Social Media Members Behaving Badly

mean girlNOTE: This will be an unusual post (also somewhat lengthy) and it’s very likely I’ll tick off a few people. That’s okay, some people live in a ticked off state anyway and I think some people actually enjoy finding ways to feel bitter. I do hope however, that most readers of this article will take away from it, what I intended to convey. Thanks – JML .

Here’s what I wish to say: For a long time, I was reluctant to re-enter the world of social media. I used to be a moderator for health forums; 2 in the US and one in the UK (some for as long as 4 years – 6 years total). One of the forums, was connected to one of the highest traffic content websites existing online. The over 200 articles I had there at one time, were getting as many as 30,000 visitors a week The multi-topic site itself was getting as much as 11-million visitors per month when I was there and now years later they may be getting more monthly visitors, or traffic may have changed very little. I have since removed all of my articles off the site. I have a book/eBook/audiobook on the subject but I don’t give specific names of websites I departed ways with, within it. I experienced things at the particular high traffic website I describe above, that told me it was time to leave (after more than 2 years as an editor there) and to take my content with me. I then converted my articles into books after removing them from the site because I saw an obvious bias going on there – sorry I have to be careful in saying what that bias was specifically.
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I don’t believe my suspicions were unwarranted and other editors left their positions at the site for very similar reasons as mine. I know this because I was in e-mail correspondence with them for a while after I left my editorship and the associated forum moderator position. On another high traffic forum, I also saw hurtful things happen to people, perpetrated by cliques of members that formed, that consisted of ‘2 people or more’. They gave subtle signs that they were in opposition to certain other members at first but as time went by, their dislike of certain people became far more evident. One UK lady complained about a clique of members who were “slighting her” but she was the one who was kicked off of the forum for complaining about the issue! We also have to recognize the very obvious fact that there are mean-spirited and simply vile people online, who use forums to vent their hatred and disappointments in life. We all have issues of serious hurt in life but most of us don’t use forums, message boards or comment sections under articles to attack others, to make ourselves feel better. For some vile forum members, it isn’t actually a hurt in life – a disappointment that makes them attack others online but it is simply a fun game for them, that they can play behind an icon and username (in other words “in disguise”).
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I was the one moderator who was opposed to the lady previously-mentioned being dropped as a member at the aforementioned forum. However, a fellow forum moderator who was a part of the clique of snob-ridden members caused her to be canceled from the site. What did the divisions I witnessed between people consist of when I was a moderator? In some cases members became opposed to people who were befriending members who they thought were ‘low class’ in their minds and not up to standard for them. {Look up “Snobbery” in the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary.} While I don’t want to get into specific details, I witnessed a great deal of mud-slinging as well, during my years as a moderator. Being sloughed-off is bad enough but being attacked can be seriously offending and hurtful. However, it happens on many social media and forum sites every day. Certainly there are people who really don’t deserve support from other members and these are those who post purposefully-offensive things or who attack other members. In some cases, people who are slighted, are simply not good enough for those who are slighting them (in the opinion of their hateful minds). I personally will befriend any sincere person online, regardless of their social or economic background and I will support them and if possible, make them feel liked and welcomed — within proper balance.
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I hope to convey and express to them the “agape” type love that Jesus Christ showed toward others during his earthly ministry, regardless of their background, if they were receptive to him. By no means do I try to make any social media I involve myself in, exclusively Christian (unless it is a Christianity forum) and I WILL NOT force my faith on anyone. Just like with this article – if you don’t like what you see in my subject-line or in the starts of paragraphs, then simply don’t read them. However, I welcome anyone to read this article who recognizes the degradation of members that many social media sites allow and simply do not properly moderate! I mostly posted about everyday interest type things when I was involved with social media. My wife and I would post about fishing, family etc… And, I also enjoyed making people smile or laugh via my posts, every chance I could get. As a Christian, I will not judge people over past things I remember them doing 30 or close to 40 years ago. People change immensely, even in much shorter amounts of time. I give people the credit for having become responsible, trustworthy, mature adults, unless they clearly show otherwise (some do not reciprocate this same sentiment toward me). If I don’t expect to see good in a new connection or a reconnection (as justice sees ‘innocent unless proven guilty’), I’m exercising wrongful, instead of proper judgment. The same goes for them.
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In other words, I need to give them a chance (e.g. connecting with an old friend on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc…). Sometimes this presents the opportunity to make amends for past differences but sometimes it can rekindle them or make them worse. Social media can literally be risky business, including having total strangers decide to attack you for no apparent reason. I’m by no means running from social media but rather I simply don’t have the time for it in my case. The fairly large number of published retail items takes more time to oversee than many people realize. It in fact becomes a bit overwhelming at times. If I’m corresponding with lots of people online and trying to resolve attack issues that arise, this leaves me less time to write and to promote my published works. Yes, social media itself can be a promotion opportunity but it is time-consuming and very hard work for very slow gains (the gains that excite me most are blessings people may get from my Christian teachings). Authors with publishing promotion firms and who have their books published by these reputable companies can see social media increase their sales a great deal, especially those books that go viral (e.g. romance and other genre novels). “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (Jesus – John 7:24).
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If I’m ‘holding a grudge’ against something someone did when I was a kid (we later reconnect on a site like Facebook) and we are now past middle-aged or maybe near senior age, that’s not only wrong to do, its flat-out weird! Since I have pointed this out, let me just say; “Forgive me if I did anything offensive to anyone out there, regardless of how many years ago it may have occurred or even how recently it may have occurred. I ask that sincerely in Jesus’ Name.” I honestly wasn’t attempting to post a sermon. I’m just asking that we all be careful about judgments we make about other people online. I simply offer this as something we should all think about.

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