Should you warn social media friends about their posting habits?

Should you warn social media friends about their posting habits?

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We all have social media “friends” who spend nearly all of their online time promoting their politics, usually from the stand point of anger and outrage. Their lives appear consumed by anger and outrage to the point that the only thing they have to talk about is how awful politician X is, or political party Y is, or about how we must all support protest Z (and if we don’t agree, then we are Nazis or Marxists).

Anger Triggers a Response

Triggering anger in others is more likely to illicit an online response – and to be shared online.

“anger is more influential than other emotions like joy, which indicates that angry tweets can spread quickly and broadly in the network”

Anger is a way to get attention, to get more comments, to have your posts shared. It’s a step barely removed from narcissism, to make yourself the center of attention.

Who Wants to Hang Out with Angry People?

If you step back from angry people for a moment, you might ask “Who wants to hang out with people who are perpetually angry and outraged?”

I follow several people in aviation, agriculture, travel on some social media – they are successful, in large part, because they present a positive image and outlook. When I watch their Youtube videos or read their posts on Instagram, I often learn something new – or am filled with wonder. I am not “triggered” into fits of anxiety, anger or outrage.

Who wants to hang out with people who are perpetually angry and outraged, and spending every chance they can to tell you how to think and that you must adopt their agenda – or you are a Nazi or a Marxist?

Should You Warn Your Angry Friends?

The corollary question is: should you mention this to your angry friends? Is this what they want for their online legacy?

That is a question I cannot answer. I have friends, even an extended family member or two – whose online persona is the perpetually angry. Should I mention to them how they come across to others? I do not know and so far, I have not said a word and am unlikely to say anything. Instead, I no longer read their social media content.

Does Anyone Care What You Think?

No one cares what any of us think! Unless you are already a person of influence, hold a prestigious position, or are a celebrity – essentially no one cares what you have to say. The result is your followers become the like minded – you are no longer persuading anyone to change their mind as the people who read your comments already agree. Thus, your venting your anger serves no purpose at all except to get positive feedback from the similarly angry and outraged! All the angry posts do is drive some of your potential readers away – and cause many to worry about your mental health.

Are you an Online Angry Person? Can You Change?

Up through early 2016, I posted social media comments on the Affordable Care Act. I correctly forecast that the ACA would triple our premiums and reduce our coverage, and dramatically increase our deductibles. Where we now live, an ACA policy for the two of us would cost about $1,400/month with a $13,000 to $16,000 deductible, or about $2,000/month with a $7,000 to $9,000 deductible. The costs became so high we had to drop out of the market. The ACA failed us. But I soon learned, no one cared.

I tried to warn of these problems and how to fix them. I researched (likely over 1,000 hours of my time) and wrote a 50+ page paper with a huge number of references – explaining why this happened and how to fix it. Even though my paper was read by insurance industry economists, actuaries, government staffers, politicians – and even influenced a law that was passed in my State – the reality was that no one cared what I had to say because I did not have the right credentials. I spoke with a staff manager in the office of a U.S. Senator that was very interested in what I had to say – until he asked me if I had a PhD or worked as an executive in the industry – when I said no, I have just two Masters degrees, the conversation was ended.

I recognized that using social media to influence others was, for most of us, pointless, and only made us look like angry people. I also realized that we are, in fact, powerless, to influence meaningful change – unless we have the credentials in place before hand.

Consequently, I stopped posting policy items on social media. I eventually deleted all of my Facebook content and all past Twitter tweets. I no longer post anything related to politics on any social media outlet.

Was it hard to stop? Of course. It is hard to break an old habit. But eventually you recognize it was the right thing to do – and leads to less anxiety, less anger, less frustration.

This Blog

I am giving more thought to how I present information on this blog and how it comes across. I originally intended this blog as a place to document social media propaganda posters – how they work and how so many of them are not true.  After the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, I dramatically cut my use of social media, which means I no longer see many propaganda memes. I then switched to a focus on media-based propaganda and media errors, which comes across as negativity.

I could return to watching for social media propaganda posters but I do not want to return to the social media mess and noise, though. Not sure in what direction I should take this blog. It’s hard to write commentary on a subject without being critical – rather than uplifting. The latter is what I would prefer to be doing.

I post these items on a blog – not social media – because social media is “in your face”. What your friends post is automatically rotated into view – you do not have much control over what you see. But with a blog, it is entirely up to you whether you wish to come here and read these posts. You can easily ignore a negative post on this blog!

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