Dear World: Let's Focus on Being Positive
We have been going through an amazing transformation of the past few years. I have had the privilege to watch revolutions happen before my eyes. I have become connected to people in the furthest reaches of the globe. I have had the opportunity to learn from, cry with, and rejoice with these new found friends. I feel lucky to be a part of this new found connection. Even with all this positive change I have been noticing a trend in social media where we seem to be growing more negative, and sometime downright vicious. I think it is time that we as a community work to change that! I know we can lead the way.
I can provide numerous examples of this negativity, but yesterday I came across one of the worst examples yet. Let me tell you about If you have kids like me, I am sure your heart will go out to this young girl Harper Gruzins. Harper is an aspiring singer who had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem before a Dallas/Los Angeles soccer match. It certainly did not go as well as she would have planned. Of course in this connected world the video was posted to youtube and has since gone viral. You can read more of the story here. The comments around the web are horrifying. Here are a few examples of comments:
"More like Harpie Gruzins. I hope she dies."
"someone... PLEASE shoot that bitch.. all the people clapping need gun permits.."
I could list them on and on. This is an 11-year-old girl. How would you feel if this were your daughter or sister? When did it become socially acceptable to act this way? It is time to say enough is enough and we need to lead the way!
We have had a lot of hot topics via social media lately and in many of them I have seen similar reaction. Highly personal and no real room for dialogue. If we want social media to continue to thrive we have to create a much better experience. We have to open ourselves up for dialogue, and even when we disagree, respecting the other person. Many have viewed the web and social media in general, as a "snarky" place. We are better than that and I know with your help we can be.
I know there are many reasons for the negative manner we express ourselves. Sometimes social is less personal than we would like which makes it easy to attach. At the same time, in my view, we have seen similar trends outside social. Social is just highlighting this culture that has been building up. It has a lot to do with our current economic environment and sometimes others such as news publication, political figure or celebrities. In my opinion this has been building since the late 90's or early 2000's. In the past optimistic figures have been able to guide the change, but in a socially connected world, we now have that power to drive an optimistic future and we should seize it. I think the best days are ahead of us and by working together we can get the world there.
I would like to propose August 14, 6 months after Valentine's day, as #PositivelySocial day. Just one day where we strive to create positive dialogue and recognize positive contributors to our life. Of course my view is this is just a start. We really need to strive to encourage people to be more open to other views and discuss in an open, respectful manner. By taking this one day we can show the world how great social media can be and avoid some of the stereotypical aspects that have been happening. I wrote more about this over on my blog so please check out that post.
Since first writing about this the other day I have had numerous people express similar sentiment. In fact Scott Monty did an eloquent post on his blog yesterday based on his observation. Can you help create this positive discussion? I would love your help to spread the word.
With your help we will continue to change the world! We can do it for Harper or anyone else who has experienced the 'other' side of web 2.0.
Frank Eliason is currently Senior Vice President of Social Media at Citibank and author of @YourService published by Wiley. Frank became well known in social media for the Customer Service outreach function that his team at Comcast was involved with. This work has been recognized by many news organizations such as ABC News, New York Times, Business Week, among many others. Follow Frank on ...
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