During one of my workshops, I’d asked one of the participants to write a blog on the classroom practice of teaching of a particular topic. The next day, the participants were to respond to it (The workshop session was ‘Blogs- an educational resource’). Through such guided interaction, I also make them take cognizance of social media etiquette.
So, this participant had written the blog, explaining the activities, the classroom practice, supplemented with suitable photographs. Quite a good effort as a first. The blog was shared on the participant’s social media wall/handle, projected on the screen, and we waited for people to respond and comment. Many of the participants were active bloggers and most were active on social media. I was observing. Accessing through social media, most of them merely liked, some wrote congratulatory comments. As expected. I was still waiting for it to happen. And suddenly there it was! A comment that I was kind of waiting for.
‘Instead of using this method, it could have used XYZ method….’ it went on. This was it! Giving ‘gyaan’. The way of expression said it all.
Now, I just went on to write a comment that would rephrase what the person was asking. ‘Have you tried XYZ method for teaching the same topic?’ I also wrote a few extra lines in the next comment ‘Did you face any difficulties while implementing this method? Which method is better in implementation as per your experience?’
‘Are we both saying the same thing?’
‘And yet, is it different?’
And then obviously, we discussed how the slight difference in the tone can make the response look so different. The first one being didactic, preachy, while the other providing a channel of communication. Genuine communication. That is what is really observed by others. In a bid to show your great ‘gyaan’ what image of you are you projecting? That of a know-all? Well, that is not quite a pretty image to project. As a professional, you have to initiate and nurture communication, not snub someone.
Time to think before you comment. The first one would put the person on the defensive. There will be walls built around- not only around the person who is the target and the one who commented, but also the rest of the audience, who suddenly become cautious. Cautious of their comments. Observant of the happenings, building perceptions, construct images of people commenting,
Remember, this is not a private communication between two people but is observed by many. And people are viewing much more than the words that you type out. It is your personality that is manifested through these words. As a professional, you want conversation on a topic to happen, not islands existing around you. So, before clicking the ‘post’ button, just THINK. Would this build bridges or walls? Edit your posts. Word them to enhance communication. That is what social media is for!
Another thing to remember about the comments. If a person who was discussing (or arguing), suddenly clicks the ‘like’ button, don’t be happy that you have convinced him/her. Neither be judgmental and label the person as ‘on-the-fence’ or ‘a person with shifting views’. It is just that the person DOES NOT wish to continue the communication. It is the most polite and respectful way in which this message is conveyed. Respect that. It is rude to just leave a conversation mid-way, without a closure. Gauge the person’s responses not the person. It is equivalent to a person stomping out of the room. Also, when you say, ‘I have said all that I wanted.’ or ‘Resting this now.’ is a closure but a less polite one. It is equivalent to going on a defensive and saying ‘I do not agree to your views and do not wish to talk further.’ That’s a wall, there. Maybe of a lesser height or maybe that of glass or acrylic- like material. You can see the person, but there is a distance. You won’t reach the person. Be aware of such walls. Surely you don’t want to be the modern ‘selfish giant’.
‘This loses the spontaneity!’ ‘Then our posts will become like official letters.’
‘No, it will come with practice.’
‘Isn’t social media supposed to be informal communication?’
‘Does it mean informal communication should be without etiquettes?’
And on it went.
‘There is a difference between professional informal communication and non-professional communication. And one should be aware and careful to not miss seeing the boundaries.’ I concluded.
Social media is a tricky business. The words here have a lot unspoken, unwritten- behind them, between them. The cipher is to get that. As a reader, as a writer.
Social media gives you immense power. The power to voice your thoughts.
And with great power comes great responsibility.