Think Social Media Is Free? Think Again!

Venting? Have some feedback you MUST share? If you take it too far, be sure it's worth the cost...

Someone once told me that I was the most politically correct person they knew. The context wasn't that it was a good thing, but rather a criticism of who I am as a person. I must admit that the comment stung a little because I think a lot of politically incorrect things all the time, lol...but there's usually a reason that I can't or don't say them out loud!

I've been self-employed for almost 20yrs, first with my home daycare business and now in real estate. And there are lessons you learn along the way when YOU are the product you're selling:

With daycare I learned very quickly that people scrutinized & judged every aspect of my life from my appearance, to how my children behaved, to my home, even the types of vehicles that my husband & I drove...and THEN they looked at the types of services that I offered.

With real estate, you might say that the product I'm selling is houses, and that's partly true. But I'm selling MYSELF to potential clients as the right choice to help them buy & sell those houses. So, many of the factors that I was scrutinized over in daycare, carry over into this industry as well.

Perception IS reality. And there are rarely second chances when you work or volunteer in a service industry, particularly in a trust or authority position...having a bad day or making a bad decision or saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, or in the wrong place, can cost you money & much worse, affect your reputation.

People's perception of me & what I have to offer affects whether I can earn a living or not. And that can be a little scary! Certainly scary enough to have me watching my P's & Q's (most of the time), that's for sure! And yes, choosing political correctness as well.

So you may be asking yourself what is the point of this post? The Canadian Real Estate Association released an article yesterday about a legal ruling in BC regarding being held liable for not only your own Social Media Posts but those of your "friends" who may subsequently comment on those posts. Read the CREA article HERE and the details about the incident it relates to HERE. I think this story would be a good addition to the ugly portion of last week's post about Neighbours - The Good, Bad & The Ugly!

The article brought to mind 2 examples I've seen online in the recent past.

The first were comments made in a private Facebook group. They were needlessly confrontational & some were needlessly rude as well, and the author of those comments eventually deleted them...maybe they were told to by the group admin, or maybe they realized themselves that they were ill-advised...who knows. But everyone in that group read those comments before they were deleted, and deleting them didn't change that. The end result? There are now fewer members in that group. Not a dire consequence by any means, but there are also some who think less of the author now as a result of their comments & so it does affect their reputation to a certain extent.

And the 2nd one was on a Facebook page, a much more public venue. And that's where I learned first hand, the consequences of making an unpopular decision in this age of instant feedback through social media. I learned that sitting at a keyboard, or behind a screen, causes many people to lose their filter, if not their minds, lol. That it's far too easy for a mob mentality to take over & that no amount of reasoned explanation will slow down the eventual spin out of control. Those that disagree with the "mob" will not jump in to offer a different point of view, for fear that the "mob" will turn on them as well. They will, however, provide support behind the scenes & report back on information that is circulating privately in addition to what's online. As helpful & appreciated as it is, that leaves only 1 point of view in the public domain. When there is no opposing view it becomes accepted that this is everyone's point of view.

Eventually, we had to start deleting personal attacks & blocking people from posting to the page. And that caused another backlash over censorship & calls that we were handling the situation poorly...but you have to draw the line somewhere, & in this case that line was when there was no more constructive discussion AND we were getting into slanderous territory.

When people don't get what they want, they get angry...and angry people lash out. The difference is that nowadays they have a bigger audience to whom they can voice their displeasure to. Up until now there weren't any meaningful consequences, but the court ruling in BC should be a wake-up call to everyone. What you put on the internet lives forever. I still have a copy of every post that was made on that thread & who made it, thanks to my notification settings, they were all emailed to me.

That experience was a painful reminder of what I already knew & made me even more acutely aware of how I need to be ever-vigilant in the future. Not because I (or we) did something wrong in that 2nd example, because we didn't, but to be better aware of what the perception may be of my words, decisions & actions. Or the words, decisions & actions that I may be linked to. Unfortunately that incident DID cost me not only business relationships but personal relationships as well.

Do I need to be politically correct to a certain degree? You betcha! Am I always? Nope! Am I careful what I say on social media? Always! AND who I have on my friends list? Now I Am! I think you have to put yourself out there in the first place to understand what the consequences are when you're not. And sometimes you may feel that those consequences are OK, and sometimes, whether you want to or not, you have to make a different choice.

Have a fabulous day!

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