Does Social Media dilute our integrity?

Social media integrity

 

 

 

I did not publish a post on this blog on either Thursday or Friday, I have a good excuse, I had yet another long, uncomfortable and gruelling session at the dentist. Another 4 teeth extracted, all difficult. Casualties of the medicines I have been taking since my heart attack in 2010. I did write about it before, but for those who did not see it, be warned, if you are taking any of the common medications to prevent a heart attack, ask your doctor what effect they will have on your teeth.

In a previous post  – How much does social media shape what we are for or against? I quoted and inserted a link to, a list of things to be “For” or “Against” by Perry Marshall.

On the way to the dentist and while there to keep my mind off the ordeal, it occurred to me that I had not really done justice to the title of that post. How much does social media really shape what we stand for or believe?

Then while catching up on blogs I follow, I was intrigued to read this post  Our Comfy Corners of the Internet by one of my favourite bloggers, Amber Naslund on her blog Brass Tack thinking. Amber wrote about how having ideas and opinions can make one lonely and her realisation that “You can’t please everyone”. Click on the link above and read her post to get the full importance of what she wrote.

To the question in today’s title then, does Social Media dilute our integrity?

Does the overwhelming flood of information we are exposed to – especially if we use multiple social media platforms and follow numerous blogs as part of our business – water down our conviction when we realise that we are going against the flow of opinion?

Does it make us more tolerant of minority or different opinions?

Can it persuade us to abandon beliefs we have held all our lives?

Can it seduce us into supporting positions we previously opposed?

Or does it turn us into a bland politically correct version of our former determined selves?

It can do all of these things if we allow it. It also seems that  many people do not want to be seen as too controversial in the public forum of social media so they tone down their messages.

I am a firm believer in this quotation by Bill Cosby  “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” 

For me, having spent my formative years in Rhodesia, a country fighting for its very survival, abandoned by its supposed allies, I got a good idea from my mid teens onwards what it was like to take a stand against most of the world. I would imagine much like the people of Israel still endure.  As a consequence of that and of experiencing further strife in Africa for most of my life, I have very strong beliefs about many subjects. For starters: politics, NGO’s, aid to Africa, the hypocrisy of the West, the arrogance of the anti-gun lobby, the erosion of individual rights and freedoms and the biggest dangers to Western civilisation of all, political correctness and the creeping tentacles of the nanny state.

Perhaps with that background, I have no problem disagreeing with popular opinion in the various groups and platforms in social media. I believe that our values are what make us who we are, suppress or discard our core values and we are left with shadows of our former selves. I have no problem with being viewed as confrontational, contrary, conservative, even eccentric at times. But to be thought of as bland or bending with the wind would be a criticism hard to take. That  old idiom “Run with the hare and hunt with the hounds” comes to mind.

Having the courage of one’s convictions does not excuse plain bad manners and uncouth behaviour, regrettably many opponents seem to believe that the protection of an anonymous user name is an excuse for language and comments that they would not use in a more public forum. Disagreement is good, healthy debate helps us learn, but abuse and personal attacks do not.

In a comment on Amber’s blog, I wrote about not being able to please everyone all the time:

I think we all have to reach that realisation before we can really be comfortable with who we are, some of us reach it earlier in life than others, some never do.

It’s the other side of the commitment coin (to ideas as well as people) it’s hard to be 100% committed to anything if we are continually worrying about other people’s opinions.”

Social media can expose us to people and opinions that we would not normally be exposed to in our off-line lives. In that respect, I believe that it can increase our tolerance for different people, groups, life-styles. It can also harden our pre-conceived notions about others.

What do you think? Is social media a unifying or disruptive force? Does it create more tolerance or incubate prejudice?  Reinforce our commitment to our core values or change our thinking?

Or is it all of the above?

Agree or disagree, leave your comments below, disagreement is tolerated, profanity or spam are not.

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.

Peter Wright

 

 

 

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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  9 comments for “Does Social Media dilute our integrity?

  1. Don haider
    March 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I believe people will use online social media just as they would their own offline lives. Some will show their true character while others will present a false front. Some just use the media for family and close friends to connect , and games and gossip and just socializing. While others see the potential to increase their business or political action causes or the freeflow of valuable information. Either way it is run by advertising, without the money paid by all kinds of advertisers, how would it survive? I personally post what I believe and find interesting and connect with people for business and pleasure. The one aspect of social media I love, is connecting with people around the globe to understand their culture and beliefs and lifestyles and develop lasting worthwhile relationships.

    • March 21, 2012 at 10:13 am

      I think you are right about most people’s use of social media Don, but I do think there are others on both extremes who change their behaviour. Either by hiding behind the supposed anonymity to behave more badly than in real life, or overly fearful of criticism, adopt a more bland persona than their real one.

  2. March 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I think it’s important to understand that Social Media is a Medium. It’s a tool to be used however we see fit. Although there are generally accepted guidelines to follow if we want to have a pleasant experience, we don’t have to follow them at all. Some people use it as a tool to bring others down to their level, those people think that they can’t do anything but work a 9-5 job and that’s all they’ll do until they change the way their minds work. Social Media itself is an object, as I said earlier, it’s a medium. It does nothing but allow us to share things we love and our own points of view. While I do think that people hide behind it and others use it to express themselves, it’s a great tool to be had. Can the information shared change us? I think you said it best, “Only if we let it.” I’m under the impression that change is good, as long as it’s for the betterment of humanity.

    • March 21, 2012 at 10:09 am

      Good reminder Roger, it seems some people forget that it is a just medium and think it is their whole environment in a virtual sense. Perhaps just like we got over the novelty of telephones and colour TV, we will all eventually relegate social media to a position of less importance than face to face relationships.

  3. rictownsend
    March 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I believe as people begin to realise that ‘the web’ and social media is as much a part of their real lives as everything else they will start to understand the importance of their behaviour on the web. I am involved in a social media ‘game’ that brings out both the best and worst in the people playing and the issue of integrity has been discussed at great length. I think social media can put us under the spotlight and of course what we do and say will remain a record and in the public domain for perhaps even for eternity. Whether the belief that we are somewhat anonymous on the web contributes to more of some peoples less than desirable behaviour or not I am undecided. Ric http://www.orglearn.org

  4. rictownsend
    March 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I believe as people begin to realise that ‘the web’ and social media is as much a part of their real lives as everything else they will start to understand the importance of their behaviour on the web. I am involved in a social media ‘game’ that brings out both the best and worst in the people playing and the issue of integrity has been discussed at great length. I think social media can put us under the spotlight and of course what we do and say will remain a record and in the public domain for perhaps even for eternity. Whether the belief that we are somewhat anonymous on the web contributes to more of some peoples less than desirable behaviour or not I am undecided. Ric http://www.orglearn.org

    • March 21, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Interesting observation about that social media “game” Ric, I was an early adopter in that and stayed involved for about a year. I made some good contacts with very interesting people that still endure. I also saw a number of others exhibit less desirable behaviour.

  5. March 22, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    It is so funny that you would bring this up as I had one such negative encounter turn very positive just this week.

    A rep at a company used my advertising dollars to contact me about a company I had no dealings with. Her hope was to market this product to me because it also was in the health niche.

    I was ticked that this took place for many reasons not the least of which was the concept of a “conflict of interest”. I called the company and complained. A day later I received a call from the perpetrator and an apology.

    As the call went forward she took a direct interest in my product and ended up making a purchase of pain relief.

    Let’s review… I caused trouble trouble for her because of what she did at the company she was working at. She in turn purchased my product. I’m not sure I would have done the same but it may explain the power of negative marketing.

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