting to get groups a people to vote, and in some cases not to vote. The question is, whose fault is that. I’ll go back to the fact that those of us who did not grow up with social media, we do not know how to deal with it properly, that we do not have the tools in our brain to properly digest it. But does that make it the platforms fault? Again I hope my kids are better equipped to handle it, but as people, we need to think about what we read, and figure out what is actually worthwhile or not. We also need to gather to tools and information to follow, friend or like items so that our feed is not riddled with the waste. All things that will come in time.
Lastly, we need to learn social etiquette well maybe social media etiquette. Not that we should act like we do in person, as social media is not in person. But we need to teach our brains that the likes, the reactions, the group mob mentality is not what makes social media a better place. Figuring out what would make social media a better place for us, is a journey, one we need to understand we will make missteps, and have to alter course. We need to weed out those from our world that don’t add value and find the sweet spot of views that can get us to grow and empathize with others, instead of the constant finger point. We need to not bubble ourselves so we only see one side, but understand there are people who are articulate and argue with logic, not with hate.
This is not an overnight answer. We have to be patient and understand the only way to succeed is to go through failures. There is not a quick answer, it is not a 1/2 hr sitcom where everything is resolved between commercials. We must avoid calling out and shaming people to remove them, but just to ignore them and simply unfollow. Those who are fighting with anger who have no one listening will lose their voices. We need to find those who are willing to have open discussions and realize the difference of opinions is not a fight, but an opinion. Right now the people winning the social media are, are those who are insighting emotion and anger, and that should not be. Its not Facebook or Twitters fault, it is our collective fault, and that is a hard solution, as it easier to delete social media or regulate them, but the problem will still be there till we improve ourselves.
My world famous disclaimer… so, this blog has nothing to do with my current or past employers. I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone. I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind. If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark. Thanks for reading. I apologize for not moving to https, it not a cheap thing to do, when i find a way to do it easily I will make it. But not having logins, posts etc, there is almost no need.