Part one of this two-parter is sub-titled “Pitchforks and Torches”. The idea for this bilogy(?) came from a friend of mine in a discussion about the current trend in social media towards two different approaches to social action: Pitchforks and Torches, and Thoughts and Prayers, which we will tackle next time.
Below is a video from Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail demonstrating what appears to be the best possible explanation for the thought processes on how we got to where we are today.
Like the peasants in the movie, we are all taken in by the appearances of things from time to time. If we weren’t we would see more people in positions of influence who have substance. The fact is that all of us are distracted by shiny things. We will see a headline and decide the content of the story based on the headline alone. An accusation is announced in a sensational headline and we react without reading the story. We then form an opinion based on the posts of others, because, you know, they wouldn’t post unless it was true, right? We want to be seen to fit in with society and so we condemn what has happened without any due legal process, any rebuttal, or anything beyond an accusation in many cases. Guilt by social mehdia is all too common, and it tells of a greater sickness within society.
A week or so ago I posted an article Do You Want To Make A Difference?, and the reality is that many of us do. We just don’t know where to start so we will like a post on social mehdia, or maybe even share an outraged post. We’ll join in and comment in agreement that “X person needs to go to prison”. Maybe they do – but social mehdia isn’t the place to decide it, we have courts of law for that. Social mehdia makes that process even harder because a defendant has the right to a fair trial – how can that happen in a world where people are guilty before they even get charged with anything?
Here are the three take aways for today:
1 – If you want to make a difference (which you do), think about one thing you can do beyond a social mehdia “like” to affect the cause. Write to your representatives, visit someone affected, let someone know personally that you care. A “like” is not action.
2 – Stop and process. Don’t just look at the headline and assume the content matches the story. Equally, don’t assume the story matches the facts. If headlines, stories and facts were in alignment you’d hear the same thing from Fox, MSNBC and CNN, but you don’t.
3 – Social mehdia can be a great tool, but think about what you can add to the discussion. How can you present new, or deeper insight into the discussion beyond simply liking or adding to the noise?
In a world of pitchfork and torch carriers, dare to be the person who questions. Be the voice of reason. Like Sir Bedevere in the Monty Python sketch, you may find the mob are right, but what if they are wrong and you are one of them?
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Picture credit: Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail – link to official site posted in text.
Categories: Social Psychology