Facebook On Fire: Sometimes the Best Reaction is Muted Reaction

Opinion, News Analysis, and Social Media 

facebook-on-fireFacebook is a lousy place for a group discussion. There are no debate or discussion guidelines. Reading a Facebook rant is like watching a coyote howl at the moon. Surely a message will be heard, but it’s likely misunderstood and won’t change anybody’s mind.

Depending on one’s vantage point, events and outcomes of the past week or so generated wildly different reactions. The biggest matter at hand was/is the SCOTUS Ruling on marriage equality.

“Facebook is the public square for the digital age, and thunderous array of posts, observations, and opinions has caused it to short-circuit.” ~ Andy Ebon

Forming Perspective

People see virtually everything through experience: Geography, neighborhood, country… the politics of our parents and relatives, the sophistication of our schools… the brands and products used in our household, music influence from an older sibling or friends… the religion practiced in one’s family, teachers who taught the process of critical thinking, dinner tables discussions which allowed for differences of opinion.

Enter, The Bell Curve

Facebook in FireIn any set of polling numbers, there tend to be 3-5 distinct segments of opinion. Using the simplest set of three opinions, there are two extremes. each with roughly 20%. The middle segment is the remaining 60%. The extreme opinions tend to be rock solid, whatever their reasoning.

The middle group is more likely to shift with discussion and debate. And somewhere along the line, a majority opinion is formed.

Don’t quibble about my suggest numbers. It could be 30% – 40% – 30%, but the personalities still apply. There is also another segment defined by frustration. In election and proposition politics, these people can become disenchanted and choose not vote.

Public Opinion is Evolutionary and Slow-Changing

,,, and the politicians are usually the last to figure it out.

  • in 1920, our country was almost 150 years old, when women were ‘granted the right to vote.’ (19th Amendment) In five years, celebration of women voting will reach one full century. Many developed countries, worldwide, have elected Prime Ministers and Presidents, yet the USA has barely tapped the potential of its female citizenry for the Senate, Congress, and Presidency.
  • In 1969, came the tipping point for the America’s gay community. “The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community  against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of ManhattanNew York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United Statessource Wikipedia
  • And this past week, marriage equality became the law of the land in the United States, 48 years after interracial marriage became a reality.

A Key Historical Note

The United States was built on two key platforms (among others): Freedom of Religion and the separation of Church and State. (note: see this detailed explanation of Freedom of Religion in the United States).

Extreme Facebook

Facebook in FireThese last few days Facebook has been a torrent of aggressive pontificating, in part lacking specific knowledge of the events and symbols of history, that led up to these landmark changes.

It’s reasonable to understand the celebration and jubilation of oppressed citizens as blue skies began to appear.

It’s also fair that people who hold longstanding religious practices or skewed social outlooks immediately shout ‘Hell, no!’. 

“The fact that the Supreme Court has decided (in a 5-4 vote)  for reasons of law, with the current beliefs of 60% of the population does not wave a magic wand over the remaining 40%. Getting more closely aligned will take more time.” 

~ Andy Ebon

Facebook: In the present tense

How about calling a timeout on projecting extreme opinions on Social Media? You know… let’s all take a chill pill… for maybe a week or two. Don’t make awkward attempts at sexual humor or people who are different to you. What’s funny to you may scare away some of your closest friends in business.

People who were MIA during the run-up to the marriage equality by SCOTUS are experiencing backlash, being labeled as bandwagon jumpers and opportunists; suddenly the alleged low-hanging fruit in a windfall LGBTQ marriages.

The nature of Social Media begs us to pop off. Let your thoughts marinate… then edit them, and see what social media platform they belong on, IF ANY.

Facebook in FireSearch for Empathy

It wouldn’t hurt any of us to develop a feel for empathy; understanding another person or group’s perspective through their eyes and context.

Combining empathy with being somewhat slower to react to events, large or small, makes for better collaboration, decisions, and middle ground.

Hope to meet up with you on the middle ground of reaction… It’s a calmer, and more thoughtful place.

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Facebook un-friending surges in wake of Zimmerman verdict

News Analysis, Opinion, and Perspective by Andy Ebon

Empathy is defined as:

“The intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing 

of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.”

Facebook un-friendingLike most people, in many situations, I have an opinion and  often believe I have ‘the right opinion’ or ‘the best idea of multiple choices.’ 

I have friends who refer to their ‘right answer’ as a ‘no-brainer.’ It isn’t that simple.

I suggest that having a strong (sometimes inflexible) opinion is often jeopardized by an absence of empathy for other people’s points of view. And that contradistinction can cause a deep divide between people.

As the internet-driven world has amplified communication through message boards, reply all emails, eNewsletters, and a wide assortment of social media options, our good judgment has not kept up at a comparable pace.

Please understand, I’m not preaching my opinion, here, so much as I’m speaking from my own experience of ‘being out-of-bounds’. And, in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, the colossal number of cringe-worthy Facebook posts is particularly disturbing.

Freedom of Speech is not the issue. That is a matter of government censorship. We have the freedom to say whatever we choose (in the United States); however, there may be ramifications… from the push-back of our employer, friends, family, or the organizations and institutions that surround us.

And so it has been on Facebook… a textbook demonstration on how NOT to have a discussion. 

Please note: I haven’t lost my lust for the occasional provocative opinion; however, of late, I have become more thoughtful about how quickly OR IF I choose to let-it-fly.

You can’t un-ring the bell!

In the last few months, I have become more sensitive (sometimes annoyed) about the level of unnecessary noise on social media platforms. Extreme opinions, dominating the post-verdict Facebook activity, were often thoughtless.

Certainly, people have a right to express their opinion. However, it’s not particularly reasonable to expect that people will ALL quietly read and listen. Many will fire back.

Some people were calm in their demeanor, though they were the smallest group, from what I observed.

Crushing a relationship in one stroke

The sad part of this episode has been observing otherwise friendly peers, alienate each other, in a moment. People who get along, and agree on a plethora of business matters, suddenly felt compelled to un-friend one or more peers, in response to ultra-strong points-of-view.

Respecting the Medium

As a blogger and social media user, I have taken adopted a more patient and thoughtful approach. Sadly, these last couple of days, I have been disappointed by so many wedding professionals, letting their politics and related opinions bleed into their business space.

Digital Discussions

Wedding professionals complain, incessantly, about how “Brides think emails and the like are a discussion. Why don’t they just pick up the phone?”

I would suggest, in the same vein, that Facebook is a questionable forum to have a political discussion with business peers, relatively few of whom we truly know, well.

You are, indeed, entitled to your opinion. Winning an argument can certainly a reasonable goal. But remember, you can permanently trash a relationship without winning anything. Being outspoken is a choice. Sometimes it’s necessary, even a worthy action. All too often, it’s not just a waste of time, energy, and thought, it’s unnecessary, repulsive and hurtful.

You are entitled to your opinion. On any given issue, there are rarely two sides to the story, there are often many points of view. You are entitled to VOICE your opinion. Please voice it with empathy and care.

Your thoughts are welcome,

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog