Social media and those who play within the realm continue to believe that their world, while played out in public forums, remains private and exempt from the rules of society. The belief is simple, I’m a private person, my life is my life and outside comment or critique is unwarranted and unfair. This is never more true than when any event is offered suggestions on improvement, any talk reviewed, any tweet argued or any decision publicly condemned, however, for some reason social media continue to propagate a system where providing suggestions is wrong.
Let’s break it down though because we cannot all be so insane as to not recognize the world for how it is, can we?
When a movie comes out, a lot of work has been put into it (good job team!). Lights, sound, acting, directing, writing, are just some of the tasks (and people) who are behind the movie. If it’s not a particularly good movie, it’s necessary to let them know what was wrong – a reviewer steps up and provides his or her insight on why the movie was bad, or good, or both. It’s a job that was incredibly important to us before the internet because it let us know if a movie was worth seeing or not. However, this changed with the development of the internet and sites like IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, which allows everyone to review things – anonymously. Everyone could voice their opinion without fear of reprisal or counterattack.
Having gotten used to and coddled with the protection of anonymity, we were free to say anything we wanted to anyone without having to show our faces. This is where the problem begins.
Fast-forward to the last few years, where the development of social media has swept the world and marketing departments – where the ‘Social Media Influencer’ has become a staple in social media strategy. Social media changed the web to bring people back into the fold. No longer was “BobFromCanada” who we could interact with – now it was “Zach Bussey from Toronto, here’s his website, what he looks like, what he does, his employment history, his friends, his passions and how he takes his coffee.” All of a sudden, the anonymity we had been using for ten years was erased and now if you wanted to stay ahead of the curve (or use social media to your advantage), you had to be yourself. Social media brought light to darkness and those still hiding in the shadows rightly earned the name ‘Trolls’.
Here’s where the disconnect lies… while we have a new openness and ability to connect with real people, what we refuse to acknowledge is the place for (and necessity of) people who are willing to provide suggestions and ideas on improving. Living a public lifestyle where every shit we take, every place we eat, every thing we see or overhear and every event we plan is blasted out to everyone we know by face or screen name, doesn’t come without a response – and sometimes that response is going to be in the form of honest review. However, we don’t acknowledge the place for this, a place for someone to say: You can do better. You can be better. Here is how… The sentiment is “I deserve praise, that’s it. Any kind of public suggestion is unwarranted. Leave me to do what I do; it’s not your place to comment.” Every other thing in our lives (movies, celebrities, cars, restaurants), we accept the place for reviews and suggestions. When it’s about us though? No thanks!
We need to get it through our thick skulls that without people telling us how we can do better, we’re going to drown in a sea of mediocrity.
While the world outside of social media look for ways to improve, and knows how to take criticism, suggestion and ideas by using them to grow, improve and be better… social media people have decided that they aren’t part of the real world. In regards to a recent event that occurred, I asked people who attended what they thought of the event and under the condition of anonymity (there is that word again) they agreed to provide me with their overview – which was overall positive but offered suggestions of improving for next year. In a couple cases, they wanted to remain anonymous for fear of attack. They believed that if they voiced a concern or suggestion that they would be publicly vilified for their ideas. How sad is it that with all this access to people, ideas, and different thoughts, that the majority of us shut our mouths because we fear how the people, organizations or person might respond to our ideas? Sadder still, that there’s clear proof that those who might respond would confirm these fears.
This brings me back to the necessity of providing reviews which point out flaws and provide suggestions on how to fix them, and why we should be encouraging them to speak more. This role, or character trait is NOT an easy one. Constantly under the pressures of polarization – staunch supporters and opponents, there is no middle ground for anyone who wants to see something improve. Either what you say is going to be accepted or vilified. Even if the content of their review is balanced to provide positives and negatives along with ideas on improvement, the people who read will only read it in one way or the other.
Social media, especially, needs more people to stand up and say “Hey, this was a problem, and here’s an idea how to fix it“. With so many mediocre things being sold to businesses under the guise of “Social Media Strategy”, with so many social media events being mediocre, and with so many actions of social media people being mediocre (at best) the room for improvement is massive and should be in greater demand. Or we can just continue to keep our mouths shut and forever accept that we can only be mediocre.
Personally, I refuse to accept that. So please, rather than agreeing with this, give me some suggestions on how I can improve! We’ll both be better off for it.