As a “wellpreneur” who works with clients online and by phone/Skype as well as in person, I spend a fair amount of time marketing my services online, mostly through my own website and on social media platforms.
I’m not an early adopter of social media, and Snapchat—which I have because my kids like to use it—still confuses the heck out of me. But I check in regularly on Facebook (which, I was dismayed to learn from my daughter when she turned 13, “is for old people”), more recently on LinkedIn, and occasionally on Instagram.
There’s also the Nextdoor app, which purportedly provides a space for people to share hyper-local community news updates and solicit local recommendations/references for anything from restaurants to service providers. On occasion it also provides a giggle—”Found chicken” reads one subject line from last week.
I love that social media brings me into contact with people near and far—to be fair, my daughter’s observation was that for people my age who have lived as many places as I have in 50 years, the world of what one friend has dubbed Facebookistan makes it easier to keep in touch with people in various places. And as an entrepreneur, social media can extend my “reach” much further than traditional media AND for free.
But what I don’t like about it is that it’s easy for those in the virtual space to spend a lot more time broadcasting than actually engaging—not only in posts but in comments on other people’s posts. I often observe that it’s a place where people hammer away at their own agendas: there’s usually a lot more “me” than “we” and a lot more causing dissent than seeking solutions.
For example, one day last week, a neighbor posted on Nextdoor that her cat had been killed and wondered whether it might have been done by a coyote. In her message, she explicitly said (I’m paraphrasing), “I am not inviting a discussion about whether or not my cat should have been allowed outside: please don’t comment on that. I’m just curious what animal might have done it.”
Less than 24 hours after she posted this, another neighbor posted a lengthy (and I mean L-E-N-G-T-H-Y) diatribe about how no pet should ever be allowed outside unsupervised. Oh, and isn’t it marvelous how, now that predators have been reintroduced to our area, the rabbits and woodchucks have become less of a problem?
I was surprised yet again at how the man who replied had not only ignored the poster’s request but gone on (and on and on) about his own views. This was not a conversation, it was a dissertation, a harangue. If he didn’t finish reading the post before replying, it’s akin to interrupting her mid-conversation. If he read the whole thing and posted his reply anyway, it shows an extreme lack of concern and respect for his “conversation” partner and likely falls under the category of mansplaining.
This one conversation continues to blow up my email inbox with notifications, and while I learned that I could block this one thread, I’ve kept it open simply because I was so intrigued by the comments as a reflection of how we interact with each other on social media—and increasingly in real life.
As another example, a friend recently posted a diet-related question on Facebook and was immediately inundated by people offering their products and services, most of which were of the silver bullet variety: Use this supplement! Start this diet! Do this detox! Work out THIS way! (Oh, and pay me lots of money.) Not what she was looking for in terms of support….
Have you ever done this? Consider what your reaction was to the title of this post—did you read the whole thing before responding?
Have I ever done this? As someone with a service to sell, I’m quite certain (okay, I KNOW) that I’ve been guilty of this sort of bad behavior. But as a health coach, a lot of my job is listening and asking questions: my work is to help clients find their own answers by listening to their own inner wisdom, not dictating a one-size-fits-all, it-worked-for-me-so-you-should-do-it prescription.
Whether we’re talking face-to-face or “talking” on social media, we may want to remember the old saying that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason: to listen twice as much as we speak. And just as I try to promote what I love rather than denigrate what I dislike, I’ve added this concern to my list of criteria for posting/responding on social media.
And maybe it’s worth considering how we listen to our inner voice as well: when our bodies are trying to get our attention by suddenly throwing us a curve ball in the form of a new ache or pain or symptom, do we shut it down with a lot of “shoulds” that we absorbed from the outside world (I should work out more, I should not eat this, I should be eating vegan/Paleo/etc., I should drink green smoothies), or do we patiently listen to its complaints and find our own way to soothe it, a way that works for us?
The irony of this post doesn’t escape me: my blog is really a platform from which I can broadcast my own views—and I hope you get the sense that I really do welcome your comments.
I’d love to know, what are YOUR rules of engagement on social media? (If you send me condolences on the non-existent loss of my cat, well….)