It’s possible to use Social Media to be a better communicator and person. It seems obvious to me so; I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has already suggested it. Still, as a communicator by profession, I feel I can chime in on the subject and give some new light and attention. I do this to remind us of the power of communication. Bad communication gets attention, but good communication gets results. And it works out nicely that the process of learning to communicate better can make you a better person.
Is Social Media Dumbing Us Down?
Better and faster than any government-run school, social media is succeeding in dumbing down the population. This is not an inherent feature in the technology rather, this is a result of natural choice and bias. I won’t get into the manipulation of data or, how its presentation can be limited except to acknowledge their reality. Even when limited to a few short characters a message can be powerful. I want to focus on social media as a tool and we know, tools can be used for good or bad.
It is choice and preference and bias which enable dumbing down through social media. We filter, the platform filters, the people posting filter so, getting good complete information takes active effort. To use social media in a positive way requires all the things that make a strong communicator. The communicator must watch, listen and learn more than they speak. They must be concise and accurate with a message tailored to the audience. The message should rarely be confrontational in tone or language (both are important and different). The messenger should remain open-minded and accepting of new information. The discourser absolutely must remain in control of their emotion particularly in the face of critical feedback.
Put the Social Media Down and Step Away
You must put the Social Media down occasionally. Prioritize and manage your time on social media as you would any other project. I don’t know what the magic amount of time is, nobody does, it’s likely highly personal. I do know that it can be measured by frustration. If you feel like you’re being frustrated by the content you’re seeing posted, stop looking. If you’re getting angry or feeling anxious at the comments you’re reading, take a break.
You will get better faster if you step away and get on with other more important things. All the stupid, and ignorance and nastiness will still be there when you get back. You are in for a lot of disappointment if you think that will change, no matter how good you get at managing it. It helps to remember; you always have the option during Social Media interaction to keep scrolling. It’s ok to be offended and NOT offer an opinion on the offense or offender. Don’t let the people and the things they say around you occupy space in your mind when you dislike them.
The Hit and Run Method
When you do choose to interact, keep in mind the things that make a strong communicator I mentioned above. Say your point clearly and concisely using facts to back them up. Don’t assume that your fact isn’t just someone else’s opinion. If you’re speaking purely from an opinion on something, say so. If it’s a fact, produce some data. Use too many words and people tune out. Dilute your message using too few words. Keep your language and tone neutral. Use language targeted to your audience but, don’t insult them. The tone is already an issue any time we use written words. It’s far better to phrase your information as a question that invites thought than to try to force-feed your audience.
It takes two to social media tango. You can only control your reaction and your responses. Many others potentially read your posts who never comment or like so, don’t let the ones who do cause you to devalue or muddy your message. If you practice your presentation and some patience, your message will hold up. It’s the idea that you are planting seeds of information/knowledge. Planted in good soil it will grow and stand tall. Often, I’ll make a social media post following best communication practices and never go back. I resist the temptation to look at, let alone respond to, any comments good or bad. It will take practice. You will fail at times but you will fail less if, you keep your emotions in check.
You Got the Write Stuff Baby
It is no small thing that, after decades of decline in the face of telecommunications, the written word is back on top as THE communication method. The social media experience offers written interaction and access to written knowledge like nothing before. The onus is on you to manage and if necessary, change yourself to successfully communicate through social media. Interact with others respectfully and humbly and through strong communication practice, you can use social media to be a better communicator and person.