Upload, not Unload

One issue I find with having a sizeable following on social media is that I don’t feel like I can show the kind of frustration that others do when they share personal, political, or professional ‘concerns’. I like to think that I show the same kind of professionalism online as I do in person. For me this is what stops me from ranting and ‘unloading’ my daily frustrations online. Being professional, all the time, means I don’t think it’s appropriate to either mix personal (political) views with work content (MOOC, eLearning, flipped classroom, video in learning, etc.). That’s just me. Sometimes I slip, but even then it’s been carefully considered before I slip and share it. A large proportion of my followers are interested in my work (that’s what I really use Twitter et al for. Facebook and Instagram is private non-work related stuff) I don’ like to openly shared political views, discussed religion, etc. outside of my close friends and family.

I think we all feel like this at some point or other. Some people I know on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Fliboard, etc. are just better at venting these raw emotions than me. They can somehow tun this negativity into a positive post or tweet, even naming he organisation or individual, making a very contrived but carefully crafted tweet/insult sound amusing and friendly, and generally waxing lyrical about their woes. I can’t do that. I don’t have the words or nerve to ‘name and shame’. It’s not my style. 

I’ve always believed in being polite, showing respect, offering support, helping where I can and maintaining a professional attitude as a core feature of my work and home life. I don’t want to teach my kids that it’s OK to be disrespectful, to be nasty, unkind or down-right rude – to anyone, for any reason. I just can’t do moaning or bitching or complaining. At all. When I do it’s under great strain to stop myself being swept up in the moment and group-moan and saying too much. I’m a rubbish liar too. I just don’t see the need in it. I don’t make veiled attempts to hide what I want to say behind smarmy comments, I don’t pretend to be best friends (only to pass judgment behind someone’s back) where there isn’t a genuine friendship there. 

We are a time with social platforms and how we use them that can, and does, have devastating affect on people. Just this week I read a heart breaking story about a 15 year old who felt the only way to get away from his bullies was by hanging himself. What kind of society are we letting ourselves get drawn into where we’re no longer shocked when we hear these stories because they’re becoming so frequent? You may think this is a bit far fetched, but ‘real-life’ comments, the snide remarks, the behind-the-back bitching, etc., is the first step to a wider problem that, if left unchecked, will allow this behaviour to become ‘accepted’ and ‘normal’. While it’s not healthy to keep emotions locked up, it can also be unhealthy to let them out in an un-constructive way. We’ve moved our (often personal) moaning and complaining away from the office ‘water-cooler’ and online into a much larger version with many millions of people able to read and react to it.

Every so often I’ll let a little bit slide. I sometimes tweet things like “I need to rant”, but don’t. What I do get is sympathetic replies or DMs saying that you’re also feeling the need to vent frustration at your own circumstances. I thank you for this, it is a great benefit to know we all have to work with the same kind of people, same kind of systems, same kind of problems.

Instead of uploading, sharing, publishing, posting, etc. I would really like to unload all my frustrations. Let them out, stand back and not care about the fall out. But I can’t, I’ve set myself high standards and I aim to keep them. Despite how much damage it does to keep it quiet I strive to maintain the posture of the proverbial swan – smooth and graceful above water, paddling like crazy against the flow under it! 

But what I do instead is to upload, pin, share, tweet, post, flip, etc. I try and find the positive, the constructive, the collaborative, and the professional way to get a message across. And if I can’t? Then I don’t post, pin, share, tweet, etc. It’s not worth it. 

Image source: Kristina Alexanderson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

  • David, I often feel this way too. And I recently went against my usual blogging norms:

    http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2016/11/kindness-innovation-and-tuesdays-election.html

    So I totally get what you’re saying. But at some point I wonder what obligations those of us with a platform have to stand up for (or against) certain things, even if they’re a bit off our usual ‘professional’ topics. When I posted this I made the decision that ‘ranting’ against racism, sexism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia was worth whatever political blowback or unfollowing behavior occurred. Because if those of us with voices don’t stand up, who will? Is it ‘professional’ to stand by while awful things happen? Those are the questions I’m wrestling with right now…