Posted by: peterhact | April 16, 2010

Time to brush up on our Manners.

I have noticed that the world is smaller. There are more people in it, there are more people talking in it via social media. And this is a great start for us as a race. Unfortunately, that word, race, is being used to portray people in a country as racist. The fall back that the offenders have is that it is their right to free speech.

This is absolutely true. It is my right to be offended, to comment on their remarks and to tell everyone I know that they’re a racist. The problem is, in this digital age without borders, this global family of every connected human being on the planet, what I do or say after this person has made their free statement means very little. The damage has been done.

Where does the damage appear? The world media picks up the story; runs with it and the offender exits stage left, too late.  Me, personally, start to see people I have spoken to all over the world stop following me in my social media network.

And then it snowballs, building into an avalanche of opinion towards the country of origin. Suddenly, the inhabitants of that country become denizens of depravity, racist, bigots, intolerable people who should be avoided at all costs.

Who suffers first? Tourism. And from tourism’s decline, jobs are lost. Equipment that is destined to benefit companies in the travel industry isn’t purchased, making the companies that are selling it suffer.  And so on it goes.

I had an example, one that I had thought about long and hard, based on the free speech principle. Here is my example:

A company has created a new product for the market. It will revolutionize the way we can do business anywhere in the world, and effectively tears down any borders, language barriers – it translates into every language, and currency exchange issues, it auto calculates the right costing regardless of the location of the buyer or seller.

The company has spent Five years researching, designing, developing their product. Now, after all their hard work, they are ready to release it to the global market. They are really proud of their product, and they should be. It is amazing, it makes the world so much smaller from an ability to do business with anyone, anywhere.

The big day dawns for the release. They decide to allow a couple of the key designers to access the Social media networks to tell everyone about their great product. Unfortunately, one of the designers has an axe to grind. He wants the world to know that he thinks certain ethnic groups shouldn’t have access to the product, nor access to anything that might improve their lives. He hides behind Free Speech, and sends poisonous commentary out into the global community. The big problem that the company has is that he is using his own account, not the company’s – they cannot really stop him, and they cannot see what he is doing on his private account.

The company finds that instead of their glory day of a new release, when people should be celebrating with them, they are instead ganging up on them and ridiculing them, threatening them, treating them badly. Now, if they sack the designer, will that appease those members of the community who are up in arms? No. And they delay the release while they go into damage control to find out who did this and why these comments were made. This is not a cheap decision, they know that their competitor is working on a similar concept,  and every day of delay may mean that they lose the edge.

If the designer had just celebrated the completion of the project, the release of the product could have gone ahead, and they could have been wealthy very quickly. Here is the issue as I see it. People forget that the information that they are sending out is to the world. not just a mate on the social network, but to absolutely everyone else.

If I wanted to make a comment about another person, I speak to that person privately. Social media can be an incredible enablement tool, or it can cause the death of a product, a company and a lot of jobs. I would hate to read about my country being classed as a home of racists. I would also hate to read a comment that called me inferior, my religious beliefs ridiculed, or an attack on my family. People I communicate with don’t resort to behavior like that. They treat the networks that they are in as if they were speaking to the world.

And they are.

Perhaps we need to have a series of courses called “Etiquette and the Social Media network”. As the new generations join us in this wonderful new communication method I would like to think that we can teach them the dos and don’ts of commenting. The global network means that I have access to anyone in the world who might be able to help me with a problem, information, and a better understanding of another culture or country.

I don’t listen to racists, bigots or anyone who discriminates against others. It is their freedom to speak, but it is my freedom not to listen.

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Responses

  1. […] the rest here:  Time to brush up on our Manners. « My Work Blog – Technology and … Next Basic Manners To Teach To Children When Dining In Restaurant …Vauxhall's […]


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