SCENE ONE. TAKE ONE.
Yesterday, I was interviewed by a reporter from one of our local television stations. He was seeking a spokesperson on social media and communication, with an interest in tantrums on Twitter, particularly from young students.
While I spoke on behalf of communication in general, his segment also featured a spokesperson from the Guilford County School District, which has started tweeting and is experiencing a high volume of student response using foul language and lacking communication respect.
During the interview, I recall the reporter asking me why I thought this happening. More importantly, he asked:
SCENE TWO. TAKE TWO.
This morning, as I flipped through the pages of my Self magazine, I came across an article entitled, “Reel in your Rant” by Annie Daly. She was addressing the need for self restraint when it comes to blowing off steam and sharing aggravation on your social media platforms. (She actually offers three bits of advice for a “detox plan.”)
Citing data from Topsy Data Services, Daly shared that hashtags #Rant and #TwitterRant were tweeted 33 percent more in 2013 than in 2012.
SCENE TWO. TAKE THREE.
Later in the afternoon, as I enjoyed working from home on a rare snow day, my ears perked up listening to the tv magazine show, The Insider. One of the reporters was sharing her own experiences of receiving racially insulting tweets on a fairly regular basis. She actually referred to the people who sent such tweets as “thumb thugs.”
I was left appalled.
Youth ranting, I get it. Work/life stress raving, I get that a little as well. Ranting and raving to someone based on their color? UNACCEPTABLE.
So this takes us back to the two questions raised earlier by the reporter:
Why is this happening?
Who is responsible for teaching social media etiquette?
In part, I believe this is happening because we do not value, and are therefore losing, interpersonal communication skills. There is no fear of accountability; respect isn’t even on the radar. It’s much easier to type words on a screen and hit send, tweet or post. It’s certainly much harder to look someone in the eye, especially someone you do not personally know, and spout off when you are standing face-to-face.
While I have been and remain an ardent advocate for social, it has expanded dialogue and conversations from across a table over a cup of coffee for 30 minutes to around the world with a laptop, phone or tablet in 30 seconds. We have ease; we have expanse. As a result, accountability and respect have been erased.
Who is responsible for etiquette? That ties back to accountability. Hold yourself accountable to what you are saying, as if you were speaking face-to-face. It also ties back to respect. Think the golden rule. It’s really just that simple.
I’d love to know your thoughts and welcome them via the comments section.