Social networks have made it possible for us to voice our constant thoughts to a global audience. For many, ensuring that our unfiltered, unedited comments reach everyone is a great alternative to sound bytes filtered through others. But is this unfiltered access making us bite our tongues more? Is social making us all wussies?
A comment made to a friend at a bar may reach a few outside of that circle, but not social. Almost every day, a celebrity is being questioned about a tweet. Gilbert Gottfried became Gilbert Got-fired after his tweet about Japan’s Tsunami woes was judged to be in poor taste. This joke might have been previously told to a small crowd at a comedy club while he was working out material, not the global main stage. Our tweets, message board comments and facebook status updates are digitally archived and incredibly easy to pass along.
One main tenant of social participation is authenticity. That’s why we all love it: we get to hear comments from the horse’s mouth. Unfortunately, this authenticity makes it impossible to speak anonymously. We can’t lend our credibility to a comment and also not be held accountable for everybody hearing it, especially the person or company we most want to comment about.
I’ll admit, there are times I bite my tongue when I’m upset at a company out of a sense of professionalism. But the only way brands will be get better is if they are held accountable. While comments like “brand X – You suck!” don’t help and reflect badly on the sender, comments like “airline X-next time you know you are going to strand us in Austin, a little heads up might help, u have my email” accomplish so much more. And next time, I might not mind spending a little more time in an Austin bar before departing!