I’m not getting together in person with very many people these days. I connect with all my professional friends on social media and email. And you people are remarkably consistent — you either offer value, or you don’t.
Here’s what I value: original, thoughtful content, and information I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. For example:
- Data, whether you collected it or not, that I haven’t seen before.
- A new perspective on things that are happening in the world.
- Personal content about what is happening with you.
- Links to news, especially from reliable sources I don’t usually see.
- Funny stuff (at least the first few times I see it).
Here’s what I don’t value:
- Conspiracy theories and other unverifiable garbage from questionable sources.
- Invitations to get outraged along with a thousand other people. (“This is the last straw! They can’t go any lower!”)
- Articles from a week ago, or a month ago, or five years ago, that you just noticed and decided to share without checking the date.
- The same lame-o biased talking points (“What would Republicans say if Obama did this?” for the hundredth time. Or anything else that just parrots talking points from whatever side you’re on.)
I’m paying attention. I value other people who assume we’re all paying attention.
I see you
I think I have a pretty good idea of how people see me online. Overcommunicates, always something interesting, can’t tolerate bullshit, liberal but contrarian, respectful of insights, thought-provoking. I’m sure there are other adjectives (curmudgeonly?), and I’m sure you’ll tell me what they are.
But how do people see you?’
Are you the person who, every time you post, makes me think and go “hmm?” Wow, that level of consistent insight is amazing. I admire you. I am privileged to have many friends like this.
Are you the woman who shares biased crap and nothing else? I see you. I know who you are. At what point since we went to high school together did you cease critical thinking altogether?
Are the guy who posts every day with the same repeated talking points and outrage? Who are you trying to convince?
Are you the “thought leader” who posts nothing but promotions of your own content? Stop posting for a second and calculate how much that’s benefitting you, and how much it’s costing your reputation.
Are you the gentleman who’s always sharing the article we all saw last week? I guess the news gets to wherever you are more slowly than in the rest of the connected world. If you’re the last to read it, don’t bother posting it.
Are you the person who responds to every post you don’t like with a personal attack? Charming. I don’t find troll wars all that entertaining. But it’s good to know you’re an outrage junkie.
Are you the all-memes-all-the-time person? Borrowing wit doesn’t make you witty.
Are you the one who shares the same thing — exactly the same — on all social channels, as if you’re turning the megaphone in different directions and shouting? Is it hard to manage all that? Is it hard to hear anyone else over your own voice?
I have an opinion. I may even agree with you. I may disagree with you. But I am a thinking person. I value things that make me think. If you don’t make me think, I will end up wondering about you.
Consider two things:
First, that yes, we’re living in horrifying, trying times — but sharing the same old outrage back and forth tends to generate more heat than light. Are you actually helping?
And second, you are who you appear to be on social media, especially if you’ve developed these patterns. If you don’t want to look like an idiot, a loser, or a mindless follower, don’t keep posting like one.