We are happy to share an article from our friend Eric Z. Johnson, of Eric Z. Johnson.com where he is on a mission to help business owners simplify their lead generation process and win new clients in a streamlined and authentic way, so they too can have highly profitable businesses, titled Striving Toward Inclusive and Belonging-Friendly Social Media.
Striving Toward Inclusive and Belonging-Friendly Social Media
Do you have a love/hate relationship with social media? If so, you’re not alone. It is an ever-evolving tool that can bring us together, or divide us. It’s one way people can show us who they are, and who they aren’t. Although there are many perks and benefits to social media, the good comes from the bad.
Anyone on social media is no stranger to reading hateful comments. Perhaps you have read or experienced bullying and/or social injustice there as well.
As leaders, what is our response to social injustice and bullying?
While bullying needs no introduction, social injustice possibly does. Social injustice occurs when equals are treated unequally. Three of the most common examples of social injustice are discrimination, ageism, and homophobia. Discrimination can also focus on someone’s disability, status as a parent, faith, national origin, race or sex.
Have you experienced any of those? Have you been the victim to bullying online or off? It is a painful experience at any age.
I remember once when someone left a comment saying, “You’re too old to be on Instagram!” Ouch! I guess someone didn’t tell me the cut-off age.
Last year, two family members unfriended me on Facebook. I’m not sure why. Any communication from them came to a halt. It most likely had to do with sharing a video clip called “Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man”. It was created by Emmanuel Acho in an effort to shed light on racial injustice through a real, authentic and safe conversational place.
On Facebook, I saw a clip of two women who at one point in the video kissed. There were several comments in line with the “Nobody wants to see that!”
In-person, people act differently. They may give a judgmental look. Maybe they ignore what’s going on or simply leave. Social media is a different animal. It gives people the opportunity to express their hate and/or anger in a mostly unfiltered and uncensored way. Social media makes it easy and fast for people to discriminate and bully. It’s only a few seconds of typing or texting for them. Yet, for the recipient, it can create days, weeks, or possible even years of hurt, heartache or anger.
When discrimination or bullying are happening on social media, if you are not the victim, then you’re a observer. What do you do when you see a friend or colleague being discriminated against or bullied online? It can be a hard spot.
If you speak up and comment on a hateful post, it can turn the discriminator or bully on you. If you’re a business owner, this person can look you up online and leave negative reviews on unmoderated review sites. If you do not speak up, you will perhaps deal with guilt. Maybe you try to shrug it off, telling yourself it’s not your battle.
In 2017, I was cyberbullied and verbally attacked on Twitter by a LinkedIn coach. He said I copied one of his online articles and that my article was a carbon copy of his. This was not true. Despite responding in a professional way, he persisted tweeting rude commentary and tagging me each time. He called me a thief, along with other names. Although I wanted to react and shoot back heated responses, fortunately I didn’t.
Keep in mind that everything on Twitter is public. Anyone could read the tweets. Here I was, a well-read MBA in my early 40’s… and it hurt. I felt all alone. Nobody was coming to my side. Nobody helped. There was no Twitter Police to call. Nobody jumped in to intervene. It was a horrible experience and affected me more than I expected. My only solution was to block him. Ultimately, I felt powerless despite having done nothing wrong.
When you know people are dealing with these types of things, reach out to them. When people are attacked online, speak up in some way. Help. Show them that they are not alone. Ask them how you can help.
Ultimately, you have to decide how to get involved. My best advice is to put yourself in their shoes, listen to your intuition, and take action accordingly. You never know who is watching and the impact that it will have on them.
Silence is complicity is a sobering statement, isn’t it? “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.” Martin Luther King Jr.
The first step is personal. You want to determine and get clear on how you feel about this topic and what you believe. As related to this topic, 1) What is true for you? 2) What is your stance? 3) What do you stand for?
We clearly see the problems and obstacles online. How do we create solutions and healing online? How can we lead on social media? Is there an antidote? While there is no easy answers, here are some options and recommendations:
- Make your online presence inclusive and belonging-friendly. Clearly show that you advocate for everyone’s rights. This can be done with words, images, videos or any combination of those elements.
- Share and/or create content that promotes social justice, belonging and inclusion.
- Explore volunteering in person or online with organizations that take a stand for social justice, equality and/or protecting others from cyberbullying.
- Support diversity in whatever way you can. Do you know a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) or LGBTQ+ business owners? Introduce them to people who may need their services. Share their business posts to help them gain more visibility. Look for ways to connect people both online and in-person if you sense they will benefit from knowing each other.
- Life and business get going fast, don’t they? The final tip is to set automated text or email reminders to share inclusive content on a regular basis. This could be once a month or once a week. It’s your choice.
“Live for what’s worth dying for, and leverage technology to create the world you wish to see.” Aram Rasa Taghavi
My best friend and I were talking about online discrimination and bullying recently. She shared this. “There will be no antidote until those who are fed up with this behavior actually take a stand and begin implementing and sharing a kinder, more inclusive, less judgmental view of the world. Learning about one’s own biases in life (personal, work, religious, gender/sexuality, etc) can go a long way in empathy, inclusion, and compassion for others.” Jerri Davis
There are 7.8 billion people on the planet right now. The variety, uniqueness and richness of human beings is endless. Every day brings a breathtaking invitation for each of us to be aware of what’s happening in other people’s worlds. Learning about their world and experiences only serves to expand and enrich our worlds and who we are. Every day brings us a call to honor, respect and protect the vastness of human range and differences. A primary way to do that nowadays is to be mindful of our social media, what they’re experiencing on social media, and taking action accordingly based on our own integrity and intuition. There is work to do. Let’s do it together.
How does it apply to you in your life?
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