If you find that people on social media have a tendency toward anger and outrage there is one action we all can take to diffuse the situation. It’s simple, but first we have to stop and think. If there is but one practice that will help make social media more civil, it is to always read the full article or reference before sharing and especially before commenting. In short — RTFM.
I recently posted a link to an article on Twitter — How McKinsey Destroyed the Middle Class — with this quote, “In effect, management consulting is a tool that allows corporations to replace lifetime employees with short-term, part-time, and even subcontracted workers, hired under ever more tightly controlled arrangements … Technocratic management, no matter how brilliant, cannot unwind the structural inequalities that are dismantling the American middle class.” I don’t agree with the entire article but there is some truth that large consultancies have helped to get rid of middle management, blocking career growth for workers at the bottom of the hierarchy, and shifting non-management personnel to contracted or part-time workers.
I received this response to my tweet from someone I do not know, “Do I need to read the whole thing before I disagree with it? Blaming management consulting companies for decisions made by the companies that hire them?” That first sentence is indicative of a dominant behaviour on social media networks. It is reflective of the Internet of Beefs where the only objective is to win an argument, not to understand. We all may have commented on something that we did not bother to read in full. But we need to see that behaviour for what it does — it makes us stupid. Our stupidity can be contagious, says Nicholas Christakis.
“Most of us are already aware of the direct effect we have on our friends and family; our actions can make them happy or sad, healthy or sick, even rich or poor. But we rarely consider that everything we think, feel, do, or say can spread far beyond the people we know. Conversely, our friends and family serve as conduits for us to be influenced by hundreds or even thousands of other people. In a kind of social chain reaction, we can be deeply affected by events we do not witness that happen to people we do not know. It is as if we can feel the pulse of the social world around us and respond to its persistent rhythms. As part of a social network, we transcend ourselves, for good or ill, and become a part of something much larger. We are connected.” —Connected
So let us all work on making our networks a little smarter. The essence of personal knowledge mastery is — Seek > Sense > Share. We can start the journey to smarter networks with another alliterative reminder — Read > Reflect > Respond.