Anger and aggression in our socialsphere
Recently, I was interviewed by a reporter from one of our local television stations. He was seeking a spokesperson on social media and communication, with a particular focus on youth-related tantrums on Twitter.
While I spoke on behalf of communication in general, the segment also featured a spokesperson from the Guilford County School District. The district has started tweeting as an organization 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:
It’s not just TV talking about our social tantrums
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.
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 utterly appalled after hearing about her experiences.
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 and 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.
So who is responsible for teaching and ensuring we have social etiquette?
Basically, it’s on each of us as individuals and our own personal accountability.
If one by one we did this, the socialsphere would slowly evolve into a respectful domain of dialogue.
Seems to me it might just be as simple as the golden rule.
I would love to know your own thoughts and personal or professional experiences regarding social media etiquette.