Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Please pass the self-esteem

A couple of months back at work, I was at a meeting where our Head of Communications made a  presentation about how our office monitors negative commentary on the web and decides whether or not to take action.  The decision hinges upon the nature of the comment and how it impacts our company.  Very simply put, for every bit of negative press or commentary that is picked up, they go through a series of yes or no questions, each yes or no influencing whether action should be taken and what that action should be.  Action is based on the impact of the comment on our business and action can also be doing nothing,  responding directly to the comment, putting out a press release or issuing a communication to our clients.

The point is that going through this exercise is supposed to force us as a company to not react in a knee-jerk fashion, but to stop, think and breathe before reacting and to think about whether responding is really in our best interests.

It's pretty good advice.

Nowadays in our don't-hold-it-in world people are sharing everything.  Oversharing is now a legit word.

With the immediate access to information and the ability to add to the dialogue simply by posting to a comment thread, having a blog or posting a status update or Tweet, the dialogue is getting bigger and bigger.

And unfortunately a lot more hostile.  

It's amazing how judgmental and downright cruel people are.  Just in the last week alone I have read vitriolic comments on 3 of my regular blogs, blogs  all written by courageous women, sharing their stories with the world.  And what do they get?

Trolls, self appointed intellectuals, making haughty comments, saying things about word usage or telling people the choices they have made in their own lives are wrong, immoral or cruel.    It's way easier to sit and make comments about other people's lives than to address your own.  

I  try to be balanced and diplomatic but also truthful in my comments but of course that is all influenced by who I am as a person, what my views are, how close to home a particular topic hits and whether or not I have had enough coffee.  Sometimes I am snarky, sometimes ultra supportive and sometimes frustrated.  That comes out in my blog, in the comments I make.  

But it works both ways. 

Look, if you write a blog and share your message with the world, you have to be prepared that some people aren't going to agree with you and are not going to like what you have to say.  As a blogger you have to be prepared for that and not get your panties in a wad every time someone doesn't agree with you.  

That's what a dialogue is, people sharing different opinions on topics.

You put your message out there, on a blog or even a Facebook status, you have to be ready that people will react to it  and you have to be prepared that people may voice their opinions about it.  And their opinions might be different to yours, because let's face it, the sum total of our baggage influences our opinions.  My life experience is different to someone else's and I bring that with me on every blog post, status update or share that I read.  

It irritates me when a blogger gets upset over his/her negative commentary.  I've had negative comments too and sure they bother me, but in the end what I am putting out there are my own opinions and experiences.  I am in the driver's seat of my life and while I value people's opinions and can even learn from others who think differently I am not so vulnerable to the opinion of others that any negative comment shakes my tree so much that I need to furiously email my friends and ask for a barrage of positive comments or post warnings on my blog that negative comments will be deleted.  Delete whatever you want it's your blog. 

What we are in life we are online.  And just like how in life you need to ignore certain people, you need to do that online as well.  Stopping and breathing are good.  Have more faith in yourself and your choices, don't be so co-dependent on what others think

I mean listen, the Web is like a huge buffet, you have lots of dishes lined up and you pick and choose the ones you want to put on your plate, you take the wonderful looking veggies and the rare roast beef and pass on the congealed potato salad.

Self esteem people.  To thine own self be true (or whatever that saying is).

And PS - this blog post has been waiting to be posted for two months!

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