Social Media—The Game Changer

I never tire of observing the polarity of social media engagement. If there’s anything I’ve learned about this fast evolving game, it’s that everyone plays by a set of different rules.

football-player-on-field
Social media is a lot like football.

Some take it very seriously. Some engage just for fun. Usage can lean toward the personal, the professional, or may fall somewhere in between. There may be witty statuses updated, pictures posted, articles shared, or game progressions revealed.

Some see it as an opportunity to interact with fellow adults via respectful discourse, genuinely asking for the answers to difficult questions and hoping for solutions to big issues. Others use it as a platform to broadcast their beliefs, often stating their opinions as fact and berating others with differing views.

I used to be afraid of trolls as a child. But they really are quite harmless (even if they do have bad hair).
I was afraid of trolls as a child. But they really are quite harmless (even if they do have bad hair).

And while social media has increased the speed at which we can receive information, it has also completely changed the way we share it.

Social has transformed the way we communicate.

It’s made us harder, more opinionated, and a little less forgiving. We engage in heated battles via Facebook, and talk to one another roughly via Twitter’s limited 140 characters.

On the flip side, how often do we treat our acquaintances with that same brusqueness when we see them in person? I don’t know about you, but if I could see the countenance of every person with whom I communicate online, I would likely be a little less vocal.

Because feelings get hurt easily, no matter how much of a troll a person may appear to be on the web.

Come to think of it, aren’t we all flawed human beings who make errors in judgment? Personally, I struggle to find the perfect balance—both in face-to-face communication and when online. What should I say? What shouldn’t I say? How much is too much? And how do I remedy a situation if I’ve crossed some invisible, digital line? I’ve certainly made my share of bad calls, throwing  inappropriate statements like yellow flags onto a field of aghast onlookers. And sometimes those calls must be retracted and apologies must be made.

But if something unkind is said in person, anyone with decency would promptly apologize. That’s not always the case on the worldwide web. In that climate, if you mistakenly tackle a teammate by saying something inappropriate, sometimes without knowing or intending to, you lose a friend. Sometimes permanently. But always with a crowd nearby to taunt or cheer both teams along.

football players on field
Social media—how do you play the game?

Due to my vocation, I spend most of the day logged into multiple social media platforms for both personal and professional use. I’m the frequent announcer of my own game, and my voice projects louder than the crowd noise (at least when it comes to my own Facebook wall).

That sense of hyper-engagement has sparked this post, as well as the following questions:

How do you prefer to engage online? Do you socialize casually or professionally? If you’ve ever found yourself sacked or outed when communicating via social media, how did you handle the situation?

Also, if you’re on Twitter, let’s play ball. I’ll try not to make too many bad passes.

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