Unfriending the Wrong Friends, Social Bubbles and Aristotle

Unfriending the Wrong Friends, Social Bubbles and Aristotle

As far as heated debates go, 2016 was a hotbed. There was something for everyone: Brexit, the American election, civil war in Syria, terrorist attacks, immigration, refugees, the economy, global warming. The list of topics we all disagreed on was as endless as it was depressing.

Although these topics would have put the old adage of no politics, religion and money (or is it sex?) discussions at the dinner table to the test, nowhere did the arguments fester more gangrenous-ly than on social media. The deluge of posts regarding each topic on platforms like Facebook pitted friends against each other, often leading to the kind of personal, cynical, sarcastic attacks far beyond anything we would dare to say in person.

After several intense exchanges about refugees and migration on Facebook, I decided enough was enough. My blood pressure was hitting dizzying heights dealing with what I saw as small-minded, xenophobic, racist slurs from the people in my network. My friends. I concluded the easiest solution to avoid permanent fall outs was to remove myself from the conversations by unfriending (or muting from my feed) anyone with significantly opposing points of view.

The Creation of the Social Bubble
The result was delightful and immediate. No more polemic posts to get worked up about. Blood pressure back to normal. I had rediscovered my inner peace. However, the consequence of my actions was I had now surrounded myself with beliefs and attitudes that aligned to mine, increasingly unaware of the strength and subsequent impact of the opinions of the others, particularly on the outcome of Brexit and the American election. I had created a Social Bubble.

The danger of living in a social bubble is that you become unaware of how others think. The result is not just ignorance but also the arrested development and lack of diversity of your thoughts.

This is just as true in work-life. The opinions of those who disagree with you or advocate different processes are important to question your own approach. Limiting yourself to influencers who think similarly to you stifles your ability to innovate. Basing your strategy on a single school of thought, however well respected, limits your options. In the end, we all end up believing and doing the same, whether it is right or wrong.

For what it’s worth, I have decided to un-mute those who with opposing points of view. I want to know how the other side thinks, not to agree (or argue) with them but to question my own thoughts and ideals.

Aristotle once said “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Do as we say, dont do as we do?

Should it be a surprise to anyone that, as MD of a digital communication agency, I didnt have a blog until now? That this is indeed my first blog post ever? Does it make me less of a professional in the digital field? Less credible?

I hope not as I have just made it public knowledge.

Truth be told, in my 12 years in digital I have often recommended that my clients start blogs, be it for marketing or communication purposes. It was and still is sound advice. Take one of my multi-national clients whose CEO now runs an internal blog which is followed by more than 50% of his 10,000+ staff. Willingly, I might add.

Or a utilities client which now uses a blog to give tips on how to save on bills, which is one of their most popular communication pieces, with 1000s of visits every day.

So why did I not heed my own advise? Why have I not ventured into the blogger-sphere before? The answer is simple…

I allowed myself to think that my activities on social media platforms (Twitter: @mikeboogaard and LinkedIn) made blogging superfluous. Wrong!

The key to successful digital communication is to ensure that you use the right platforms for the right message/objective, and it is certainly not a case of ‘either-or’. Neither should you do everything just to cover all the bases. Work out what the message is and which platform is best suited to communicating that message.

Whereas I use my Twitter account to communicate my agency’s wins and my LinkedIn to draw attention to interesting articles and events (and recruitment), I intend to use this blog to communicate about my experiences working in digital media, be it lessons learned, interesting stories and anecdotes, or my own observations and knowledge pieces.

If you are interested in digital media and sharing your experiences, following this blog might be just for you!

Welcome to the blogger-sphere!

[next: Intranets are not just for Christmas]