The Danger Of Walking Around With 'Live Mics'
January 20, 2015
There's nothing like the NFL Playoff season to serve as a reminder of social incivility. The lack of discipline among sports fans in the social space isn't anything new but the level of viciousness continues to shock me.
It's as if everyone has given themselves permission to operate emotionally, without filters, regardless of the impact from hate-filled words.
You may have read about Brandon Bostick, the Green Bay Packers tight end, who fumbled the onside kick in the NFC Championship game that paved the way for the Seattle Seahawks comeback win and trip to the Super Bowl.
While Packers fans were stunned and Seahawks fans couldn't be happier with the outcome -- Bostick was getting what you can only describe as incomprehensible tweets:
But this cybernated slop doesn't only come from the dark underbelly of Twitter; it comes from friends and colleagues, too.
As someone who was raised in Green Bay, WI that attends games every year, the Packers loss isn't what left me speechless. It was what I was about to see from people I know.
It's one thing to be happy about a competitor losing a chance to go to the Super Bowl. It's another when that excitement turns into an outpouring of hurtful words.
I'll spare you the screen shots but people were out on their minds.
There was a morning show on an AC station (of all formats) that shared an image of a Green Bay Packers stick figure hanging dead with a noose around its neck while a Bears fan cheered it on. And as horrible as joking about suicide is, that wasn't even the worst of it.
It was a reminder that wretched posts aren't exclusive for those we refer to as, "trolls." People we know, many in the public eye, are not immune to being out of control socially, too.
For some reason, the Internet is often viewed as an "unrestricted playground." Social platforms have become a gateway for an increased lack of civility. People say whatever they want; as if the subsequent apology to those hurt by ill words will excuse their poor choices.
But know this -- especially for radio talent:
Impressions of you are being formed every time you communicate socially. And it's implied that what we say socially reflects the values of our employers, whether that's true or fair.
We have every right to say what we want, but there is accountability for social incivility.
"My bad" is no longer sufficient.
People expect more from celebrity types -- including radio personalities -- and they should. Just because you're typing something and not saying it to someone's face does not make it less offensive.
The words and images we choose have the power to redefine our brands in an instant. And it doesn't matter if it was on a "public" or "private" social account. There's no such thing as privacy in this open and connected world.
The best advice is simple: Don't get caught up in the heat of the moment.
- We are walking around with "live mics" in our pockets 24/7.
Our filters need to be on at all times.
- It is not "social media's fault" when you do something inappropriate.
What you say are your words. It defies logic to blame the medium or distribution channel you use to deliver them. That's like blaming the microphone when you say something unacceptable on the air.
- Understand the implications of your words.
Feel your words from every person's point of view. If there's a hint of conflict in your tweets, posts, pictures or videos, reconsider hitting "send." Just because we can say everything we're thinking out loud, doesn't mean that we should.
Wit and wisdom may be two of the greatest qualities you can have socially, but discipline is more important than both.
By the way, there are people out there that maintain class during heated moments like sporting events. KLUC/Las Vegas Morning Star Chet Buchanan, an uber Seahawks fan, blew me away when I saw this tweet right after his team's incredible comeback:
A tweet of consideration goes a long way. It's the little things -- good or bad -- people will always remember you for.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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