Happy Wednesday, everyone! Social media is becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives, and this means that we are coming into contact with more people than ever before. We do more socializing on Facebook than we do in person, but the impersonal nature of technology can get us into trouble if we aren’t careful.
The “impersonal” nature of Facebook is deceptive. Yes, we sit behind a screen and know people by monikers and avatars, but there are real people on the other side, so we need to take extra care to remember that.
We “Know” Others, but We Don’t KNOW Them
I go out of my way to always be positive on Facebook. Granted, I try and make sure I am “real.” I am not all fake buckets of sunshine, but I do respect the fact that we all struggle and most of us live in a perpetual state of being stressed out. Social media offers only a limited glimpse of who I am and what is going on behind closed doors.
If I shared every trial, challenge and illness, pretty soon, you guys would need a drink. You have your own troubles and don’t need me being a Debbie Downer.
Ah, but just because someone isn’t talking about their trial, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any.
I once made a real OOPS on a blog post about the dangers of premature editing. In fact, I made more than one OOPS, I made THREE. I had THREE major typos. I had a guy leave the nastiest comment that challenged my right to even breathe air after my faux pas. What this person didn’t know was that I made the errors because I was up all night with my aunt who was dying and who finally passed away at 2 a.m. after we’d been caring for her for months and months of illness. I erred because I was exhausted and grieving.
Give the Benefit of the Doubt
When it comes to others on social media (and in life) try to make it a habit to believe the best. If someone gets out of line, we can take it personal OR we can stop and remember times we showed our @$$es and offer grace. We don’t know if this person just lost a job, experienced a death or is worn out from caring for an aging parent or a sick child. Sure, this person might just be a jerk, BUT maybe they are having a rough time. Compassion is always the best choice in my book.
Resist the Urge to Publicly Lecture
We will never fully agree with everyone. In fact, if we want to live a conflict-free life, then we need to just move to a deserted island. People hurt, they experience loss. They get in over their heads. Sometimes they believe differently than we do or support another political agenda. We won’t laugh at every joke and we won’t agree with every quote. That’s just reality.
This said, if something REALLY bothers us, we can confront, but we should do so in love and privately.
When I was in college, I was on a full Air Force scholarship to become a doctor. This meant that I was in A.F.R.O.T.C. There was an upperclassman who LOVED to berate people publicly. He would LOOK for an infraction and then take great joy in shaming us in public. Trust me, we ALL hated him.
We should avoid lecturing others if possible. Most people will just get ticked. Granted, there is a way to confront, but please do so in PRIVATE. Posting a lecture on someone’s wall is just going to put them on the defensive and it’s a good way of starting a public Facebook brawl.
If we are on social media any length of time, all of us are going to post something that unwittingly offends someone else. Often this is because others, due to their limited knowledge of us, may not understand or may misinterpret the intent.
For instance, I recently posted a gingerbread house that was made to look like a trailer…because it looked EXACTLY like where I used to live even down to the white car on blocks. The owner of the property was a hoarder, and every time he found spare tires, appliances, wood, scrap metal, he put it in the back yard in one big pile. He would also buy car bodies he was going to restore, but he never did and they just sat outside and rusted away.
I used to have a refrigerator on my back porch. NOT…KIDDING.
So my landlord was a hoarder and my neighbor was an animal hoarder who “owned” at least 75 feral cats. I didn’t sleep for months, because the cats used to keep me awake all night fighting/mating outside my window. Oh, and they ALL used my gravel drive as one giant litter box.
But, you know what? I MISS that place. It taught me to be so grateful for everything I have. I didn’t have any money, but I had good friends and a lot of love. And what seemed like hell back then are now some of my most cherished memories.
Careful When Confronting
Anyway, I posted the image of the gingerbread trailer home because it made me smile and reminded me of hard times, but some of the BEST times. I wasn’t making fun of people from the trailer park. I was remembering a time that was very happy for me. Yet, a couple of people felt that was I was being an elitist mocking those less fortunate and that posting the image was un-PC of me.
I would have been open to correction. I mean, I would NEVER want to hurt others. And maybe I didn’t think it through before I posted. BUT, I resented that I was being lectured over my own wall.
The offended parties could have messaged me privately and explained their side and I could have explained mine. Then I would either have the option of leaving it or quietly taking the image down because I didn’t realize it might be hurtful to others. But, since the confrontation was public, I feel it placed me in the spot of having to defend.
None of us like being treated like we are three. If someone is posting stuff on your wall, that’s a little different. They are not respecting YOUR space. But, when the “offending” material is on their own wall? We aren’t the manners police. We can either send a polite private message, hide the person’s feed, or unfriend because we aren’t a good fit.
All of us run across content that makes our hackles go up, but we need to just let it go. It’s unrealistic of us to expect to “like” everything posted. Just move on. If it really is bothersome, send a private message. Remember all of us have different backgrounds and experiences. What is fun and innocent to one person can be a capital offense to another. Just please bear in mind that most people don’t go out of their way to be deliberately mean.
As I mentioned earlier, it is best to assume the best and give others the benefit of the doubt. Just because someone posts something funny about a trailer park, doesn’t meant that they aren’t living in one. Trust me, you live somewhere bad enough and humor is all you have to get you through.
It is impossible to post content that EVERYONE loves. Some people love cats, others hate them. Some people love guns. Others think we shouldn’t be armed with anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Some people love inspirational quotes. Other people think they are sugary crap drivel. Some people have no problem with excessive profanity or vulgar jokes, while others keep everything G-rated.
The only way we can hope to get along is to just learn to pay attention to what speaks to us and ignore the rest. If it really is an issue, just message the person privately. They might actually agree and change or take down the post. They will at least be grateful that we acted discreetly to get the matter resolved.
Anyway, what are your thoughts? Have you had someone publicly shame you on social media? How did you take it? Do you have some advice? Other tips on how to lovingly confront? Have you lived in a trailer park? Do you still live in a trailer park? Share your stories! I think trailer parks are one of the most interesting places to live :D.
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of December I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.