Think before you post. Good advice, but it doesn’t always happen. While clearing the snow after this week’s storm, I found my mind drifting to two recent irritating stories.
One involved Jon Reyes, a member of the Manitoba legislature and Minister of Economic Development and Jobs. On Jan. 8, he tweeted a photo, taken from the warmth of his home, of his wife shoveling. This was his tweet:
“Even after a 12 hour night shift at the hospital last night, my wife still has the energy to shovel the driveway. God bless her and all our frontliners. Time to make her some breakfast.”
What a prince. The tweet went viral, Reyes was mocked, and the story got picked by everyone from the CBC to the Washington Post to The View. Now, maybe Reyes’ wife really was in the mood to dig out. But a public official glorifying the fact that a tired health care professional had yet another chore waiting for her – and during a pandemic – was not a good look.
Then there was the curious case of the Ottawa woman who drove her car, apparently deliberately and at high speed, on the frozen Rideau River on Jan. 16. Her car crashed through the ice and began to sink. She made her way to the roof of the car, and local residents used a kayak to tow her to safety.
But the accident didn’t get coverage because of that drama. No, it was because the driver was pictured atop her partially submerged car, while awaiting rescuers, smiling and taking a selfie. She was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. The story made CNN.
Is there something about bad winter weather that impairs judgment?
What we say in our social media worlds communicates something about us, and sometimes so does the mere act of posting a selfie or a tweet.
A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality looked at how Instagram users who habitually post selfies are perceived. For the study, a group of students shared their last few dozen posts. Another group of students then rated the various Instagram profiles using personality characteristics. Compared to those who posted shots taken by others, the selfie Instagrammers were judged as being more self-absorbed, less likable and more insecure.
As for posting our latest brainwaves, what gets hold of us? Maybe we forget that people are actually paying attention, but various studies have pointed to the opposite too: that we crave the attention, no matter the appearance.
Sure, much of what people do on social media is innocent. But you can find yourself in the spotlight and shamed in a blink, with no one to blame but yourself.
So sometimes, maybe resist certain selfies and posts, even in this look-at-me-my-every-action-and-thought-is-worth-sharing age. Because when it comes to how you’re viewed, you might be on thin ice.
Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based freelance writer, who helps clients’ products, services, ideas and organizations to come alive. Follow me on Twitter @StuartFoxman, connect with me here on LinkedIn, or check me out at foxmancommunications.com. I would love to hear from you. More original posts coming regularly about communications, information, motivation, writing, branding, creativity, media, marketing, persuasion, messages, learning, etc.
January 19, 2022