Important Sign Posts or Meaningless Words?

Social Media influenced the American election.  

Social Media provides platforms for shaping the community’s beliefs and actions and we are just not teaching audiences enough about the power of repeated subliminal messages. Writers, posters and readers need to get busy commenting and questioning rather that just liking and sharing.


It’s very human to seek moral guidance.  People have been doing it since……well for a long time. It seems to give us a sense of purpose and well-being, especially in hard times.  This human need allows religious figures, ‘gurus’, politicians, academics, journey men, public figures, ratbags and combinations of the aforementioned to spruik their ideas.  They do it from pulpits, stages across the airwaves, on television, through newspapers and of course using Social Media.  And it is not only the spruikers who do the publishing. The friends of the spruikers do it, often as a marketing or sales mechanism, sometimes just simply from the heart because they love the idea.  The spruikers of ideology commonly use  short punchy sayings, proverbs or poems, often cliche ridden,  to attain maximum branding potential of their moral positions and, usually, related services and products.

In a world where people have so little time, and prefer to browse than read, it is the time for slogans full of propaganda and unsubstantiated ‘deep’thinking.

As a huge Facebook and LinkedIn user I have always been keen to ‘like’ or ‘share’ what people present.  It is a little like giving your ‘friends’ a handshake or nod of approval.  ‘Like’ their post and they hopefully know your thinking of them and the thoughts are positive.  I love being positive with people.   And, of course I love it when people ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on material I post which, in my own defence, is usually my own words. But I have now started to take a greater interest in the posts of moral and motivational slogans that are now finding their way, especially onto LinkedIn, a ‘serious’ business networking tool.  I have become more critical of the content lately because i have been looking at it through the eyes of my two children whom are 21 and 18.  They are also high users of Social Media and definitely browsers not readers.

I worry about the short sharp high impact moral slogans, because I hate the thought of my children taking this material to heart.

I see that they, like so many young people (even though they are both most intelligent) can be vulnerable to the subliminal impacts of Social Media posts. Especially when truth and ‘some truth’ are being published without differentiation.

One set of helpful hints recently presented by a very talented marketer with the very best of intentions included ‘Stay Laser Focused’, ‘Don’t Waste Time’ along with a few others including ‘Talk Less’ and  ‘Ignore Nonsense’.  In one context, if I’m studying for exams or working furiously to meet a target this is all good advice.  But without context the last thing I want for my children or our team is to stop talking and enjoying some nonsense in the workplace.  Talking a lot about the right things mean engagement and some nonsense with some limitations is a sign of morale and comradery. This nice Social Media reflection needed detailed comment and reflections, not just shares and likes.

Oprah Winfrey famously said ‘Failure is a steppingstone to greatness’.

I love this saying.  I want my children and team to understand it.  I also want my children and team to believe it. I want people to know that picking oneself up after failure is important to future success.  Determination is the essence of achieving success.  Now let’s compare her quote to that of Coco Chanel who said ‘Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.’   Who is right? Who is wrong? Lets talk about it!   Failure is inevitable but did Coco mean that success is achieved by those who don’t know ‘ultimate failure’ is inevitable.  What a wonderful conversation-let’s hope there is a forum to analyse, compare and debate the worthiness of  both these often posted sayings.

‘Oh come on Stephen’ I hear you all saying. ‘Stop being so literal and negative……go find something better to do than dissect harmless moral gifts from amazing people!!!’  And yes you are right, today’s post can only go so far.  But, this is all part of the subliminal age. People with sometimes shallow intentions speak words of great depth.  Social Media audiences continually receive these words and rarely ask the question ‘does this make sense?’  Instead they digest it and place it somewhere into the long-term memory.  So why do I care?

This is the age when Donald Trump’s Social Media drive helped win an election that will now shape the world.   His sometimes nonsensical, unsubstantiated rhetoric and ‘moral’ positions was too easily received by disillusioned and unquestioning individuals.

The debate that often followed Trump’s Twitter comments was usually either hostile or adoring and not much in between. But the tool Twitter is built for the fleeting and not for logical and constructive debate.  I do deeply believe it is time to think more about what we write on Social Media and it’s time to think about the messages people so easily digest-consciously and unconsciously.  It’s also time to teach our young people to question what the author is saying and why are they say it?  It is time that schools provide education on Social Media use, its benefits, pitfalls and their own personal responsibilities when using this very powerful group of communication platforms.  Responsible use of Social Media needs to become a formal part of the English syllabus as soon as possible.

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