A Social Media Challenge to Wimps

I’m a wimp.

There.  Now you know.

Since I was kid I’ve happily walked away from blood and gore on the screen.  Horror movies?  You can keep them.  Disaster scenarios?  Don’t want them.  Nasty cops and robbers shows?  They are yours too.  The Sopranos?  Fuhgeddaboudit.

The problem is that with the openness of social media, I keep tripping across things that make me queasy:  rabid commentators from the fringes of  the political spectrum who froth at the mouth as they spew venom on their blogs and on Twitter, strident people who can’t rest easy until you sign up to their view of morality, etc.  In short, any number of people who challenge my cozy way of life  — and my own intellectual blind spots.

What’s a wimp to do? Do I owe it to myself to hear them?  Should I engage?  Or should I just walk away?

One of the great challenges of social media is that it makes it awfully easy to isolate yourself in an echo chamber in which you think you are interacting with hundreds of interesting people and don’t realize that they all are pretty much just like you.  Therefore, all you hear are many voices agreeing with you, giving the illusion that you’ve figured it all out.  But in so doing, you sell yourself short.  It is equally possible to seek out people of goodwill within various social networks who know how to take opposing positions and discuss them with respect and decency.  No matter where they sit on the political spectrum or in your professional niche,  they are the ones you need to know.  By engaging with them, your thinking evolves and you grow.

I don’t mean to underestimate the effort it takes to separate the shrill from those of substance, but it seems to me that a person of integrity needs to make that effort.  Even if that person is a wimp.

[Photo Credit:  Zagrev]

6 thoughts on “A Social Media Challenge to Wimps

  1. If you want to spark some debate in the KM area, perhaps discuss where to start re: a KM programme. The culture vs. systems & structure certainly was a hotbutton at my old firm. Personally I'm in the “you need somewhere to put it” camp, but there are many who think culture is the starting point. I like to think of good novels. If they're “too easy” they become boring and uninteresting (a bit like romantic comedies or sports movies). A bit of disagreement helps you to refine your ideas. Of course, if people are unhelpful, rude or unpleasant they deserve to be ignored.

    1. Neil – Dave Snowden recently wrote a thought-provoking piece on ritual dissent. It's a way of institutionalizing “a bit of disagreement” in order to refine ideas and eliminate the dross. I saw the piece in KMWorld Magazine and would recommend it to you.- Mary

  2. I am a big fan of Garr Reynolds and his approach to effective public presentations, through his book “Presentation Zen” <http://www.amazon.com/Presentation-Zen-Simple-D…> and his website with the same name <http://www.presentationzen.com/>.I noted this posting today entitled What PowerPoint Taught Me About Martial Arts <http://www.ikigaiway.com/2009/what-powerpoint-t…> that is about one of Garr's presentations. One of the quotes of Garr's that the author notes is “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, In the experts mind there are few.” Maybe one of our challenges is to try to approach our “discipline” with a beginner's mind.

    1. John -You're right — the beginner's mind is key. This is particularly the case when law firm KM staff find themselves speaking disdainfully of “the lawyers” and how they behave. Keeping that beginner's mind will stop our prejudices from blinding us and should allow us to see more of the possibilities before us. Thanks so much for pointing out these helpful resources.- Mary

  3. Neil – Dave Snowden recently wrote a thought-provoking piece on ritual dissent. It's a way of institutionalizing “a bit of disagreement” in order to refine ideas and eliminate the dross. I saw the piece in KMWorld Magazine and would recommend it to you.- Mary

  4. John -You're right — the beginner's mind is key. This is particularly the case when law firm KM staff find themselves speaking disdainfully of “the lawyers” and how they behave. Keeping that beginner's mind will stop our prejudices from blinding us and should allow us to see more of the possibilities before us. Thanks so much for pointing out these helpful resources.- Mary

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