By Southland Vice-President Bernadette Hunt
I’ve been thinking about the social media chat following the Groundswell protest, and it has become really apparent to me that we’re really not clever about the way we use social media.
The one sign that upset so many people seemed to be everywhere on Facebook, and we only have ourselves to blame. So many of us were triggered, annoyed or angered by it, and showed our reactions with angry or sad faces, or comments denouncing it.
The thing is, social media operates on all “reactions”, not just the positive ones. So when a comment, post or photo gets under your skin, if you react, you help spread it further. Even if you share it with a comment explaining why you disagree with it, if someone else then shares it from your post, often your post disappears and the photo is shared in its original form.
And the further it spreads, the more mainstream and accepted it appears to be.
So, what should we do to avoid this?
Annoyingly, to make sure the messages that gain traction on social media are the right ones I reckon we need to think back to the advice of well-meaning parents, grandparents, teachers about how to respond to someone who says or does something you don’t like. Turn around, walk away, don’t respond. Any response, even just an angry face reaction or a comment on their post helps propel it to a wider audience.
I’ve fallen into this trap myself so many times, often to try and convince the original poster to see it from the other side. But I’m determined to change my ways. From now on I am only going to react to posts that portray messages I want to help promote. If it is negative, upsets or makes me angry, I’m going to try my hardest to not respond in any way.
I know the Feds’ comms team has been practising the “turn the other cheek” approach for the last few years on their social media ‘national’ accounts. The head of Feds comms, Leigh Catley, always says it’s not like you are going to change anyone’s mind with an angry or smart-arse Facebook post, in response to their angry or smart-arse Facebook post.
Let’s all try and operate this way on Facebook. Remember, any reaction or comment helps promote the message to a wider audience – so use your reactions wisely!