(If you're not a big (American) football fan, just bear with me for the sake of this article!)
Over the weekend, four teams played for the chance to head to the Super Bowl, and one of those victorious was my home team, the Seattle Seahawks. Our most outspoken player, Richard Sherman, had an intense post-game interview directly after the game-winning play he made. That interview ignited a social media firestorm that's spawned countless articles and think pieces breaking down the interview, the public's reaction and Sherman himself. I won't go in much more detail, because there's a lot of that already out there. What's been most interesting to me in all of this is observing how people use (and sometimes abuse) social media. Hopefully some of these observations are valuable tips for you:
Think before you tweet
I wrote a whole other IFB article on this last year, but it's definitely worth repeating. Sounds like a totally obvious statement, but social media's easy accessibility opens the door to quick – and often rash – posts. So many were quick to label and judge Richard Sherman negatively because of one interview. Is there more to the story than what you're initially seeing? More often than not, there is. Think about your post before you press ‘send' – and if it's something you're second-guessing or have doubts about, it might be best not to post at all.
Restraint is key
Have you ever read someone else's Facebook update and just wanted to leave a long comment proving them wrong? That happens to me at least a dozen times every day. Sherman's fans and detractors alike have been defending their positions left and right, with tons of comment flame wars to boot. Do you really want to spend time arguing on the internet? Sometimes it's best just to observe and move on to something else you should be doing.
Words have vibrations
As a blogger and someone who works in the social media industry, I am always aware of how my tweets, status updates, Instagrams and blog posts will affect others. I represent so much more than myself – my readers, my personal brand, clients and brands I work with, family & friends are all just as susceptible to the opinions people form from my updates. Sherman apologized for the attention he took away from his teammates and their win, but owned every part of his interview. His brash self-confidence rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and there was a lot of backlash. Are you owning the energy you're putting out there with what you say?
In regards to Sherman's interview, I can't tell you how many racially-charged and derogatory tweets and posts I saw. Just awful. Why do human beings say such horrible things to each other, or about people they don't even know? Remembering that your words have vibrations, try to stay positive in what you're putting out there. I know every once in awhile, we have to air out our frustrations, but nobody wants to follow a perpetually Negative Nancy. It's easy to hurl insults or post about everything that's wrong with life. It's much harder but MUCH more worth it to share what it is you're grateful or happy for.
What do you bring to the table?
There are so many articles on this one post-game interview, deciphering it from every angle possible. Far too many articles in my opinion. Throw in a very happy city of Seattle posting their excitement about the Super Bowl, and everywhere I look is something new about Richard Sherman and the Seahawks. I'm not complaining – I'm overjoyed too! – but when I'm sharing articles, posting status updates or writing articles like this about the matter, I'm thinking about the value I'm bringing to the table. Are you contributing anything new or interesting to the conversation? What kind of audience are you speaking to? I'm betting most of you here on IFB might care less about Sherman and/or the Seahawks – and that's okay. I hope you're learning from my observations anyway!
Are you distracting yourself?
One of my favorite quotes from Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Work Week is “Are you inventing things to distract you from what's important?” Social media is arguably the biggest source of distraction for many. Devouring all of the Sherman interview aftermath is my latest way of distracting myself. Asking myself this question has turned my attention from useless social media updates onto something more productive time and time again.
[Image courtesy of Jess Estrada]