Social media is the best thing since sliced bread. It makes connecting with old friends a breeze. Running a business using it means you can reach thousands cost effectively. But… it is not always a safe place.
If you are faint of heart and sensitive, be prepared for backlash when offering your opinions or observations.
I am not talking about the way out there we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore opinions; the weird and wonderful opinions that sounds more like a sci fi novel, I’m talking about any old opinion about any old thing from the inane and to the innocuous. Opinions about things that are not going to change the world like what you think about the latest reality TV program or marketing tactic for business or if feeding your kids Vegemite on toast is an ok dinner opens you up to commentary from those supporting your position to those who would disagree if you said the sky was blue.
One of the most dangerous places for those who may be faint of heart are Facebook groups, especially women in business groups. These can be a place of sunshine and rainbows with the warm and fuzzies you get from being in the sisterhood of shared experiences to a den of snarling trolls who are outraged by anything they disagree with. It’s a jungle out there.
You post an observation about the latest marketing for a women’s fashion range – be prepared to be cut down and criticised for women shaming and being old fashioned.
You post about an interaction at a local business where you were treated unfairly – be prepared to be called a whinger and sook.
You asked for help with a business challenger and the peanut gallery took you to task for your mistakes, instead of offering guidance and help.
You post a story about your child with autism and the report card you wrote to boost their confidence, be prepared to be told what a bad parent you are.
When did we become this society that jumps down people’s throats for putting our thoughts out there?
For those building a business and wondering why engagement on social media is down, you may want to check with the keyboard warriors, the great outraged who feel it is their place to be the grammar Nazis, holders of all that is pure and clean, the interest groups who feel their way is the only way, ‘I’m just being honest’ responders (but are really just being brutal and blunt), and the ones who don’t bother to read the whole post but fall for the click bait.
People are not engaging because they are afraid of the outrage. In a world where we are told ‘everyone is entitled to an opinion’, social media has become a battleground for those who dare to express themselves.
It is hard to work out what is offensive these days because it seems that just about anything, and everything, can set people off. It is safer to stay lurking in the background, than risk being attacked. Many have forgotten the person on the other keyboard is a human being with feelings and their own challenges in life.
Somewhere, somehow, it has become ok to shame and ridicule people about how they raise their kids, what they wear, what they eat or don’t eat, where they holiday, what music they listen to, how they do business and just about anything that makes us human.
I get this article will not stop people being nasty. But if you’re reading it, and you feel that twinge of guilt about the way you responded to a Facebook or Insta post and it wasn’t something your grandma would be proud of, check yourself next time you go to respond, read it out loud and ask:
- Am I being kind?
- Is what I am saying helpful and constructive?
- If I said this to my child or my partner, would I be adding value to their life or making them feel bad?
- Am I adding value to the conversation or just being picky/nasty/mean?
If you can answer yes to all these questions, post away. If not, just delete and move on.
Follow my grandma’s advice ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’