When I finally got off my butt and went for a walk on my prep for me weight loss challenge, I decided to listen to a podcast to make the walk more interesting. I stumbled across a recording on TED Talks which sparked my curiosity - "Let's design social media that drives real change" by Wael Ghonim.
Now Wael's talk was about his activism in and how he took to social media to invigorate a huge change in the government of Egypt. I hope you will watch the show I have embedded here, or listen to it on the podcast, and pay special attention to the last portion of Wael's talk.
Shaping Behavior and Magnifying Impact
Wael explains that social media facilitated the spread of misinformation, rumors, and hate speech. It shaped behavior and magnified its impact. This is so true when we look at social media and how we use it for both the good and the bad life has to offer.
A Natural Impulse
With today's technology, social media allows people's evil side or negative side to quickly appear. From making rude or curt comments on a post by another person, to offering an opinion based solely on their personal experience, hatred or feeling, as opposed to fact.
I've often joked that it is very easy for someone to become a "keyboard commando" because without face-to-face interaction, we quickly forget the person we are exchanging words with is an actual person, and not just a picture on the screen.
Because we tend to communicate only with those with whom we agree, or they agree with us, we have created our own echo chambers. Because of this, we can distance ourselves from other people's opinions and feelings, and healthy conversation and exchange of ideas, by simply un-following, un-friending and muting people.
We've been saying this for years, but it's been for people to slow down when operating a motor vehicle.
However, when we think about the speed of social media, and how we must respond quickly to either have our voices heard, or in the manner of a law enforcement organization, control a situation or disseminate information, speed is necessary.
Wael explains that it's very hard to change people's opinions, because of the speed of social media. People are so quick to offer their conclusions or opinions in 140 characters, when it's about complex world affairs. Although there may be more to the story or the short opinion, social media allows those bursts to live on forever.
Is It Social or Is It Broadcasting
Think of how we post, as it relates to all forms of social media. Whether we're talking about official law enforcement Facebook pages, your own personal Twitter account or your PIO Instagram account, are we broadcasting information or are we engaging our communities? Are our posts just a "post," or are they discussions?
Do we offer shallow comments as opposed to opening up for great conversations? Are we on social media to talk with our communities, family members or friends, or talk at them?
When I thought about these things, a bunch of thoughts ran through my mind. Do I reduce the amount of posts or comments I make as I know I won't have the amount of time to reply to each comment with a meaningful response? Do I continue on with posting for both my agency and this group, to continually push out information I feel someone, somewhere, at some time, will find useful?
There are more questions which have me thinking about this thing we call social media, and where we're going with it. I just got to sift through the mess in my head...