What if no one tells you that you're wrong?

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On the most recent Media Hacks, we were discussing the Crocs extortion case, and this thought popped into my head:

The most dangerous part of social media is that it’s inherently self-selecting towards agreement, which means that fewer and fewer people will tell you that you’re wrong.

What do I mean? Simple law of attraction. We follow people we like. We read the opinions of those people we generally agree with because it’s pleasant to do so. We friend and become friends with those of similar perspectives, and we attract people of like minds.

When you surround yourself – or are surrounded by – people who agree with you 95% of the time, it can seriously distort your own self perception. When nearly every reply to your blog posts is “I agree!” and “OMG you’re so right!” you can start to believe your own press and develop an inflated sense of self worth, which in turn leads to things like blogger extortion, a la the Crocs case. When you read and listen to only the things that you like, it naturally moves your opinions to be more extreme.

You will naturally attract people of like mind. That’s okay. But as your efforts in new media and social media continue to reap rewards, take time out to self-balance and self-check. Re-center yourself by talking with the best of friends – the friend who is wholly unafraid to call BS on you and tell you when you’re wrong about something. Listen to that friend, that opinion, and use it to help you discern where you can improve.

Neil Gorman talked about this at Podcasters Across Borders – how too many people are afraid to disagree with “thought leaders” and “social media superstars”. I asked him the same thing I ask you – no matter how valuable you perceive someone is, the folks who you perceive as leaders desperately need you to call BS on us when we are wrong (me especially), so that we can continue to think critically, to learn, to grow ourselves.

We need your dissent. We need your clarity. We need your honesty. I in turn will be honest in my dealings with you. During the discussions about race and gender in social media at PodCamp Boston and afterwards, I was delighted to hear that a good number of people disagreed with my views, in some cases exceptionally vigorously. Good! The different perspective lets me see more and understand more, and I’m happier and better for it. I may still not agree, but I am better informed.

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes from Barack Obama – we can disagree without being disagreeable. When I’m wrong, tell me. When you’re wrong, I’ll tell you. When we’re both wrong, hopefully someone will tell us.

Agreed?


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Comments

39 responses to “What if no one tells you that you're wrong?”

  1. Your post reminds of me the Roman custom during triumphs – the man being celebrated would have a slave up behind him on the chariot continuously saying “memento homo” or “remember you are mortal”. Perhaps we need the modern social media equivalent? Hubris is worth guarding against! (OK so I'm mixing Greek & Roman ideas, but it makes sense ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Rather like the writer's memento mori, eh?

  3. good point penn. I think that feedback, both positive and constructive must be fostered. Some of my favorite podcasts deal with this issue in there own special way. For example, Buzz Out Loud ha a section of the show they call “well actually” which allows people to correct or disagree with the show content. I think this is a great way to create some balance.

    Is this an issue of yes men or not giving the open opportunity to have some dissent?

  4. Bit of both, I think.

  5. Lindsey Avatar
    Lindsey

    Good post and great points – although is it bad if I agree with you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Not at all, madame. But when I'm wrong, I expect you to call me on it.

  7. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I feel like Twitter is too kumbaya for me to really speak my mind. (Guess that's what my husband is there for … hee hee.)

  8. Absolutely agree, Chris. I see it as the ability to curate our own world via RSS, etc. The power of “mainstream” media to set the tone is vanishing. I read a great editorial by the editor of my small-town newspaper yesterday, and he talked about how the health care debate is the death knell for newspaper influence. Even though EVERY major news outlet has come straight out and said the “death panel” concept is nonsense, it won't die because it's being fanned by non-traditional sources.

    I wrote a post about this trend a few weeks ago called “Why Blogs Will Kill Dissent” http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-media

    Great post. Thanks for taking the position that everything we do in social media isn't a net positive. We need more of that contrarian thinking.

  9. Your post reminds of me the Roman custom during triumphs – the man being celebrated would have a slave up behind him on the chariot continuously saying “memento homo” or “remember you are mortal”. Perhaps we need the modern social media equivalent? Hubris is worth guarding against! (OK so I'm mixing Greek & Roman ideas, but it makes sense ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Rather like the writer's memento mori, eh?

  11. good point penn. I think that feedback, both positive and constructive must be fostered. Some of my favorite podcasts deal with this issue in there own special way. For example, Buzz Out Loud ha a section of the show they call “well actually” which allows people to correct or disagree with the show content. I think this is a great way to create some balance.

    Is this an issue of yes men or not giving the open opportunity to have some dissent?

  12. Bit of both, I think.

  13. Lindsey Avatar
    Lindsey

    Good post and great points – although is it bad if I agree with you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Not at all, madame. But when I'm wrong, I expect you to call me on it.

  15. jennifer_taylor Avatar
    jennifer_taylor

    I like it, though I found myself wanting to resist agreeing with you – grin. There is always a risk with honest feedback, thus I tread gently – “hmmm, you're asking, but let me give you an option to opt out – I tend to be candid” – I love honesty, delivered respectfully…because again, back to that inflated ego….its just my perspective unless we're talking mathmatical equation or historical fact.

  16. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I feel like Twitter is too kumbaya for me to really speak my mind. (Guess that's what my husband is there for … hee hee.)

  17. I thrive on dissent, but what I find, is most people don't have the courage to stand up to me and tell me I'm wrong. bummer.

  18. Absolutely agree, Chris. I see it as the ability to curate our own world via RSS, etc. The power of “mainstream” media to set the tone is vanishing. I read a great editorial by the editor of my small-town newspaper yesterday, and he talked about how the health care debate is the death knell for newspaper influence. Even though EVERY major news outlet has come straight out and said the “death panel” concept is nonsense, it won't die because it's being fanned by non-traditional sources.

    I wrote a post about this trend a few weeks ago called “Why Blogs Will Kill Dissent” http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-media

    Great post. Thanks for taking the position that everything we do in social media isn't a net positive. We need more of that contrarian thinking.

  19. jennifer_taylor Avatar
    jennifer_taylor

    I like it, though I found myself wanting to resist agreeing with you – grin. There is always a risk with honest feedback, thus I tread gently – “hmmm, you’re asking, but let me give you an option to opt out – I tend to be candid” – I love honesty, delivered respectfully…because again, back to that inflated ego….its just my perspective unless we’re talking mathmatical equation or historical fact.

  20. I thrive on dissent, but what I find, is most people don't have the courage to stand up to me and tell me I'm wrong. bummer.

  21. Everyone loves to be a superhero, but not everyone has the proper mindset to be one. It is important to have a free mind so you can be your best.

  22. Everyone loves to be a superhero, but not everyone has the proper mindset to be one. It is important to have a free mind so you can be your best.

  23. I see what you're saying here. People like people they're like. I love it when you get Internet “nobodies” that post excellent case studies that disprove the experts. Ultimately numbers and ROI define success, not just gurus.

  24. I see what you're saying here. People like people they're like. I love it when you get Internet “nobodies” that post excellent case studies that disprove the experts. Ultimately numbers and ROI define success, not just gurus.

  25. tdhurst Avatar
    tdhurst

    Some people don't even allow that, however. I've been silently banned by Brian Clark and Copyblogger for disagreeing with him and that's a shame.

  26. Ouch! I hope you blogged about it on your own site.

  27. tdhurst Avatar
    tdhurst

    I have, but what good is it talking if a) no one talks back and b) the flattening of the world using social media has only allowed a new popular class of “elites” to rule the internet?

  28. A tough question. Ultimately, though, what does help is that said group can't stop or prevent you from becoming powerful in your own right, which would be my preferred choice of action. If someone else stops you from commenting, bugger them, and focus your energy on building your own stuff to compete with them and ideally, eat their lunch.

  29. tdhurst Avatar
    tdhurst

    Yes, it's about being so freaking awesome they don't matter anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Some people don’t even allow that, however. I’ve been silently banned by Brian Clark and Copyblogger for disagreeing with him and that’s a shame.

  31. Ouch! I hope you blogged about it on your own site.

  32. Some people don't even allow that, however. I've been silently banned by Brian Clark and Copyblogger for disagreeing with him and that's a shame.

  33. Ouch! I hope you blogged about it on your own site.

  34. I have, but what good is it talking if a) no one talks back and b) the flattening of the world using social media has only allowed a new popular class of “elites” to rule the internet?

  35. I have, but what good is it talking if a) no one talks back and b) the flattening of the world using social media has only allowed a new popular class of “elites” to rule the internet?

  36. A tough question. Ultimately, though, what does help is that said group can't stop or prevent you from becoming powerful in your own right, which would be my preferred choice of action. If someone else stops you from commenting, bugger them, and focus your energy on building your own stuff to compete with them and ideally, eat their lunch.

  37. A tough question. Ultimately, though, what does help is that said group can't stop or prevent you from becoming powerful in your own right, which would be my preferred choice of action. If someone else stops you from commenting, bugger them, and focus your energy on building your own stuff to compete with them and ideally, eat their lunch.

  38. Yes, it's about being so freaking awesome they don't matter anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Yes, it's about being so freaking awesome they don't matter anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

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