Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and is a major medium for how many of us communicate with each other.
I have been running the OUS FB group for 2 years now and it continues to be a fascinating experience. Fortunately I also have two excellent moderators to help with this and we are now well over 3000 members with 108 artists now with their own pages at www.originalukulelesongs.com.
The OUS FB page was not my only experience of running such a group of course, and the behaviors of people online can be quite fascinating in all manner of ways. I also am a member of a few select FB groups which can allow connections to some really terrific folks
First, the good news
Lets start with some good news…
There is a certain joy to setting up and running a successful social media group and seeing it develop. On the OUS platform I have been amazed at the diversity and quality of what has been posted. We have a wide range of different artists from all over the globe with a common interest in creating original music. One of the reasons the group works so well is that it has very specific parameters for posting. this means there’s good focus with what appears online and its a very respectful supportive space for artists.
Running such a group can be a fair amount of work and of course I run the main site as well which requires some investment of time and money. Advances in technology mean that social media platforms like FB allow people to connect in ways that were never previously possible. Similarly with WordPress its very easy to create websites that look great and be updated easily.
With the OUS platform, there’s no commercial benefit for me personally, I do it for the love of music. When people talk about it being “my group” I remind them that its “our group” and a collaborative project. Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and its a brilliant way to connect instantly with people all over the world with similar interests. Of course we are all individuals so there will be differences as well and its always worth remembering that. As an old Japanese proverb states “No one of us is smarter than ALL of us”
Ok, stop reading now if you only want good news…
The “bad news”
The bad news is that whenever you set up or often visit a forum, you will inevitably discover a wide range of differing views, which in itself is no bad thing. Inevitably you will get some people who want to shout loudest and insist that “they are right” and everyone else should agree with them. This insistence creates a tendency towards attention seeking and this can create all kinds of problems. I don’t doubt that the shouter feels that they have a valid view, but it would be IMO useful if they considered that its just one point of view among many. As well as individual shouters there are what I call “shouter followers” (usually 6 – 10) who then automatically “like” everything the shouter posts. Let me be clear, everyone is welcome to say what they think, but often this group activity is in my 100% biased view done without a great deal of real consideration and is often an emotional reaction. Often “shouter posts” get withdrawn quickly when the shouter themselves realizes that the emotionally fueled post is not the best communication and may in extreme cases result in some legal action if it falls into the defamation category.
There have been lots of studies on people who have imagined superiority and in the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is.
Fortunately with OUS this doesn’t happen much as such folks are usually not creative types and seem to be more preoccupied with telling other folks “how they should behave” even though of course it’s not their group!
Humor is always welcome and I’m perfectly serious about that
One of the challenges in running a FB group is that people will inevitably have different views and sometimes individuals can forget to be respectful of others. In extreme situations people can start to insist how others “should behave” failing to appreciate the value of discussion and debate. I have always found a good sense of humor is helpful in encouraging dynamic and interesting discussions.
A lack of humor is often a sign that somebody has a very polarized opinion. Its not that they are “right” or “wrong” rather that they have a very narrow perspective and “feel they are right” despite any evidence to the contrary! When we take ourselves too seriously people become very polarized and this creates unhelpful unproductive arguments where people are more concerned with “being right” than actual genuine discussion and debate.
The Plain Crazy
You really couldn’t make up some things that are posted online. Some individuals blast out the same post to countless groups with zero consideration. They usually never contribute to the group discussion. Other crazy examples are where people post content that has no connection to what the group is actually about.
Some people spend literally hours and hours online living in “a virtual world” I have met others who insist that everybody is constantly talking about them on a daily basis! Unless you are the president of the USA in 2017, I suspect that’s a bit of a reach…
Think before you post
In running any site its smart to be very mindful of the difference between “fair comment” and libel.
Sometimes posters can get really fired up and not appreciate what they are posting. If someone makes blanket defamatory statements this can cause all kinds of problems for the poster and potentially the owner of the FB group. The law has changed in recent years and the penalties can be quite severe. Essentially “Think, BEFORE you post online” In my other life I took out a harassment order against one individual who posted defamatory comments online.
If you are on the receiving end its wise to take screenshots. You can also back up your entire FB page quite easily which can be a useful exercise. Most groups that have niche interests will attract enthusiasts and sometimes theses will form groups and attempt to direct everything that happens on the group. This is why its smart to have moderators and set out the basic guidelines for posting on the page.
Voltaire and Napoleon’s had something to say
Voltaire was quoted as saying
“I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It”
I think discussion and debate are how we all learn and FB along with other social media platforms offer a terrific opportunity for this. Of course the downsize as already mentioned is that people can start shouting about how in their view everyone else “should behave”
“Imagination rules the world”
“Imagination can be a brilliant creative tool, BUT the downside is that sometimes because somebody imagines something, they believe it to be 100% factually true.
I have lost count of the numbers of examples for this and usually when imagination is in full flow, the person makes massive generalizations and exaggerations.
Here are some examples of exchanges from 2017
“A lot of people are very unhappy about what you posted on your social media page”
“Wow, that’s interesting, who exactly is concerned? When you say “a lot” do you mean like 50 or more?”
“No not that many?”
“Ok, so 10 or more?”
“No, not that many”
“Ok, so less that ten, possibly way less than 10. Who exactly is unhappy? They are welcome to contact me directly with any concerns and I’m happy to discuss as in my view discussion is useful”
“They don’t want to discuss, I just thought “you should know”
“Thanks for the feedback”
My point is that online and especially on FB, people often post in haste and can be prone to massive exaggeration. Of course speaking without thinking and exaggeration have not come into being with the advent of social media, these traits have always existed. When one person insists how EVERYONE else SHOULD BE, then we are in my 100% subjective biased opinion on a slippery slope and in what I term “the plain crazy” category. Others may disagree and if so once again I am happy to side with Voltaire in your perfect right to do so!
Lets end on some more good news
Lets end on a positive. FB groups can be fascinating places to connect up to people you would never otherwise meet in daily life. When I was in an Austin guitar store a guy shouted out “Hey Nick Cody, I know you from FB!”
My band’s first overseas festival invite came from being spotted on social media and I’m playing in NYC in 2018 again from an invite on social media. I have also made some great friends who I now meet up with in real life. Despite some of the tantrum outbursts online, overall running a FB group is a rewarding experience and offers terrific opportunities to discuss and debate, which of course is how we all learn, isn’t it?