REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS and SOCIAL MEDIA (DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE)
11 points. This is something new and/or rare on this site – an essay. This is based on over 6 years of observation, with a friends list on Facebook that spans 6 cities, 3 nations, and 2 languages, and good dose of humor. The topic is in the title – Realistic Expectations, Don’t Believe the Hype. I do have a rather flip style, but I hope people can find some useful tips for surviving social media without too many headaches. All the examples are pulled from real life. If people think, “well, that’s just you,” then they are exactly what I am describing. In all things, please judge for yourself. Comments are fine, but LIKES are better. I like to keep this space for browsing, not for back and forth arguments.
WARNING – If you buy into the orthodoxy and hype on social media, or fancy yourself a Social Media Superstar, reading this could cause hissy fits and stomach upset. You have been warned..
1) WHY DO PERFECT STRANGERS DISAGREE WITH ME?
If you feel like you are being buffeted by the views of strangers that disagree with you, then you need to look at your Friend’s List. These people did not appear from nowhere. They requested to be friends, and you APPROVED it. If you want a homogenous group of people that always agree with you, then you need to actively filter people to achieve that. Lazy users of Social Media seem to think they can just take it for granted. LOL. Of course you can’t. How long have you been using Social Media?
When deleting people, I always start with people I do not know at all, or people i have not met face to face in the real world. Complete anonymity leads to conflict that would not happen in the real world. People get more extreme without real world consequences. However, expecting 500-1000 strangers to always act like your own personal cheerleader is just plain unreasonable. If you want only affirmations and kisses, then you need to post that. “I need you to pander to my ego.” Post it, delete the heretics, and you should be good with a nice quiet page. You get what you want and you’ve deleted anyone that might think you are shallow. Maybe. See: Lurkers below.
I find it helps to have your own basic, personal code. For example, If I do not share an opinion, I do not delete. But if someone expects me to be their obedient audience without controlling their own behavior, SAYONARA. People who delete comments without having the balls to reply are SAYONARA. My core rule is – if you can’t get with equality of all, then SAYONARA. If you are the Subject and I am your Object SAYONARA. I am not here to be someone’s unpaid chorus. You have to pay union rates for that. Facebook and Twitter are shared platforms. If you want a private party, you need to PAY FOR THE ROOM, stupid.
IMPORTANT POINT ABOUT PRIVATE CLUBS on FACEBOOK – I have encountered people on FB that say things like, “This is a private discussion for my private circle of friends, and you are unwelcome to say things we do not want to hear.” My reply – “Oh, did you buy Facebook and not tell me?” Surprise – you have to pay for the room to make it private. I am not on your feed, because YOU are on MINE. At best, Facebook and Twitter are SEMI-private platforms to share semi-public information. Lots of comments go public because the setting is “friends of friends” or “public/everybody,” set by the person who wonders how a stranger wandered in (see point 11, privacy settings). It’s fully private when you don’t post it, something professional writers understand very well. To Friend someone, then tell them they are excluded from your “private chat” is just the height of obnoxious, stupid, piggish behavior. If you want a more private conversation, the rest of us use email, asshole. ‘Get a room,” OK?
The more I think about this topic, the more I think people should post warning labels – “Please comment only if you agree.” I would love to see that happen, but people are afraid to post such a thing, for obvious reasons. It advertises you as a douchebag when you do. Endlessly confused people like that are the first people I like to delete, because unlike what they say, they get embroiled in conflict constantly, like a stumbling child. It is Social Media, and corporate advertising dictates we must have our cake and eat it too, riiiiiiiiight? No. Time to grow up.
2) COMMON SHARED RULES vs. LAW OF THE JUNGLE.
There are no common rules of etiquette on social media. That implies that everyone is acting according to the same standards, which is obviously untrue. English and Japanese manners are built on context, whereas Social Media is built on lack of context. Japanese and British are polite, Americans do OK, and Twitter is on fire again, off topic and out of context.
Some of my friends love political discussion, others hate it. The degree of disagreement that various people can tolerate is extremely different. I constantly see people claiming this or that is standard behavior, while 80% of everyone else is doing something completely different. “I decided this way is standard, so all you strangers have to follow it.” That is social media pathology in its purest form, like the king everyone forgot to crown, angry he has no power. KEYWORDS – Realistic Expectations will Set You Free.
Until you can point to one book that all people on social media accept as THE ONE RULE BOOK, then there is no system of etiquette on social media. People think they can accomplish that by posting one article on Facebook, which is a good example of Social Media Pathology – If Twitter and Facebook sold you an idea, then it must be true. I have seen PC folks post the most obtuse rules and convoluted PC jargon “everyone must use,” then get FURIOUS it does not catch on. Well, who are you? Standards come when everyone agrees on the same TEXT of rules. One obscure, faceless person posting an article on FB won’t bridge the gap.
Social Media is about Hype and Group Think with no real substance or consistency. People say “this will result in” and it results in nothing. Everyone agrees on a standard of behavior (pulled from a pandering self help book) that nobody follows. The lack of a commonly accepted Rulebook indicates social media is not interested in such a thing at all. The only discussion sites I have seen work well are always actively moderated by a fair referee. Everything else is law of the jungle and inevitable clashes. Expecting people to magically act a certain way without clear rules, a fair referee, or a common code is not a reasonable expectation.
3) REGIONAL DIFFERENCES, POLITICAL DIVIDES (THIS IS A BIG ONE)
Regional Differences in the real world are Real, and people act like it. The friends on my FB reflect where I have lived: Santa Cruz, SF, Tokyo, Incheon and Suwon in Korea, Sacramento, and now Portland, Oregon. I had to cut (almost) an entire region, older gay men in SF, because their local culture means acting like a snob and demonizing people from other places. On FB, they were basking in affirmation from fellow locals, but on my page, surrounded by the other regions, they came off as horribly obnoxious and pretentious, like mentally crippled Gay Archie Bunkers. So I deleted them and my page is now quite nice, for the most part. Straights from Sacramento are underrated, IMHO, but that’s another story.
Many people do not want to explore outside their home region. They do not want to deal with outsiders, whether gay, black, southern, older, younger, or suburban. By deleting 40 acquaintances from one region, I achieved quiet, by segregating myself from them. In my case, I had many happy replacements, so it was easy to drop the problem children. But expecting everyone to agree in the age of righteous anger, income inequality, Partisan knife fights, Bernie Sanders and Trump is just ridiculous Social Media pathology. People only agree as one UniMind when the sample is completely segregated, which is popular these days, to only hear what you want to hear. Even then you get stray cats.
Regionalism is stronger than ever. Partisan politics goes right with that. Our society is a lot more polarized than normal on all fronts – political, cultural, racial, gender, regional, and international, with Social Media standing right in the center of it all. Internet campaigns crumble if there is no footwork in the real world. Culture Wars went from being Spy vs. Spy to Asymmetric Chaos and Partisan BloodFeud. MoveOn.Org does two campaigns a day but don’t ask about their actual progress in the real world. Then I notice someone being hyper partisan in a political post, and they are shocked someone disagrees- “I thought my bubble was sealed.” Only the president of the USA is allowed a perfectly sealed bubble. There are many fine studies showing that segregation is on the rise, and it’s having a harmful impact. Growing segregation tracks with rising number of gun crimes and police brutality, among other things.
Some regions are more liberal and/or conservative than other places. Something shocking in North Carolina is mundane is another location. Maybe you think your region is the best. That does not mean that other regions think the same, or want to tolerate excess snobbery. Again if you want a homogenous group of people that always agree with you, then you need to survey and delete people to achieve that (i.e. enforced segregation). I have observed that effective segregation takes a lot of work, but on social media people want to take it for granted and get angry when things don’t happen magically. Then when they segregate, they get mad when people say, “hey, you have segregated yourself.” That is what drives ME crazy on Social Media the most. Neurotics on a Snobbery Trip are too high maintenance.
Despite Social Media Orthodoxy, Context controls us, because we are so eager to deny it on Social Media. The revolution of Social Media is stripping location and context from the language for the first time ever. If you think that experiment is going well, go have fun on Twitter Flame Wars. There are no rules, making it the Wild West. People think large, complex systems “fix” themselves magically if they are Anarchists, Libertarians, or users of Social Media, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
4) TROLLS ALWAYS GET IN FIGHTS WITH ME. WHY?
Troll- this word does not mean “Person who is wrong” or “person I diagree with.” It means someone seeking to stir up negative drama (fight not discuss), overstaying their welcome and basically attempting to establish themselves as the center of attention in your thread under your post (aka hijacking threads). That person was approved by you. If you approved a difficult stranger without looking at their Feed, then yeah – this one is on you. I check feeds before I approve a new friend all the time, but I also read other comments, unlike most people. If you do not like what you read, delete and you’re done. However, if you are deleting people because their opinion is not obedient to yours, then maybe you need to spend some time thinking about that. What are you telling yourself? Also, see the point below about Lurkers, “Your Friends are Watching You.” Why do you need the world singing a song in tune with only YOU? Think about it.
Odds are we are so diverse someone will disagree, especially when so much Social Media interaction is anonymous and without consequences. That’s actually a formula for Thread War, not mass agreement (hype). If you are hypersensitive about people disagreeing with you, then chances are you will view friendly, polite disagreement as TROLLISH behavior. To be honest, there is a chance other people reading the thread will then see you as the douche, not the other guy. If you don’t want discussion of political issues that includes some disagreement with you, then DO NOT POST ON POLITICS, and the problem is solved. There are many that use this solution, and they are very happy. As a political science major, I find the people who get the most bent out of shape over differing views are amateurs on the subject. Social Media excels at making everyone think they are experts (not).
6) BORED on SOCIAL MEDIA
Honest talk – people are not on Social Media to change the world, learn something new, get to know other people, or find out about your latest product or event. They are there to KILL TIME. I do it, you do it, everyone does it, and everyone claims they don’t. If you want to believe something else, go for it. But it is unfair to expect more than what people are looking for – to kill time and relieve a little boredom. I have found through studying stats on my website that people from Social Media don’t show up. Less than 3% of my Website traffic comes from Social Media, which is ridiculous in marketing terms. We have been sold a bill of goods on the “social media revolution.” Key word – Reasonable Expectations vs. Social Media Hype.
7) MARKETING ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
People approve 1000-2000 strangers as friends because they think those people are good marketing targets for whatever it is they have to sell. Then they get surprised when one of those 2000 strangers suddenly pops up with an opinion that is “unorthodox.”. To expect those people to be marketing targets on social media with no voice is unreasonable. Resolve it simply – Social Media is actually a black hole of people that do not show up in the real world. Therefore, there is no marketing value*. So, deleting all the strangers is probably a good idea for your own peace of mind. Many people maintain Social Media just to share personal and family stuff. It retrospect, this seems like the best choice. Otherwise, approve the 1000 and get mellow about what havoc they cause. I know people with 2000 friends who use it for marketing and nothing else, which is maybe a good strategy. I know several performers that have two Facebook accounts – one for professional purposes, and one for sharing information with a select group of friends they actually know in real life. That can be a good solution.
*Please see my last post (2015 Year End Report) for actual numbers.
8) HOW ABOUT THIS – CHILL OUT ON DISAGREEMENT.
If someone is hijacking a thread or making a negative spectacle, then take action (delete, block, report). But if its just one or two comments on your thread, why are you so touchy? Maybe you should talk to someone? Oh. Everyone on Social Media has the same opinion. Everyone has to agree with Everyone all the time and if you do not, “TROLL!!” I have actually forged some friendly relations with people on Social Media and disagree with them from time to time, just as we do in the Real World. It’s not such a bad thing. Also, if someone posts a comment you don’t like, and nobody replies to their comment, then leave it alone. People with fragile egos who require people to kiss up, are probably suffering some self esteem issues. Leave the post alone and work on yourself – “Why am I unable to just leave it alone? Why do I need the affirmation of strangers I have never met?” I still encounter people who read that last sentence, and have a MAJOR HISSY FIT. Why do you think that is? People don’t realize how much you can read from comments, and how much their own ego looks like a field of open sores.
9) YOUR FRIEND’S ARE WATCHING (LURKERS)
Remember – You and the person with the opinion you do not like are not the only people reading the thread. Lurking is what most people do. They read discussions to kill time, but do not always add their own opinion. If you seek to deal with a Troll by being a Jerk, everyone will read that. If there are 20 likes but only 3 comments, than 10-15 may be lurking. Think about it and act accordingly, however you want. People are watching. And if its the same Ego Tyrant Drama all the time, they are gone. I have seen people drop from 30 to 3 likes, from 30 comments to zero. It happens, so watch yourself.
Every time I add an opinion that may be somewhat challenging, I think of those invisible readers. If I an reasonable and someone calls me a troll, then I know I win – because of all the other people reading the thread. Worst case for them, someone (LIKES) my comment, now what? That has held true again and again. Over 6-7 years, I have seen the posts of oversensitive people drop and drop and drop in Likes and Comments. Everyone says to the original post, “Oh you are so right” then they fade away over time, not interested in being your constant cheerleader. I have noticed this trend recently A LOT as people use Facebook less and less.
You can be lightweight and shallow but people get bored. Remember – realistic expectations will set you free.
10) HEAL BY WALKING AROUND THE REAL WORLD –
Walk around outside. Meet new people, face to face. If you are married and have a tough job, then spend more time with family and coworkers, in the real world. The reasons for extreme behavior can be someone who never gets out, anonymous without consequences, or someone who opened Facebook with a preexisting temper tantrum caused by work or home (kick the dog syndrome). More time OFF social media is a way for you to work on those face to face relationships. I do Facebook now about once per week at best. I also have my dog and my work. I pick dog and work. I see most of my friends on FB are doing the same. And yet after deleting so many super sized egos, I still can’t make my friend’s list shrink. Pretty nutty bunch, actually, but I like what they post.
11) PRIVACY and INFORMATION SECURITY –
Public information about you on social media was put there by you. Do you know why a complete stranger has your phone number, email, and personal information? Because YOU put it in your public profile, dummy. Most people have no idea what’s on their own page, then fall into a rage when they are “hacked.” In the young vernacular, “hacked” seems to mean a stranger accessed information you put on your public profile, probably in less than two minutes, without the fancy software used on TV. Also keep in mind that I can access all the info on most people’s friend’s lists, incl. people that are not friends with me. Have a look at your list and settings and think about upgrading the security.
I found a way to contact someone’s father, and they were blown away by that. I simply pointed out – the information was clearly posted on his PUBLIC profile, by HIM, so why is he so freaked out? Several times I shut down white strangers trying to preach to other white strangers on the race issue by posting their friends list. “If you are against racism, why do you have over 300 friends, ALL WHITE?” Boy, that was embarrassing.
Take ownership of your own information and page. Keep it simple. If people want your telephone number, they can ask. If you are not sure what to include, just post the very minimum, and add to it later. I list High School Name, some Work info, because nobody can use that in advertising. Advertisers want my contact info – address, email, phone – so you do NOT want that on your FB page.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY is a major theme in all 11 points. I’m afraid I’m not too down with the Twitter Orthodoxy of Screaming Trivial Victims. They hate it when I use the word shallow. They want me to act in a way without a written script that nobody voted on. I think nothing would benefit the users of social media more than taking personal responsibility to grow, rather than throwing a hissy fit because a complete stranger walked through the door they opened. That and getting out of the house more often. The ugliest thing I have ever seen in a gay bar is a lonely young man attached to his phone, totally shutting out everyone around him. They attempt to connect with people who are not there, and shut out the people who are – true pathology. I guess some guys have trouble with real world communication and real world connections. Too much time on Twitter?
SOCIAL MEDIA REVOLUTION
2011 Occupy Begins, gets approval rating higher than Obama, then fizzles out within 4 months. Social Media Trends have a short life.
Protestors force Mubarak out of power in Egypt.
Election results in Religious extremists taking power
Religious extremists replaced by new dictator and military rule.
Social Media Hailed as being a way to Change Society.
I roll my eyes.
TRUMP is a social media creature. He knows Twitter better than most men know their wives. He uses it very effectively, yet he is an extreme Troll of Trolls. Like any tool, social media can be used for Good or Evil, and if you think there are rules in the Jungle, Trump just blew them up. Is that a good thing? Think about it.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
My observation is that they are adept at adapting the tactics and strategy of ACT-UP and other groups from the real world. They share info on Twitter, but the heart and engine of the movement is meeting in the real world to pressure for change on real streets. They have had some success, including some of the first prosecutions of cops for killing citizens. This to me is the ideal use of social media -a convenient tool, combined with old fashioned, real world action.
Having realistic expectations of Social Media is essential, but also rather rare. Yiou can’t make Social Media be something it is not – you are only causing yourself frustration. Do what a Martial Arts Monk would do in Japan or China – Understand the reality of your surroundings, harmonize with it, then seek ways to get what you want within that framework of Realistic Expectation by adapting the good stuff to things in the real world that actually work. And don’t believe the hype.