A few days ago, I watched The Road, based on the book of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. It is a dark, dark film about a post-Armageddon world, and it follows the path of a father (played by Viggo Mortensen) and his son. They are trying to survive in a world where there are no animals, no plants, and where most of the other people have become cannibals in order to survive.
As the father and son trudge towards the coast, where they hope to find some relief, the son’s moral compass becomes more and more skewed and confused. “Are we the good guys?” He asks his father. The father responds in the affirmative, of course, but as the movie wears on, you become less and less sure what being “the good guy” means in that kind of world.
It kind of made me think about the world of Social Media.
Who are the bad guys?
Who are the bad guys in the world of Social Media? Some people might have answers, but the more I stick around this online world, the more I’m convinced that nothing is good or bad, right or wrong, black or white. For example, consider the ten things people do to grow their online presence that I ignore. If people do those things, are they bad people? Hardly. In fact, it would be extremely easy to argue that they are more driven, more aggressive, or more goal-oriented than I am because they do all of those things.
Are people bad if they disagree with you? Are you a bad person if you think a big name is doing something wrong? My vote is for no, but people don’t always act that way, do they?
Have you done something that might classify you as a “bad guy” to someone else? Probably. You might not even know it. Even people who do things that most people agree are blatantly wrong are probably not bad guys. They might be inexperienced or unaware.
An eye for an eye, a tweet for a tweet
In the online world, it’s super easy to live by the adage, “If they can do it, I can do it.” In the movie, as times get somehow worse and worse, Viggo Mortensen’s character does things because he feels he is being victimized by the same actions. Is he still a good guy? Is he a good guy doing bad things, or is he simply becoming a bad guy?
Do you find yourself doing things because other people are getting away with it, so why not? Are you conducting practices that may not be 100% above the bar because you figure no one will notice?
The plateau (as opposed to the road)
My friend Gloria (@grandmaondeck) asked me the other day how you overcome plateaus online. I wish I had an answer, but in fact, this question is currently bothering me as well. In fact, it was on my mind when I wrote that “ten things” post, because the temptation was for me to just go ahead and do some of those tricks that would help me grow. Did going back to climbing mean that much to me? Did I want to perceive of myself as a bad guy temporarily so that I could build my online presence a bit more or a bit faster?
The answer for me was no, in the end. Does that mean I would have been a good guy or a bad guy in your eyes? Not necessarily, right? You tell me.
Decisions Every Day
When you engage with people, are you judging them as good guys or bad guys? I’d advise against it. There are so many layers of peoples’ personalities that we don’t get to see online. You don’t know what they are dealing with. You don’t know how they might be perceiving of you. And remember, every time you point a finger at someone, there are 3 pointing back at you. As confused as you might be about online morality, they are likely just as perplexed, if not moreso.
Are we the good guys? What do you think?
This is post #33 in the Engagement Series. If you are worried about missing something, please hit that subscribe button! Thank you!
Image by Jan Magne Sæther. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Orkanen