Sales and Sales Management Blog

August 21, 2008

Social Media–It Ain’t All Good

At times the praise of social media would make one think it equivalent to the Second Coming.  Although there are certainly many good things about the uses and potential uses of the various technology now available to businesspeople and businesses, I find that there is an element to social media that lends itself not to enhancing business and one’s ability to interact with others, but rather to coarsening business, leading users to communicate in ways that they would probably never–or maybe more correctly would never have done previous to social media–do in a traditional one-on-one format.

Although allowed in a number of places, the use of screen names instead of one’s name is most prevalent in community forums and allows people to comment without disclosing their real identity.  Inevitably, this ability to say what one wants without having to be responsible for the comment has lead to the breakdown in many cases of social norms and a very real coarsening of communication.

Up until recently, most of the coarsening of communication that I’ve noticed via the Internet has been somewhat limited-primarily to discussions of politics, religion, and other very personal areas.  That seems to be changing.

I’m beginning to see more and more personal attacks, vulgar language, and even veiled threats in business forums.  To date this coarsening in business communication seems to be relatively rare-but growing.  Even the Sales Sandbox on The Customer Collective in their tag line of “Learn*Share*Create*Play Nice” felt a need to ask users to be civil in their comments.

I suspect as more people encounter these instances of the breach of acceptable communication the practice will broaden and become more acceptable.  But as it becomes more acceptable on the net will that bleed over into our daily communication with one another?  To some extent it seems to have done so within other areas of discussion.

The available anonymity of social media is one of the major drawbacks of the technology.  If we could only eliminate screen names and communicate with one another once again as real humans!


1 Comment »

  1. Perhaps, I’m a little altruistic but I think that social media and the internet can only work with a collective will to learn and exchange information from those who participate. This means that to do well you have to be open. In a world of competition, there are some who define themselves by shooting down others which I don’t think is applaudable at all, but in a social network is damaging to the online community as a whole.

    The double edged sword, is that the internet gives an opportunity for anyone to contribute to the overall good of an industry. Anonymity on one hand can be encouraging to those who may not be used to the limelight, but as you say encourages vulgarity in those who thrive in showing others up. The collective will should extend to promoting those altruistic characteristics and discouraging the negative.

    Comment by Nesh Thompson — August 21, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Reply

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