Bullying tendency occurs when there is something that’s considered out of line with the widely accepted perception. The effect of this tendency is greatly amplified in social media. Whether you agree or not, the article written by Cathryn Sloane, a student at University of Iowa, at NextGen Journal sparked a controversy. The article, titled Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25 lit the emotion of many people because Sloane stated that nobody over 25 is qualified to handle social media jobs. More than 600 comments were posted on that article, most of which were full of anger.
Let me post an excerpt from the article:
You might argue that everyone, regardless of age, was along for the ride, or at least everyone under the age of 30. I’m not saying they weren’t, but we spent our adolescence growing up with social media. We were around long enough to see how life worked without it but had it thrown upon us at an age where the ways to make the best/correct use of it came most naturally to us. No one else will ever be able to have as clear an understanding of these services, no matter how much they may think they do.
The key is that we learned to use social media socially before professionally, rather than vice versa or simultaneously. After all, it is called social media; the seemingly obvious importance of incorporating comforting social aspects into professional usage seems to go over several companies’ heads. To many people in the generations above us, Facebook and Twitter are just the latest ways of getting messages out there to the public, that also happen to be the best.
Personally I can understand how this article fueled the outrage of many people. Despite being in the demography of people she considers qualified to be in the social media industry, Sloane doesn’t seem to be able to withstand and repel the strong arguments and jibes made towards her even though we all know she could use social media to clarify her position or even argue back.
I see that by not seeing a response from Sloane brings up another issue which is cyber bullying. According to an editor at NextGen Journal Connor Toohil in this article, hateful responses have unfortunately reached Sloane’s social media accounts. A professional social media worker tweeted her opinion,
— BetsyYates (@BetsyYates) July 21, 2012
It reminds of me the same pattern when the public was outraged by a tweet sent by a student of SMA 6, a popular high school in Jakarta, which was typical of a teenager’s response, following the beating of a news reporter at SMA 6. Without knowing the full story, the public took part in bullying the student through Twitter which ended up with the student closing his account.
The speed at which a message spreads in social media can lead an argument into fueling the public fire and if it has reached this level of condition, the maturity of users in being able to control their emotions will decide whether it will end up with bullying or not.
Abang Edwin is a practitioner of online community management since 1998 long before the term social media/social networks become popular. He began his journey by experimenting with several online communities which eventually successful at that, to this day he still gives consultations about knowing character and foster online communities for brands / agencies and individuals.
He was at Yahoo! for over 4 years as a community manager and also formerly Country Manager – Indonesia for Thoughtbuzz, a social media monitoring company.