When Social Media Goes Anti-Social

I came to social media land kicking and fighting, but thanks to great coaching from my colleagues Barbara, Marta and Julie, I am getting much more comfortable with blogging and Tweeting. I might have to change my Twitter profile soon from “reluctant blogger” to “blogger” – baby steps, right?

I embrace blogging, Twitter and Facebook now because I get some great ideas and feedback from the blogs and people I follow and read regularly. But there is a dark side to social media that I find a huge turn off. I am talking about the rude, offensive and divisive comments people make on blogs and articles. (I am not even going to touch some of the Facebook postings I have seen recently, because those people are supposed to be my friends…)

The final straw for me came when I read an HBR blog on grammar, or more accurately when I read the COMMENTS to the blog. Very quickly they turned to insults of the author and his opinion about the importance of using good grammar in his business, and even insults directed to the other commenters. One guy even dropped the F-bomb in his comment!! (Recommendation: Save the F-bombs for blogs on politics blood sports; they are lost on blogs about grammar).

What has happened to civil discourse and the ability to discuss a topic without resorting to insults and F-bombs? I used to work for a company who had Respect for the Individual as one of its core values. This was my favorite core value because it extended to include respect for the values and opinions of one’s colleagues. After all, if I wanted my co-workers to respect me and my opinions, I needed to show the same to them.

I have decided I need to be more selective about my social media choices, and particularly about who I hang out with in social media land. You see, I like to be around people who are positive and upbeat, who have a passion and excitement that is contagious, and who demonstrate respect for others. I come away from being with people like this feeling good about myself and energized to tackle work and life head on. I feel the exact opposite after reading blistering blog comments, like I have had the life and breath sucked from me. And, personally, I am afraid to call people out online for rude behavior because I am afraid they are going to turn on me next! I ain’t got time for that!

So I will continue to blog and Tweet (and promise to dabble in the other social tools as well), but plan to stay far away from the anti-social side of social media for a good long while. Thankfully, the readers of Current are very positive and respectful in their comments – keep them coming, please!!

Heather Nelson is a partner with PeopleResults. You can reach her at hnelson@www.people-results.com or on Twitter at @HeatherGNelson1. Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.