It’s not a new phenomena but I have been struck of late with the rather unfortunate rise in rude, offensive and provocative language some people are using with a high degree of regularity on social media when providing their comments. Unfortunately, how they are expressing their views often says much more about the person than what they are actually commenting on. We’d all be wise to remember this.
Now debating is good as is expressing one’s owns views. Hearing varying viewpoints gives one perspective; often we say to ourselves as we read someone’s thoughts, “Hmm…I hadn’t thought of that myself”. When we hear a contradictory point of view or even a varying point of view, it gives us more information; an opportunity presents itself for us to learn something new and with that other information we might shift our point of view or not. Sometimes that other person’s views only reinforce our own of course and that’s perfectly fine; we are entitled after all to think for ourselves.
What I don’t particularly understand however is when people respond on social media which are in their nature public platforms, using strong, offensive language, cursing others with viewpoints other than their own. They use derogatory words that spew outright hate and refer to others who think differently than themselves as idiots. I imagine – although I have no way of knowing – that these same people wouldn’t dare use the same kind of language in person, and more importantly they wouldn’t talk as such in their workplaces.
Here of course we hit upon a subject of great debate which will no doubt bring people down strongly on one side or other. When we aren’t at work and we are on social media at the local coffee shop or in the comfort of our own home, is what we post on social media impacting us alone or does it extend to the reputation of those organizations to which we are employed? Some think they should be able to say whatever they want as freedom of speech issue; and further they should be able to say it with whatever words they feel like using without repercussions. However, as I say there are always others with varying perspectives.
Yet, when we hear someone’s point of view, it’s often significant to learn where the person is coming from which gives perspective to their commentary. Part of figuring out what their agenda is that shapes their point of view is knowing what political party they represent, what company they work for, what part of the country they live in, what their cultural background is etc. This background information often enlightens us who read their comments; knowing where they are coming from ‘explains it’ so to speak.
The thing one always should bear in mind though is the impact of the words we choose to use in expressing our points of view. Why? Simply put, while we might not care what others think of our views, our vocabulary or even us as people, the companies we work for care immensely. So much so in fact that they may go so far as to choose to disassociate themselves completely from us which is a kind way of saying we could be parting ways. That angry, venom-spewing tirade we post one day could be viewed as damaging the reputation of the organization we work for the next by association and we find we’re fired.
Again, some people strongly believe that what they say away from the workplace shouldn’t be anybody’s business but their own. That viewpoint however isn’t shared by everyone and if you’re relying on your employment for your livelihood, you might be best advised to check out the extent to which you can say what you want outside the workplace.
In Ontario, there was an announcement just a couple of days ago about the minimum wage rising to $14 on January 1, 2018 and then to $15 on January 1, 2019. While some applaud this move to strengthen the income levels of the impoverished, others lament the increases. That in and of itself seems only logical; varying viewpoints on an important issue. The impact of this decision affects low-income earners, business owners, taxpayers and politicians. In short, there is almost no one this decision won’t impact in some way.
Of course, many people have taken to social media, letting anybody who cares to know, exactly what they think of the move. Swearing, exclamation marks that imply shouting, profanity, insults, mud-slinging, defamatory remarks, put-downs; unfortunately the worst of us collectively is there on display. Why do we feel we have to assert our views while putting the people who hold contrary views down? Can’t we just express our own views civilly and leave it at that? Are all the other people who don’t believe what we believe automatically reduced to being devoid of a modicum of intelligence? What happened to respect for those with varying views?
I’m happy we have vehicles to express our points of view; happier still that we have social media to bring us views of others world-wide. Prior to the internet we were often confined to news organizations exclusively to expose us to others points of view: newspapers, radio, television and / or town halls and soap boxes. Hurray for progress.
Speak your mind of course, just mind your speak. Your reputation and by association those around you ride on your words.