Social Media Love Seekers


We’ve seen a disturbing trend on social media over the last 12 to 24 months – people using it to make themselves feel better at the expense of others. Now this is slightly different to – and perhaps even the flipside of – cyberbullying – a catchword that has made headlines around the world and even birthed cyberbullying awareness programs, anti-bullying weeks, and countless government and other websites and fact sheets on how to counter, prevent, or avoid bullying and cyberbullying. But this “cyberlove-seeker” doesn’t get quite as much air time – though can create just as much angst.

I found myself confronted with this last year when someone directed members of a group I do not belong to, to have a look at a discussion that person and I were having on their profile (a discussion members of said group would not otherwise have seen had they not been subscribed to it). Why? I believe it was done primarily because the person felt bad about what I’d said and wanted their “friends” to make them feel better via their ‘virtual support’.

Unfortunately discussions on social media between parties are easily taken out of context – directing people who are not aware of the full situation to have a look and then share their own thoughts is counter-productive to the discussion and potentially damaging to the other party – and thus, technically, a form of bullying of the other party. Whilst the “cyberlove-seeker” feels supported by their network it’s a false support because that network has no idea what the full story is. It might make the person feel better, but in the eyes of the other party, you’ve just become a whiner – or worse, a bully.

Seth Godin recently wrote about a similar concept in his blog. He was referring to people who put forums on their sites or other places for customers to engage. Unfortunately the internet has created a plethora of arm chair critics and conversely ‘experts’ and these forums tend to attract those with little to contribute constructively. As Seth says:

“Just about every organization, every online service, every product and every element of our culture now has chat rooms and forums devoted to a few people looking for something to complain about. Some of them even do it on television.

The fascinating truth is this: the people in these forums aren’t doing their best work. They rarely identify useful feedback or pinpoint elements that can be changed productively either. In fact, if you solved whatever problem they’re whining about, they wouldn’t suddenly become enthusiastic contributors. No, they’re just wallowing in the negative ions, enjoying the support of a few others as they dish about what’s holding them back.”

So if you’re in business, are you using social media and forums for what they are intended – or are you one of the whiners?

In addition, there has been some use of social media for self-promotion disguised as helping others. Of course social media is a brilliant platform for self-promotion – but it’s also important that if you are trying to show the usefulness of your service, your skill and/or your expertise, that you enter these forums in the spirit they are intended: first and foremost as places to help. The self-promotion comes from actually being in the space and participating regularly – not just when you have something to sell. This is especially true if you are hoping to earn some money from the other members of the forum.

For those using their social networks as a virtual crutch perhaps these words from Susan Jeffers should be our parting comment:

“Remove those ‘I want you to like me’ stickers from your forehead and, instead, place them where they truly will do the most good – on your mirror.”

© Lyn Prowse-Bishop – eSOS


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