There’s respecting ppls feelings… and then there’s just going too far.

Posted: January 2, 2010 in social media
Tags: , ,

When I first started out in the social media world, I read all of Chris Brogan’s blog posts.  I followed him on Twitter.  I commented and conversed when I had the guts to.  I took his opinion as true.  I didn’t have enough knowledge to disagree.  As I found other personalities to follow and discovered that there are many people that are just as smart as Chris, I read his posts less and theirs more.  But that’s just part of broadening our horizons.  The more we delve into a topic, the more sources we’re likely to start pulling from for a well rounded view.

Earlier last month, he posted something about the emotional attachment to data management.  As in, when we think we are simply clicking a button to clean up our connections, we don’t realize the emotional impact it has on the person we’re removing. He says:

I’d say that people who use social networks extensively (versus people trying to plumb the system for business purposes) would feel a little something, should they find themselves defriended.

It says you’re not important. It says you’re no longer relevant. It says you’re no longer entitled to a more intimate view and sharing. There are lots of potential combinations to feel when one is unfollowed or defriended.

People.  We’re talking on computers.  There are only so many hours in a day and so many people that fit into those hours with which to have quality conversations and build connections with.  How does someone unfriending you say you’re unimportant?  It’s a button on a computer that we’ve given too much social context and power to.  Now, if this is somebody whom you have repeated conversations with, that adds value to your day, and one day you “unfriend” them.  Yes, that says something.  That sends the message that they’re not important.

But somebody you never talk to?  Come on.  I don’t buy that.  We’ve all become a little too over sensitive to one another.  Don’t get me wrong… sensitivity has it’s place, people’s feelings should always be considered.. but really, if we didn’t make it an issue, or didn’t react when somebody decided they felt unimportant because you unfriended them, what would happen?  Nothing.  Life would continue.  That person would find other people to make them feel important and you would more meaningful connections because of it.

But then again, if it’s a childish attempt to take a stab at you and say “ha! I unfriended you before you could” followed by some snide remark in your status (we’re not longer talking about Chris’ post here), well… that’s just dumb and doesn’t deserve any attention anyway.

Who’s job is it to make me feel like a real person?  Is it yours?  I don’t think so.  That’s my job.  And if I’m not doing it well… then that just my tough luck, isn’t it?

  1. alpalmer says:

    I’ve never quite got the obsession with people de-friending, or posting that they’re going to defriend you if they don’t get a reply by X time.

    I cut back my FB friends to those I have met personally, or know through mutual friends. It was getting to be too much otherwise.

  2. Wendy Peters says:

    I hear ya. It doesn’t make sense to me either… and yet there’s a whole world of people out there still getting all worked up about it.

  3. Angela says:

    I just did another Twitter purge. I ditched people who made connections and with whom I never once engaged, I ditched people who seemed to be of interest and then turned out to be of no interest.

    Reading through their posts was turning into more work than I need to invest in Twitter.

    If their feelings are hurt by that, well, that’s just kinda weird.

  4. John Tyler says:

    I think people feel empowered with Twitter, that they finally have a voice, so they concentrate on building up followers. But like any communication stream: tv channels, radio stations, and internet sites, each user as the ability to select and filter their own information stream. The major broadcasters do promote their material to gain viewers or listeners, but they don’t take it personally if you change the channel!

    Twitter has allowed each individual to become a broadcaster and receiver at the same time, but their information is not going to be for everyone, and there is no point in following a business or person if you don’t have time to interact and participate. As you said Wendy, we only have so many hours each day!

  5. You know that horrible thing where we say “there are two kinds of people?” Well, here’s one of those:

    There are two kinds of people: those who see the computer/internet/buttons as being attached to human, feeling beings, and those who think it’s just online and that it doesn’t attach.

    That’s like saying the phone is just something to talk into and there’s no emotions there, either.

    It’s not just online. People do have feelings that they associate to these “at a distance” places.

    Yes, people overreact. We agree there. But to dismiss emotions simply because of the medium would be to dismiss letters, telephones, pictures, etc. Lots of things happen at a distance and yet convey consequences.

  6. Wendy Peters says:

    Chris – Human decency and respect for another’s feelings absolutely belong on this medium, as any other. Responding with unkind words or insults, “unfriending” with the intent to hurt… these are things to be aware of. But when all we have are words to read on a screen, or buttons to push, I don’t think it’s all that practical to go around wondering what impact every action we take will have on every single person. That’s like trying to go around pleasing every one all the time. You just can’t do it. It certainly pays to think about whether it’s going to impact somebody that we once shared some kind of exchange with, whether we’ve ever met them or not, that’s the human decency and respect part.

    The world is not so black and white, and there are more than just two kinds of people. You’ve found the two extremes, but the shades of grey in between them are numerous. Just as there are varying degrees of relationships online, not just those you have an exchange with and those you don’t, there are varying degrees of sensitivity to be had when thinking about who’s on the other end.

  7. Angela says:

    If Twitter died tomorrow morning – and Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, some days I wish it would – I would probably miss some of the connections I’ve made.

    But most of the connections that mean something to me are people whom I’ve met in real life – beyond an internet platform – and with whom I’ve build actual relationships.

    Most of the others are numbers on a screen, some being used as a convenient source of information – little that can’t be found on another platform elsewhere, whether it’s on the internet, on TV, in a newspaper or in a book.

    And if those numbers on a screen choose to sever their connection with me, well, I just don’t care.

    So now, to which group do I belong?

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