I have spent nearly 3 years heavily involved in the practice of social media activism. I have learned one distinct lesson:
* Very little good comes from participating in online forums.
LinkedIn is a masterful tool, I benefit greatly from writing this blog, and I hope my involvement in Twitter brings inspiration to others...? 100% of the time that I have participated in a LinkedIn group discussion, Wiki open forum or a blog debrief; my thought intent has been taken out of context, co-horts have ganged up on others, personal opinion has overwhelmed healthy discussion, and cyber-bullying has been the end result.
In 2010, we saw people initiatives created to protect young people from one another in cyberspace...laws enacted to prevent cyber-bullying. Guess what, cyber-bullying is just as prevalent in HR forums lead by industry veterans.
There seems to be a strong case mounted for free speech on the internet. Unfortunately, freedom of common sense and/or the ability to promote thought (instead of deterring it) seems to be on hiatus.
There are those waiting at lap top to pounce on anyone brave enough to promote ideas (original or otherwise). There exists a group of so-called experts that promote unwritten standards for social media and elect themselves to police social media forums with only malicious intent in mind.
It's not working! LinkedIn groups have lost their focus; invaded by spammers, negative thought and assumed right of authority. One cannot blog a collection of personal ideas in an effort to empower others without having their positive intent torn down and ridiculed.
So here are my suggestions for Social Media interaction in 2011:
* Encourage Only Healthy Discussion
* Make It A One Way Street
* Stop Participating
Keep Fighting the Good Fight
I just saw a posting from a so called 'social media expert' filled with infantile ideas. I applauded her post while others sited case studies and their assumed standards to disparage her advice. She had the courage to write the article, she put herself in the game....those who sit on the sidelines with arms crossed have no right to pass judgement on the Quarterback.
If you are going to put yourself out there you have to channel opinions into facts or points of encouragement. You have to develop the ability to ignore opinion fueled detractors and empower those who recognize courage.
Where social media forums dissolve is when two people bicker back and forth in front of thousands. Develop a strong entry and own it....you DO NOT have to defend your thought process!
...or you may choose to give up on these forums all together...and I don't blame you if you do. If you have a job to do, a child to look after, or a team to coach; you cannot have your day derailed by the opinion of a nameless, faceless, avatar with only ill intent in mind.
So next time you see a post by a person that seems off base, think about 2 things:
1. Is this person's intent to empower others?
2. What will be the potential backlash to my comments?
Keep it positive, do not let your ego override logic and do not respond to people who are only interested in picking a fight!
You only get one reputation...OK, you get two(one online and the other 'real life' reputation). Either way, you would hate to be denied the Presidency for a comment you made 10 years prior.
Inform, Encourage and Be Strategic!
Don't Forget to Remember!