When describing social media platforms, the word Megaphone has become synonymous. I bet if some of us were asked what our Megaphone was, we’d know the person was asking us if we prefer Twitter, Facebook, etc. as the medium to blast whatever.
These platforms were intended to be social tools. Connect, gather, decimate thoughts. Community at some level. At least that’s been the marketing pitch.
A challenge for us as real people is that they’ve not necessarily been used as a way to actually connect. In many cases they’ve been used as a way to commit a drive by. And in many ways fit the observations of Tools 2006 Vicarious- https://youtu.be/h_TUP2vuaDs — which at the time was about watching the news (Facebook and Twitter barely existed).
We all know the deal. Someone posts. Someone else (faceless, although identified at times by a real picture and name with a real channel to contact them through) swoops in to post a comment, or commentary (not always related), or even spewing vitriol (not always the reaction wanted and typically not asked for by the author) without offering a real, well structured, and useful response. They give no real, new information or work to persuade.
Respondent posts are not always negative. They can be encouraging, uplifting, congratulatory, helpful, supportive, and so on.
Either way. We get some dopamine from the recognition or the rush of the back and fourth. So maybe we’ve received what we wanted.
What we typically don’t get is the post being an initiator of actual connection. A conversation off the platform, in person, or by phone. Even an email exchange. Means that elevate an idea or a discussion. Even when we disagree, an actual exchange, elevates us to a more positive space; it leaves us with something we can learn from and use. Of course maybe I’m being naive there, because I know it’s as easy to chastise or praise someone in person, but that takes nerve and fortitude depending on the dynamics between the parties.
Even in a professional realm on LinkedIn, we can experience these drive-bys; someone we don’t know (even though they may be in our network) swooping in to comment and add something that does not lead to an actual connecting event. Which is even more curious as, at least on my page, all my contact is exposed and available for use by anyone — I’m not hard to reach. Very easy to take the next step and directly engage someone off platform.
Personally, I’ve not had anyone post or make negative comment on LinkedIn. Even when posting things I write on Medium. I’ve been writing on Medium now for almost a year and have not gotten comments or had people calling me a hack or a dumb ass; maybe I’m doing it wrong or my work sucks so bad I don’t even get recognized.
I’m not on the other platforms enough to stir anything up, and I don’t use them as a Megaphone to state anything that others can really attack. I’m pretty boring posting pics of sunrises, my sons plays and basketball games so his grandma in South Carolina can see, or pictures from a show I manage to get to see — I probably should use Insta more, given I communicate more in image than words. I don’t get into chat groups; except may post a comment on a fan page for a band I like. And I’ve really avoided politics like the plague (nothing to gain by sharing my thoughts).
But I see it. I see it on the posts of others. Someone taking a jab or making a political comment when the post may not even be at all related to what the comments relate to. It just simply triggered someone in the moment, or it’s their jam to troll around looking for posts to commit a drive by. Of course there are rumors of bot farms and intelligence programs designed to use these Megaphones against us; this I believe, it’s PsyOps/Psychological Warfare, which has been around for a long time and come in many forms.
This writing is not meant as commentary on how bad social media is. It’s mis-use. It’s degradation of society. It’s not about how the Russians are using Facebook to take down America (that’s a real narrative out there being cashed in on, not my own theory).
Actually this writing was sparked by a few observations. And a very positive recent experience; a connection responding to me telling me they follow me and want to engage by phone and learn how we can collaborate; that’s why I do actually spend a fair amount of time in LinkedIn.
By and large my use of Social Media has delivered good results and is a tool to promote my business, and operate it. And helps my mom see what her grandson is up to.
But there’s so much missed opportunities. So many opportunities not capitalized on. So many missed business leads. And a lot of mis-use. On social media we do find so much of the woke attacking the sleep; the woke attacking each other for not being alert enough; the sleep attacking each other for not being true to a cause anymore; and everyone hating on all forms of media (corporate and alternative).
We’re all still learning how to use these tools. Megaphones are very easy to shout through. Nearly impossible to have an appropriate volume conversation through. Megaphones can become, and I think are used as weapons. Not a great way to get a point across — unless some form of intimidation is the desired outcome.
I have hope though.
Hope that when something is stuck in our craw, we don’t go on the offensive, or just offend. Hope we don’t take a defensive stance always and just hit the like button out of fear to stir any less than positive response. Hope we go deeper and to a more enlightened place. And hope we control ourselves better on them.
Hope that we use them, when the chance is there, to step out of the virtual world, into the real and connect. Find the persons phone or email contact and use it to get to know them.
Here’s a few goals that you can even set. These are a gift from me to you.
- On LinkedIn, if you find someone interesting. Send them an email and invite them to a virtual coffee. If you’re in the same area, a real one. Don’t do a sales pitch to them in disguise either. If your just selling, tell them you are only making contact for a transactional purpose. Message them if their email is not available for the same purpose — connect not transact.
- Other platforms. DM someone versus just going insane and posting crazy diatribes or snarky comments. If they piss you off so much to blast them in public, take a more thought provoking approach and strike up a conversation with them directly. Maybe you become friendly adversaries in thought and then just pals; hell James Carville and Mary Matalin started a family, I bet we can find a real, actual beer buddy. After all if you strongly disagree with someone, you probably have more in common than you’d imagine. Common ground in passions more than specific ideas often.
- If you have so much to say in posts. Pull back for a minute and try writing a long form piece or recording your hinged and lucent thoughts in a video on YouTube. Get in the game baby. Maybe you have something deeper and more interesting to offer than just a drive by. I believe in you. Take your mind for a walk or s trip but letting it unleash a thought for longer than a 10 second burst.
If you’re not even open to these ideas. Maybe it’s time to think about putting the Megaphone down. Hard to say there’s not enough thought out there with over a million podcasts, and millions on Medium, Substack etc. But at least there’s effort in these pursuits. Contribution at some level. Not perfect, but these works take work. They stretch the mind.
In my opinion nothing wrong with friendly likes, applause and support. Or a quick comment advising someone there’s other thought out there (if you do that though, share a source or articulated idea). But the intense and empty attacks that offer no depth is what bugs me.
And the lack of attempt to really connect in a positive way (even in disagreement), bugs me more. I can be guilty as I charge others. I’m also calling out my own laziness here. And I’m telling myself here, Wakefield, do better, and do more positive.
Thanks for reading.