Recently I was talking to a friend about how she uses social media. She admitted that she prefers to not engage or contribute in open and public forums with strangers preferring only to connect with people that she knows and even then, it’s only through direct and private messages. Although she regularly scans her social media feeds and gains value through her networks sharing information and resources that she has actively used in her work, she prefers not to contribute or participate in discussions publicly.
When I asked her why this is the case, she felt that she had no reason to share her ideas, opinions or reflections as she was quite happy with simply using what is openly shared by others. Also she felt that she really didn’t have anything to promote – she was not in business for herself, nor had she any products and services to sell and she wasn’t particularly interested in presenting her perspectives because she was happy with how what she was gaining from the internet and social media served her for now. She also felt that there was really no need to “show off”.
“In fact,” she admitted, “I’m really not interested that much in it as I have my own group of friends and networks who I can go to. Why do I have to connect with every Tom, Dick and Harry even if they’re the world leading experts in their field. I simply don’t care about this”.
It was an interesting perspective and it took me by surprise. It’s not the first time anyone has said this to me and whenever it is admitted to me, I must say that it doesn’t sit well with me because I take it as a personal affront that they’re accusing my overuse of the social networks to be frivolous and pointless. Of course, my experience is otherwise as my global connections have afforded me with all sorts of opportunities that have come my way.
She added, “and so what? You still struggled to find work and you’re always running around to find it. So what’s the whole point of being on social networks? If anything, it’s a lot of hard work for little reward.”
So that got me thinking about social media in general but not people like her. After all, there are many people who follow this thinking and who are generally adamant that social media, although they consume, peruse and scan through posts, will never engage and will never have any reason to because they’re not interested.
My mind got to thinking about the people who ARE on social media and then use slightly underhanded tactics and strategies to exclude and isolate others in their networks.
I have to put up my hand and admit that I’ve done one or two of these tactics and each time I do, I momentarily stop myself and think, “you know what you’re doing Helen” and then my finger scrolls past the post deciding not to like, reply or retweet something….deliberately.
Of course, it doesn’t always happen. There are times when we don’t have time to read everyone’s tweets and posts but I’m referring to the times when you do and then there’s this split-second moment in time where your brain kicks into gear and you make a conscious decision NOT to do something because of the PERCEPTION of what others may think of it on your timeline.
You know those moments I’m talking about..
Some Underhanded Social Tactics
I’ve listed some tactics according to my own assessment of what’s bad to worse. I believe the underlying behaviours here are the intent for exclusion and isolation.
To many like my friend above, these nuances will be lost on her, however, to those who have been participating and contributing in online social behaviours for some years, these tactics are so evident to others abut how you use social media and what your intentions are.
Here’s what I have:
- Muting someone (I don’t think this is particularly bad especially when you like what they share but they simply overshare. It means you can still refer to their work when you need to. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m muted by many because of this reason and I’m okay with this)
- Sharing only work-related articles in your field because you prefer your stream to be HIGHLY curated so that you present one version of yourself – the professional self (once again, not necessarily bad but when it’s curated to the point of your own personality or interests coming out, I start to believe that you have a Tweet bot sharing your content, or that YOU’RE a robot, just saying).
- Not retweeting or sharing posts, tweets or articles from your network that are about their ‘non-work’ interests or passion projects because you don’t really care much about their interests or hobbies or worse, you don’t want others to believe that you agree or like their projects
- Reading a post or article you find useful, relevant and applicable to your work but because it’s been shared by a particular person deciding not to comment or retweet it because you don’t want their tweets on your timeline (“preferential treatment”)
- When you have been @mentioned in a post, article or tweet, (which means you get a personal notification) you have read it but deliberately decide not to engage with it either thanking them, liking it, or presenting your view on the conversation (“radio silence”)
- When you deliberately NOT @mention someone’s name because you don’t want them to contribute or participate in the conversation (“exclusion”)
- When someone seeks out your help such as sharing a blog post of theirs, finding work, or connecting them to leads in one of your network that you deliberately delay this until a long period of time has passed that it’s forgotten or you say you will but have no inclination to do this (“non-urgency” and “broken promises”)
- Responding to people who you don’t agree with vague negative statements about their work and networks and not providing actual evidence as to why to seek clarification, explanation or even a resolution
- When you make vague and over generalised statements about someone in your network, leaving others to second guess as to whom they could mean
- Deliberately waiting for someone who you prefer or like in your network to share a post, article or tweet that you liked because you’d much prefer to retweet their stuff than from people you don’t like
- Personal and scathing attacks openly
- Blocking people in your network just because you don’t agree with them or share similar thinking or experiences
- Sharing your posts or articles without any attributions – direct copying
- Copying and pasting the work/articles/posts of people into another closed community or network so that they are deliberately excluded from interacting and from where you can freely comment on their work
- If you have a closed community and you deliberately block someone you don’t like or who was a member, then change their membership status without reason simply because you don’t agree with them, or you’re jealous of their network.
- And the worst tactic of all in my books?
Sharing ONLY your posts, your work, your articles and responding, retweeting and sharing from ONLY to people who follow your work or who love what you do thus creating a self-congratulatory bubble that only presents your version of the truth.
So what do you think? Do you have any more?
Before you start thinking, “I wonder who she’s talking about?” Well, I’m not talking about anyone in particular. It’s been my observations of social netiquette after many years of being in the networks and actively contributing and participating in them. I’m a big believer that these social networks were meant to build channels of conversation and allow for mutual understanding and respect for differences but at times, they’ve become downright nasty and isolationist which doesn’t help us at all in learning from others and in so doing, reflect on our own behaviours.
This blog post by Helen Blunden was written in Melbourne, Australia and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.