Participating In Social Media Takes Courage

A few days ago, I had a post that also had a video where I ranted about MLM schemes. I can’t remember if I mentioned in the video that what prompted the rant was something that happened on LinkedIn or not, but that was the genesis for everything.

by Scott Feldstein via Flickr

One of the strangest things that came out of all of that mess, which continued until late yesterday afternoon when I finally decided my participation in the “conversation” had to end, is that the overwhelming majority of people who agreed with me wrote me privately rather than put their disgust out in the public like I did. As Sheriff Bart said in Blazing Saddles, “I’m quickly becoming an underground success in this town”. I got as many supporting messages in private as the guy who started the post got on the post itself; it did and didn’t help me, as you can imagine.

I’ve stated on this blog before that one of the gutsiest things a person can do online is court controversy, whether you started it or got yourself in the middle of it. Social media can be dangerous as much as it can be fun. This weekend another friend of mine posted something on his Facebook page that I kind of took exception to, so I commented on it. He said he had a right to express his beliefs, and I agreed with that while also saying if you have the guts to put out a belief like that in public you have to have the guts to take criticism for it from people who don’t agree with your position. I never heard back on that one.

How many reminders do people need before they realize that free speech really isn’t free? If people want to rant about things without giving others the opportunity to comment, set up a blog, don’t accept comments, and get on with your bad selves. 🙂

Unless you’re a big name once people realize they can’t leave comments they probably won’t come back, but you probably don’t care at that point. As Seth Godin seems to feel, sometimes getting your point out is more important to you than getting feedback. I find that sort of thing incredibly useless and selfish (I refuse to visit his blog or read links people share on Twitter), but to each his own.

Here’s my overall point. If you’re always afraid you’re going to create controversy, you’ll never be a good blogger. Controversy can pop up in the strangest places on the strangest topics. There is no safe topic, from babies to puppies to chocolate cake to the Muppets to weather. There’s always the possibility someone might not like what you said or how you said it. I once wrote a positive post where I mentioned my dad’s history and suddenly I was being attacked for talking about my dad being in the military. Didn’t see it coming, but I didn’t back down either, though eventually I had to block the guy because he became a major league troll; strange indeed.

Blogging isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re skittish your blog will be unreadable. Being flexible enough to see someone else’s point of view, even to the point where you sometimes might change your mind, doesn’t mean you don’t get to express yourself in your own way. Deciding not to change your mind and sticking up for your point of view, while trying to do it in a nice way, doesn’t mean you’re not flexible. Sometimes you have to adopt the position that my wife learned from Jack Canfieldone night: “What other people think of you is their problem.”

So, who’s ready to start blogging?

22 thoughts on “Participating In Social Media Takes Courage”

  1. Social media participation indeed takes a lot of courage. I loved your article.
    One should never be bothered about what others are thinking about them. Just keep blogging.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Hi Mitch,
    “Up in the sky, look: It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman!”
    Remember this dialogue. I hope none would forget this who ever have watched SUPERMAN movie.
    In social media I don’t think that there is too much courage required to participate but what required is visibility. One need to get as much interacted with other so as to get more involved.

    1. John, people might not think about it, but indeed it takes a lot of courage, especially when there’s the possibility that someone might not agree with you, as you did me (lol), and possibly starts flaming, trolling and using bad language, which never advances anyone’s position.

  3. Courage, may be not, Mitch, but for sure everybody need to be really careful to put statements on social networks. For sure there will be always people will agree and disagree, we see this everyday, some people even disagree when something is 100% fact.

    1. Carl, I still think it takes courage for some people to express how they really feel. Caution just means you figure out how to say it to minimize the damage. It either takes courage or chutzpah, and maybe I have more of the second. 🙂

      1. I must admit that quite often, I think to write or share something , but very often I don’t hit submit button when I think deeper, so probably you are right. This happen most of the time on personal stuff and feelings, rarely on business posts for customers.

      2. It’s a tough call sometimes Carl. I know that my language in general is different here than on my business blog, but as you’ve seen I still tell it like I believe it is, which might put some people off but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.

  4. It really doesn’t matter to me what people say or not about what I’ve said, what matters to me is for the word to reach out to the right people intended for it.

    I really appreciate your post @Mitch

    1. Thanks Olawale. I think there has to be a mix of being able to respect your audience while being able to say what you believe needs to be said. There are some people whose blogs are always complaining about something or being mean to people and that’s not what I set out to do. My thought is that the majority of people don’t want that much negativity in their lives. But sometimes the truth has to be said, and that’s when I think, at least for some people, that it takes courage to be able to do it knowing that there might be some people who won’t like it.

  5. For most the courage kicks in when someone say something well meant but get the hounds come after them so don’t see it coming.

    I saw an example last week when someone tried to make a comparison with British soldiers dying in Afghan and Whitney Houston, I kind of knew what he meant but boy did the Twitter community go after him – if that had been me I think I would have deleted my twitter account.

    There was another example of a black english soccer player getting hounded on twitter because of his skin color

    It shows that Social Media really is a double edge sword – at the end of the day people can be very unpleasant, social just gives them the means to magnify it.

    1. Yes Pete, I do have the spam filters set to hold comments with links in them to try to protect against at least some spam.

      Social media is a double-edged sword, and the only real difference between it and realize is that so many more people can see when someone is either fantastic or stupid. And once the message is out there, if they came across wrong it can take a lot of work to try to fix it. Celine Dion took a publicity hit this week when she tried to make a point that was quite legitimate on how drugs can be so powerful that even the love of their children isn’t strong enough to get them to stop. A lot of people thought she was being insensitive, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. And that’s why I say that for some people it really does take courage to participate in social media. Thanks for your comment, I enjoyed it even if the link goes to something that shows there’s something horribly wrong with a lot of people in this world as it pertains to race.

  6. Hi Mitch,
    first of all i must say that i adore the picture of the Superman boy. Yes, we all need to feel as a Superman and to have courage to express our thoughts publicly. this happens very often to me as well, usually when it comes to Facebook. So many times i posted something on my “wall” and instead of public comments i received only private messages with comments. LOL!

    1. It’s a strange thing isn’t it Eleonore? I know there are times when you really don’t want to put something out in public because you might have information that you don’t want everyone else to know. So I don’t pick on anybody who would rather remain anonymous, but that’s why I say it sometimes takes courage to express an alternative position on something.

  7. Blogging definitely isn’t for the feint at heart. And though I don’t start with an intention of creating controversy, it still makes its way to my doorstep.

    One thing is for sure about it, at least you know you have reached someone so strongly that they were moved to react and that in and of itself is proof of the power of your words!

    Good to see you still blogging, Mitch 🙂

    1. Thanks Caleb; been a long time and glad to see you’re still out there as well. Just so you know I tried to go to your site and this ad popped up before it completed loading:

      That’s an interesting point about when you can get people to decide to react to something; I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but it is a powerful statement and a great way of looking at things.

  8. Great post, Mitch!

    You’re very right, you can’t be afraid of offending someone with what you have to say. That’s not to mean that you intentionally try to do that, but we are all allowed to have our opinion.

    An important part of leadership is having the ability to take the unpopular stand because you feel it’s the right one. It’s very hard to stand against the majority, especially when it brings harsh consequences, but it is often what we are called to do.

    Thanks for the informing post. I hope you have a great weekend!


    1. Thanks Barry. I don’t go roughshod often, but when I do, you can believe it’s something I’m passionate about. I also don’t tread into waters where I know the sharks aren’t going away, which keeps me out of political and religious discussions. Otherwise, you just never know about me. 🙂

    2. By the way Barry, you’ll have to let me know if my comment ever shows up on your latest post. I tried twice and both times it told me to do it again because of the captcha, then it said I had a duplicate comment. I’m bad at captcha, which is why I often run away from it, but I wanted to try.

      1. Your comment went through, but only one of them, which is a good thing!

        Sorry about the captcha. You’re not the first person to complain about it. I have a paid theme and it was programmed in without a means of turning it off. I’ve already been in contact with the developer and he’s supposed to be adding that feature to the next update. It’s been a bit, so it looks like I’ll have to contact him again.

        My blog is fairly new and I certainly don’t want to lose out on people leaving comments due to the captcha giving them a problem.

        Thanks for stopping by and making the effort. It’s very much appreciated. Hopefully it doesn’t deter you from stopping back by again soon!

        Have a great weekend.


  9. There was a time, not that long ago, when writers could insulate themselves from critical readers. Obviously, those days are gone, at least when it comes to blogging. Disagreements, heated arguments, and even unwarranted attacks seem inevitable, especially when you put your opinions out there for the world to see. Still, the potential for so much feedback is a valuable thing. We just have to be prepared for the fact that not everyone is going to like us, or agree with us.

    Great post, Mitch.

    1. Thanks Charles. I think you’ve benefited greatly from the amount of positive feedback on your blog and I’m really glad that you started writing it & sharing it, even if I don’t comment as often as I should, which is mainly because I don’t get notifications of whether you’ve commented back to me or not and thus I forget sometimes. I hope that sales of your most recent book were buoyed because of your blog.

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