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The Big Social Media Lie: If You Disagree, You Don't "Get It"

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The Big Social Media Lie: Disagreement = "Don't Get It"

It's startling that the people who are most adamant about the power of social media to provide people with voices for change seem to often be the very same people who are completely intolerant regarding any disagreements with their beliefs. Whether its talking about how social media will "empower" customers so they can rise p, or whether its people making all kinds of claims about how social media will foster democracy, the standard refrain when faced with disagreement, particularly reasoned disagreement is: "You/They don't get it". Often they don't realize that such a comment is much more a comment on themselves than on the person who doesn't consent to blindly agree with them.

This is certainly not an isolated happening. Take a gander at the #custserv chat on Twitter, as an example, where people ostensibly gather to discuss customer service issues, and you will find two obvious things. Blaming people who aren't present, and claiming those that disagree don't get it. Often they suggest that it's CEO's of major companies who are to blame and don't get it, but sometimes the brush gets wider, and corporate marketers, managers, etc get well painted as stupid sticks in the mud who don't understand social media OR customer service.

It's rather astounding to see and hear self-proclaimed experts (ok, pissants) who have accomplished virtually nothing in their own careers, suggest that senior executives don't get it. The intolerance is scary.

Here's an example -- a post on socialmediatoday (which has some thought provoking material) plus comments. The general drift was expressing frustration that businesses "don't get" that social media is social, and "misunderstand". I don't know if that's true or not, but I do know that labelling people who disagree with you is a) offensive and arrogant and b) a poor way to teach them alternative ways of thinking. So, here's the response I wrote:

Sadly, Katie, I find the arrogance of social media pundits overwhelming and depressing on several levels. First by labelling others as not getting it, or in your case, "misunderstanding", you insult those of us who have different opinions about social media, albeit unintentionally. Many of us "get it", and many of us "understand" just fine, thank you, BUT we disagree with you.

Why is it that "social media" participants are so intolerant of other opinions?

The second reason I find this depressing is that  when you label others, you marginalize YOURSELF as a force for change and teaching, and you create exactly that which you criticize.

If you want a reason why some people try to use social media in ways that you dislike (as do I), it's partly because of people -- social media pundits, media starts and marketers, who have bombarded them with "you have to do this to survive", which is just nonsense.Faced with this ongoing pressure, they jump in with what makes sense to them, and you don't much like it.

I've found social media commentators are by far the worst listeners and the least interested in WHY people aren't doing what they want them to. Again, I implore people--stop labelling people as not getting it or misunderstanding, and go out and talk to those people and truly listen because YOU want to understand.

Until then you are just fanatics contributing to the misuse of social media whatever that means.

The author responds, apparently completely missing the point that saying someone doesn't "understand" or doesn't "get it" is, in fact, an attack and a way of minimizing and degrading anyone who does disagree.

It's sad. This is so common among social media fanatics that it's almost impossible to find any place where one can find informed, curious people who truly want to LEARN about social media, rather than jam their opinions down the throats of others. Worse, the fanaticism has affected how main stream media covers social media issues.

Well, to all of you. I "get" social media. I simply look at it differently, and believe it or not, I read research, look at data (my own and that of others) and make an effort to find evidence on both sides of issues. And what I get, from much of this, is that the reason you want to demean those that have opinions differing from yours is simple. You have no data, and no reasonable evidence beyond misinterpreted survey data and isolated case studies, to support you beliefs. You believe in the Church of Social Media, and it's just plain old faith you have to peddle.

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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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