Let me start by saying that social media platforms, blogs and forums are in my view here to stay and are a terrific way to connect on a global basis. There’s a great deal of positives in various online and social media behaviours, but like any medium of communication it can be used and abused in all manner of ways. In my other life I work with resolving problematic client behaviours, so whether I like it or not I generally have a radar for such matters and here are a few thoughts. Some of the stuff online is so crazy that you really couldn’t make it up!
The amplification & distortion factor
Social media platforms and online forums often create a very distorted world for many people. Individuals can behave in very odd and ill advised ways which they would never do in real life situations. These platforms create a global reach for individuals and businesses in a way nobody could have dreamed of in past times, BUT this comes at a price. This year Facebook officially hit 2 billion users, almost a 17% increase from 2016 and making it the world’s most popular social networking site. Many people are literally addicted to FB and live in the FB world with endless posting. Its also increasingly acknowledged that many people get their “news” via social media and other online forums which also often creates a very distorted picture of what is going on in the world.
The disassociated nature of social media platforms means people can often blast out unfiltered thoughts that can result in all manner of negative personal and business implications . In extreme cases individuals can find themselves in libelous situations and often its possible to even destroy a business brand simply by not thinking before posting online.
Social Media Backlash
Business owners, promoters and artists can engage in using social media to create all manner of distorted impressions often suggesting “big is best” and a level of exclusivity that is mostly manufactured by careful online manipulations. Sometimes companies can spent substantial amounts of money on adverts that can receive a massive backlash on social media.
Social media and other online discussion platforms create instant feedback opportunities and these can result in a domino effect that just escalates and escalates, especially if there is a lot of negative feedback. A recent example is a new travel company advert which was a big budget production, but generated a huge amount of negative press on social media, blogs and on forums. I feel sorry for the singer who now is forever negatively described on Google This is a bit unfair as I know that singer has done far better work and this very short clip is not a true representation of her skills. Even worse many attributed the actress in the clip as being the singer, so her reputation similarly received a lot of negativity. This is another example of online perceptual distortions, which are increasingly common these days.
The acclaimed restaurant that didn’t exist
Increasingly people look to review sites in making purchasing choices. Once again this can be used to great effect BUT also can create a very distorted picture of reality and often people believe 100% of what they read online…
Recently a freelance writer created a restaurant in London which became one of the most highly rated restaurants in London with stunning reviews in TripAdvisor. It was talked about endlessly on social media. There was one small problem – IT DIDN’T EXIST IN REAL LIFE
According to The Washington Post
“He listed its location as the street he lived on with no address, calling it an “appointment-only restaurant,” to make himself less vulnerable to fact-checkers and would-be customers.
And then, Butler writes, the first miraculous thing happened: It was approved by TripAdvisor to be listed in May. The restaurant started out as the 18,149th ranked restaurant in the city: dead last.
So he began having family and friends flood the site with fake but real-seeming reviews.
“Spent a weekend in London and heard through the grapevine that this place is a must-visit,” one chimed in. “After a few mildly frustrating phone calls I was in.”
Some reviewers included some vaguely unsavory details seemingly meant to enhance their credibility: one wrote about being offered a blanket with a stain, but still gave the restaurant five stars. Out of the 104 reviews left on the site by early December, more than 100 were for five stars, its top rating. The remainder? Four stars.”
Grand announcements for imminent departures
Many people who spend significant times on social media can begin to attribute a quite ludicrous sense of importance to such platforms. FB in particular ban become their whole world and this again creates all manner of status and attention seeking.
One of the funniest comments I have seen in recent times online was when someone suggsted
“This is not like an airport, you don’t need to announce any departures…”
This usually results in grand announcements of imminent departures, often I suspect hoping for mass calls of “PLEASE STAY!” This kind of behaviour of course assumes an extraordinary level of self importance. This is classic attention/status seeking behavior and in many cases such individuals can’t stay away for long as their sense of importance comes from their online participation usually on a daily basis. There seems to be a compulsion to announce all thinking without any kinds of filters.
Examples of this social media behaviour include
“I’m thinking of withdrawing from posting on this thread” (while posting this comment and adding to the thread content)
“I’m sickened by reading some of the posts here each day” (while continuing to read EVERY SINGLE post and pm others about them)
Of course simply not commenting or announcing one’s “thoughts” means that you don’t remain the center of attention…
Often even if such individuals they don’t have any actual “news”, they will post comments like
“I’m thinking positive thoughts”
This maintain ongoing commentary and ensures that the poster remains in the spotlight for discussions. Its another sign of social media hyperactivity.
Blocking on social media?
Sometimes to preserve your own sanity with the craziness online its a very good idea to firewall or block those characters that endless contribute to the noise level. I am a fan of fire walling or blocking against such characters which makes social media a far more pleasant experience. Let me be clear I’m happy to debate with others with strong and different experience, but some people can’t manage basic good manners. I have absolutely no problem with people expressing opinions (although the above statement makes no sense on any level) but I don’t really have the inclination or disposable time to engage with such folks.
The strangest and funniest comment was from one character in recent times was –
“NICK CODY – CHILL YOUR FUCKING BOOTS”
I’ve commented on this before as its more than a bit odd to say the least, especially as he is described as “a social media manager” It will however appear as a lyric in a song at some point, so at least the exchange had some use!
Keep your sense of humor and sanity
Social media is here to stay. The good news is that you can now literally connect with people all across the world. The bad news is that you can now connect with people all across the world. Personally I always welcome good debate and respect people who stick to their views even if I disagree. I have always found that a good sense of humor demonstrates good emotional intelligence and people who take themselves way too seriously tend to be too full of their own sense of self importance.
I have met some terrific people online who are now friends in real life. Ultimately of course social media is simply a medium for communication. It can be used to great effect as well as being totally crazy and quite destructive. There’s no requirement to reply to questions online or feel “driven to comment” on other’s views.
Social media platforms can be massively inspirational and useful. With the OUS platform we have over 3000 members and on the main OUS page (www.originalukulelesongs.com) there are 115 artists with their own individual pages. All those artists came from social media. In my view the key to useful interactions is ensuring there are respectful discussions and good manners. Also its useful to define the purpose of any group, so conversations are on topic. We can agree to disagree but nobody is trying to dictate to everyone else about how they should think and behave!
Finally to paraphrase Groucho Marx –
“These are my opinions. If you don’t like them, I have others”