Is it just me, or are people more sensitive on the internet these days? Seems like I can’t read a well-meaning Facebook post, tweet, or casual Instagram post anymore without at least one person taking offense or feeling the need to counter-argue what was said, no matter how benign.
Sometimes offense, contradicting, and calling out error is important and worth it. But I fear we’ve blurred the lines on when it’s necessary.
Social media has made people more reactive. They speak their mind rapid-fire and walk away without feeling the consequence on the other side. They say things on a screen they’d never in a million years say on a screened-in porch, drinks in hand and chatting with a real-live human.
As a reader, it’s enough to wipe me out. As a citizen, it’s enough to cause me to sigh about our course of civilization. As a content-creator, it’s enough to make me pause before I hit publish on anything. Is saying this worth the potential negativity? It’s exhausting, creativity-draining.
Which is why I do this one simple thing to counteract all the online hate—and, well, at least make me feel better:
I leave good reviews. Anytime I can.
“Social proof” is the psychological concept whereby something gains traction because it seems like it’s already gotten traction. We deal with it all the time offline—when the drive-through line for that coffee barn snakes down the street, we assume it must be good coffee. If six people on separate occasions tell us we have to go see that movie, we’ll finally go see it.
Online, it’s even more tangible. We’ll read a post that has hundreds of comments because clearly it’s already gotten attention. Between two books on the same topic, we’ll most likely assume the one with more positive reviews is more reputable. If your close friend, your Uncle Al, and the president of your kid’s PTA all share the same Facebook post, we’ll stop to read or watch it.
Like it or not, social proof matters. And we can take part by spreading the love.
• If your favorite local diner continually blows it out of the water with great service and fantastic food, leave them a quick five-star review on Yelp.
• If someone’s Instagram feed continually brings you joy, tell them so in a comment.
• If you love a podcast but have never said so, take two minutes and leave a good review on iTunes.
• If you’ve never left a positive review for your favorite books on Amazon, make a quick effort to do so (this author shamelessly thanks you).
• If your coffee joint made you another great drink, toss an extra dollar in the tip jar.
Give these things you love some social proof that’ll fuel their work and their art.
And if something bothers you—a Facebook post, a blog post, a YouTube video, a tweet—and calling it out won’t change the course of our civilization or change the creator’s mind, then please walk by. Ignore. Move on with your life.
Here’s the thing about this, too: it’s good for you. Negativity breeds negativity; you can feel it in your bones. Pausing to share why you love something? It’ll make your day.
The internet can be a beautiful place, and I hate to see it turn sour. Please stop spreading negativity just for the heck of it, and even better—take a few minutes out of your day to spread some love. It’ll make that author/entrepreneur/artist/blogger/musician/small business owner’s day. I promise.
It’ll make our virtual neighborhood an overall better place. One kind word at a time.
p.s. Customer service shalom will make someone’s day.