[ NOTE: These tips relate to ‘digital civility’ and mindfulness. These are just 2 of 23 high essential lessons taught within my Walking The Ridge remote solution for company teams, individuals, or college students ]
There is online bait everywhere. Individuals whose feelings, biases, or motives lead them into either strategically or emotionally creating content. Often it is a post, or comment on a post involving the news, social issues, and current societal challenges.
This time it is on the very sad and unfortunate death of George Floyd – including incident, video footage, subsequent riots, looting, vandalism, additional deaths, as well as the eventual arrest of and murder charge for officer Derek Chauvin.
In no way am I stating that we shouldn’t have opinions or views on this very serious matter. However, let’s be careful to recognize that there is an emotional hornet’s nest of direct, indirect, and loosely-related issues opening up at many different levels.
We need only take a look at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or even the online news to see the multitude of posts, stories, and comments. A good portion of the created or commented-upon content contains 🤬heated, judgmental, hostile, prejudicial, and shame-based content, which is highly ⚡ charged and polarizing.
Some of this content may be purposed ‘bait’ to purposely anger individuals or even entire groups of people to become offended and react through bringing more ‘digital heat’. Other times, it is simply heated opinions and comments that we disagree with…yet we feel compelled to opine.
For each of us personally, emotions around incidents such as George Floyd should be a time for us to evaluate our core values and identity. It should also be a time for practicing mindfulness around well-timed and strategically placed responses if elected. In the face of our strong agreement or disagreement, we must recognize that there can often be a big difference made on actions between our executive vs. emotional brain.
Even those with the best intentions and kindest of hearts can fall prey to ‘amygdala hijack’, as well as the emotionally-fueled post-comment backlash from other individuals and groups. Emotional rants vs. strategically-placed comments can become a difference-maker in results to your reputation, friendships, collegial relationships, as well as doors that open or close on your current and future career.
I have had good friends who lost senior company roles because they jumped into like, dislike, or comment on content they later wish they hadn’t. One who jumped in to comment on a post containing a key company decision around a very sensitive issue.
It backfired badly! Those who opposed his opinion on the matter, shared out his comment widely to involve others. An ‘army’ of dissenters grew to shame him, label him, research him, and then copy/send his social media post to his current employer.
Voila – this executive was gone! A year later, he still remains unemployed.
The next time you come across online content that gets your emotions bubbling…consider these 5 TIPS. You can stay true to your feelings, but biting your ‘digital tongue’ may just save you from having future issues and fallout involving friends, co-workers, customers, and even your own career.
👨🏻🏫 My 5 POWERFUL TIPS:
#1 — Remember that social media is the LEAST effective medium for constructive communication, especially within differences of opinion. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube comments, or responses to online articles can be ‘career quicksand’ – so be very careful when and how you jump in.
#2 — You are highly UNLIKELY to change established biases and malicious intent surrounding content bait – even with clear facts and figures. Also, don’t fall into the trap of letting yourself feel as though if you DON’T comment, you are somehow giving up…or letting others win.
#3 — Toxic tribalism plays on our emotions and feelings of having or losing control. Don’t get sucked into shaming, blaming, or name-calling others – no matter how much you disagree or feel frustrated.
#4 — BEFORE JUMPING IN…step away from your mobile phone or computer for several hours. Reacting with logic vs. emotion saves jobs, reputation, and frustration.
#5 — If you find you have social media connections who post, like, or share a lot of content with potential baiting or polarizing content, consider unfollowing their feeds – BUT still keeping them as a connection. It will help reduce temptation.
Let’s have our views and opinions…but be more judicious and strategic in how we engage with others – both digitally and face-to-face during heated moments. This is one of many lessons within our WALKING THE RIDGE remote solution – for companies, organizations, and even higher education.