A few days ago, after a lecture on one of our university campuses, the thought of the exhibition of people’s attitudes on social media flashed through my mind. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) define social media as an aspect of the internet that allows individuals and groups to create, and publish online content, share the content and interact with it. Additionally, Lusk, B. (2010) defines social media as a multipurpose platform with web-based technology which incorporates text, sound, video and images with the purpose of making communication more interactive, appreciative and enjoyable.
The various social media handles are: WhatsApp, Skype, YouTube, Net log, Twitter, Facebook, among others. Communicating on social media expresses the thought, mindset, heart, intent and the general personality of people. The 21st century is considered as the information age. This is the era when information provision and management have become more critical at all levels of development than ever.
With the supposedly obsolete nature of the traditional media such as Television, radio and print commercials, the new age media connects people from all walks of life on one platform. In a group platform for example, different people exhibit different behaviours. Once you belong to any WhatsApp group platform, there are different characters to encounter.
Either the platform is an old students’ page, business, religious, academic or any platform for a specific objective, certain traits prove the individualities of people and their reactions toward issues or situations. I therefore bring to the fore different people with different attitudes to encounter on any social media platform: the jealous member, the comment reader, the all-knowing member, the confusionist and the selfless member.
The Jealous One
Jealousy is the uneasiness one exhibits especially on hearing of the exploits of a colleague or an old classmate. Upon personal observation, I have come to know that, only a few people openly or genuinely congratulate others on an appointment into a higher office, achieving academic laurels or achieving high societal status.
There are some people who after decades of completing school wish that none of their classmates goes higher in life. To the jealous one, everyone must look up to them. No one should be better than them. They get angry on hearing of their colleagues’ academic and business exploits. Be careful of such people and tactfully withdraw from them.
A jealous person’s posts and comments define their internal ‘animalistic’ trait – they are never happy about others’ progress in life. Don’t befriend an old school mate/ friend who is competitive, secretive and uncomfortable about your achievements.
The Comment Readers
Comment readers are people who never pass any comment on the group platform they belong to. They only read to ascertain the thoughts, wisdom and ‘foolishness’ of other group members. Some of the comments put up by other group members put them into deep laughter. Others make them go angry, while they also glean wisdom from other members’ comments.
It is not always polite to be a comment reader, especially, if your inputs are gamely appreciated. However, in a situation where the environment is quite hostile and targets brilliant suggestions or inputs for ‘crucifixion’, comment readers outshine their detractors. However, on a wider perspective, if you belong to any healthy platform, your thought, post or a beautiful story read, could be reposted to positively impact lives. Avoid being a dormant member.
In the middle of your busy schedule, a passing by pleasantry once in a while could refresh the minds of people about you. Don’t only benefit from people’s motivational statements or relevant information for mental growth. From time to time, pass nice comments to encourage others. If you have 90% of your group members being comment readers, the objective of the platform may not be achieved. Silence toward the core tempo of the group therefore becomes weak.
The All-Knowing Ones
These people act as if they are well-versed in every discipline: ranging from archaeology to zoology. They carry a sense of pride by the way they conduct themselves on the group platform. Nobody knows better than them. There is nothing wrong with being knowledgeable.
But where one shuts off the brains of others by their posts and comments, the virus of pride sets in. People with this possessive trait of all-knowing seem to have an information about every member. They are proud and never respect the views of others. Everything must be about them and if they are not projected, they become extremely resentful.
Most at times, people who portray to be all-knowing are considered as attention seekers. Everything must be about them and no other person. If you happen to have such a person on your group platform, you better be careful in your dealing with such a person.
The Confusionist cares less about the objective of the group. They disrespect the core values of the association. Their mission is to constantly create confusion on the page. Their posts or comments are indirectly toward some group members.
They are inquisitive and seem to know every detail of every member on the page. They crave for information about members and use them to negatively run them down. Until such a person is politely taken off from the page, the vision of the group may crawl. On a group page, you must learn to tactfully deal with such a social miscreant.
Confusionists divide members. They privately chat with others to dislike people who are highly respected by others on the page. A Confusionist is dangerous to live with. They are always on a WhatsApp page issuing statements or posts to create division.
The Selfless One
The selfless one goes all out to make lives better. They are patient, respectful and orderly in their posts or statements on the group platform. They make people happy and genuinely speak their mind, wanting to reshape their environment. They offer advice by their posts and freely give out resources when the need arises.
A selfless person is happy with the progress each person is making in their lives. Also, a selfless person is not a hypocrite. Such people (selfless ones) are content with what they have but never stay at a point of inertia. While encouraging people to strive hard, they equally work hard as well to put their name on top, thereby inspiring others to higher heights.
May I respectfully ask you a question? Which of these characters define you? Are you The Jealous Member, a Comment Reader, The All-Knowing One, The Confusionist or The Selfless One? What do you hope to achieve with your attitude? Do you want the advancement of your group or you are there to destroy, manipulate lives or inspire group members to a common goal? Define your involvement and stay within the objective set on that social media platform. Where you are not comfortable with the activities of dominant and unscrupulous members’ behaviour, the best option is to be silent and focused on the bigger picture.
Kaplan, A.M., & Haenlein M. (2010), Users of The World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media, Business Horizons, 53, no.1, pp.61-64.
Lusk, B. (2010) Digital Natives and Social Media Behaviours: An Overview. The Prevention Research, 17. pp. 3-6
The writer is an Academic, Visiting Lecturer, Leadership Consultant and a Reverend Minister with the WordSprings City Church, Kumasi-Ghana
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