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by Kenneth Rudich
Why do so many people find it hard to fend off the temptation for inserting unkind, mean-spirited and reckless content into their tweets, posts and comments? How can it be that many of these same folks would never conceive of arbitrarily throwing a punch at someone in public, but will launch without hesitation into an act of similarly fail behavior on a massively large public platform like social media?
And perhaps the biggest question of all: how could this happen among people who, by any sort of logic, should know better and do better; who’ll likely never gain and maybe even lose by doing it; who, despite having seen others incur stinging repercussions because of it, still defy what common sense would otherwise decree?
Consider these three recent instances, which vividly reflect the essence of our question in its most bewildering form:
1. The PR executive, whose whole job revolved around communicating with reporters, that surprisingly served up this now infamous tweet “heard round the world.”
2. The Washington State Representative who shot off this tweet immediately following the loss of the Seattle Seahawks to the Arizona Cardinals in a NFL football game.
3. The known Tea Party Leader in New Mexico who somehow found it fit to tweet this meme.
In all three cases, the posts were deleted asap but the digital footprint wasn’t. Like an old truism wisely holds, “You can’t unring a bell.” And therein lies the danger of crossing the line with social media.
As with many things in life there are no easy answers to explain this curious behavior. But there are reasoned possibilities, which, upon closer examination, may shed some light on this matter – and more importantly, provide some valuable insights for others to consider before making their next tweet, post or comment.
Coming Up in Parts 2, 3, & 4
One possibly informative theory of how and why this can happen derives from a notion made popular by Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of the New York Times best-selling self-help book, “Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ.” In Part 2 of this series, we’ll briefly examine the key characteristics of emotional intelligence (EI), the role that it plays, how it differs from a person’s intellect (IQ), and what it looks like when it’s at work.
In Part 3, we’ll discuss how emotional intelligence plays out in social media; why social media may well be a haven for those that are prone to fail with their tweets, posts and comments; and how to assess whether you or someone you know is at risk of falling for the temptation to fail.
In Part 4, we’ll explore how these social media fails can impact society, individuals, and employers (things like productivity, brand reputation, quality of worker output). Equally important, we’ll look at measures that can be taken within all three of these groups for trying to prevent social media fails; and, to the extent possible, for creating a buffer to lessen your vulnerability as a victim of collateral damage from a social media fail.