This is the time to make the social web a better place

I hear a lot of complaints about how mean, depressing, and disheartening the social web can be.

This can certainly be true.

The social web is simply a reflection of humanity.  You can find greed, extremists, and evil at every turn. But that doesn’t mean it has to be that way for you and me.

You see, the beauty of the social web is that we can choose to make the experience whatever we like by surrounding ourselves with great people and content that make our lives better.

There are a couple of folks out there that operate on the edges of ethics and every time I encountered them it would simply create negativity. So I unfollowed them … and magically, the web immediately became a happier place.

Of course we should not shun diversity of opinion — that pushes the learning edges. But why are you putting up with haters if you don’t have to?

If you’re one of those feeling a little angry or unhappy about what you’re seeing on the web these days, maybe it’s time for an attitude adjustment.

  • Purge your blog reader.
  • Unfollow or block those who chronically bring you down.
  • Surround yourself with people who are nurturing and challenge you to grow as a person and a professional.

The New Year is symbol of optimism and hope. This is a perfect time to adjust your social media experience to reflect that too!

What is your strategy for capturing the positive and minimizing the hate in 2013?

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  • Mark, I’ve done much of the purging and, although I’ll never have a thick skin, I have broad shoulders, so much of the negativity online I work to shoulder, or ignore. For my part, I have a simple Mission in life; to spread Joy. I will continue to do so, to the best of my ability, each and every day. I will shine the spotlight on those who add to the value of what we are working to accomplish, and ignore those who choose to see the underbelly of life. Not always easy, but it’s the high road…and the right road. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Great attitude! Thanks for sharing Kaarina!

  • Well said Mark… it is up to us, most especially with regard to on line interaction, with whom, and how we interact.

    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” ~Dr. Seuss

  • Mark, thanks very much for the timely post and I think it must just be my limited exposure on the social web that results in me not currently having the kind of interactions that you are referring to.
    However, I do know that I have a lot of ‘dead wood’ – people or organisations I followed in the past when building up relationships who are inactive or, in some cases, overly active in aspects that do not relate in any way to my business or my interests – clogging up feeds and sometimes stopping me from seeing what I want to see.
    I think that for me, anyway, right now is an excellent time to review my social media strategy for the year ahead and that must include a determination to cut down on those whose endless posts are of no interest whatsoever to me and take good heed of your third tip:”Surround yourself with people who are nurturing and challenge you to grow as a person and a professional.” – that’s very good advice and, as always, very well put.
    Many thanks indeed for all of your very useful advice in 2012. Very Best Wishes for a Happy and Prosperous 2013.

  • Social Media is a huge part of my day for many good reasons and I’m quick to adjust the stream to exclude the ‘downers’. It’s self defense!

  • I have written a note last night while wishing & remembering all my friends whom i have found during my journey in Social Web and i talked about a philosophy which i have been following to build relationships and nurturing them to prosper.

    My last night note: “I tried to apply a philosophy to improve my life, instincts and skills and i.e., To be transparent, honest, connected and always look/adopt all the positives i find in every relationship. Plus i always celebrate my friends successes and always helps them when they are sad and seen a failure. This helped me creating a bond that can never be broken. This practice quadrupled my strengths and let the negatives out of my life.”

    2013 is the year when i am seeing my dreams come true, and its only because of my friends. I believe that WE GROW ONLY WHEN OUR RELATIONSHIPS GROW.

  • April jaffe

    Happy New year! Thanks for this great article. I am all about being positive so reading this so was refreshing. A wonderful reminder to people in all channels of communication not subject your self to people that you bring you down. Here is looking forward to a very good 2013.

  • Thanks very much April!

  • Now THAT would make a great blog post! Thanks Ted and Happy New Year!

  • Thanks for the very kind words and your support Matthew. All the best for the new year!

  • Absolutely. Survival, for me! : )

  • Beautifully said. Getting to connect with you was a real highlight for me in 2012. Many thanks for your kindness, friendship and support!

  • Lori Witzel

    Hey Mark – as you know, I’m making more time for the social (not-purely-biz) part of the social web lately. This post itself is an uplift, thanks for that (although I wish I could bottle my walking buddy Big Al – his big smile and booming “GOOD MORNIN’ EVER’BODY!” at an 8am walking group is better than a triple espresso for an instant lift).

    To answer your question, “What is your strategy for capturing the positive and minimizing the hate in 2013?” I am tempted to say “send cookies to the positive folks and send this to the negative folks:“. *evil laugh*

    But seriously…I think my strategy is “attention curation.” Knowing that I’m the sum of the stories I tell myself, I need to act like a good gallery curator would, and select the most thoughtful AND positive for my attention. I also need to be creating the sorts of things that would fit within that gallery.

    You, and the community here, are a big part of that. It was great to connect with you IRL in 2012, and I am prepared for an AWESOME 2013 for us all. (Now put that pin down…)


  • My symbol of hope just fell sound to sleep on me, as I finished re-reading the Tao of Twitter on my Kindle. (absolutely fantastic, by the way. Thank you again) Everyone who knows me knows that my 7 year old son, Mattie, was born with Down syndrome. The 6 months prior to his birth were absolutely horrific, but since he was born…he has taught me how to see the good in just about everything & everyone. He just has a way of making things seem a whole lot brighter. He wakes up every day like it’s Christmas morning. He never ceases to amaze me.

    How does this play into the social web. Directly it doesn’t, but his perspective carries over to everything that I do in my life. I like to say that “every day is a good day, it’s just a matter of what degree good it is”. I don’t pay attention to negativity in person and don’t give it too much
    attention online. I think I’ll continue this in 2013.

    I’ve spent a lot of time observing and “sort of” participating in social media. The conversation that you and I had was a catapult to really helping me understand how this whole thing can work. And one of the most important takeaways that I got from the Tao of Twitter was that this is P2P, which really opened up my eyes a lot.

    My strategy…just be myself and we’ll see what happens. Happy 2013!

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  • I went through this exact exercise in December and purged! My social space is now a happier place! It’s amazing just how much the negativity seeps into your everyday life. There’s no need to accept it… cut out the growth and move on.

    Now I just need to remain vigilant to make sure nothing creeps back in… great advice Mark to start 2013 as you mean to go on.

  • It does seem that no matter how positive you want to be online their
    will always be people who want to cut you down and impact on your
    thoughts and opinions. This in itself is part and parcel of being social
    either online or in person, but focusing on what you aim to achieve by
    delivering your message helps you to keep perspective and integrity.

    I often find that peoples negative opinions can actually help to
    reinforce your own thoughts and so dispelling them off hand is not
    always the best thing to do but it can be frustrating when your
    attempting to lead discussions with positive overtones.

  • Really great idea Lori. Will look forward to seeing your progress!

  • May I say that is probably the perfect strategy! Thanks for sharing this awesome story about Mattie and thanks for your kind words about my book. Look forward to touching base soon!

  • Glad that you shared the same conclusions! Happy New Year to you, too!

  • Great addition to the discussion Tim. Thanks for taking the time to comment on {grow}!

  • There is definitely a huge difference between people who have different opinions and trolls who only wish to instill conflict. As a matter of fact, I judge a good blog site such as this one or others like by the diversity of the opinions in the comment section. I don’t want to exist in an echo chamber but at the same time I don’t want to hang in a place online that is completely unregulated. A good blog or site will nurture a community that will police itself. Happy new year!!

  • Thanks for being a regular contributor here Abdallah!

  • geofflivingston

    One word for this: Unsubscribe. Meaning unsubscribe from those consistently negative voices. I find this makes my experience a lot better.

  • Couldn’t agree more. Had an influential person in my network who only engaged with me when he wanted to debate something I’d just said. Although he was an A-lister and very nice to many other folks, his default, with me for whatever reason, was “total prick.” So I blocked him (something I generally reserve for spam). Perhaps that move may come back to haunt me. But I wouldn’t trade the peaceful calm the act of pushing that button gave me for all of the influence in the world.

  • Amen brother. The social web’s best utility : )

  • A blog is not a democracy and you exerted your will and power appropriately. Unless this person is bringing you clients, I don;t see the downside : )

  • Joe Mamma

    What a laugh!

  • I’m totally on board with this idea! Diversity is good but haters just drag the conversation down. It’s funny how such a simple action is so overlooked. Instead of dwelling in the drama, just move to a better spot. Unfollow, unfriend and surround yourself with only the best!

  • RogierNoort

    Wow.., this post makes me think (more) about last year. It has been a wonderful ride where I met new people and made new relationships. Not anything negative thus far, which is good.
    For the coming year I intend to solidify the relations already started, shake some hands (meaning meeting some of those people for real) and to grow this even further through social media….

    So far so good…

  • tianakai

    Can’t we all just get along? I completely agree. I have seen tweeters b*tch too much at times, where I feel like just calling them out on it. Some I have unfollowed and a few I keep on since sometimes they may have something decent to say and share and interact with me and others close to me. Maybe our silence keeps them going?

  • Caught this last week, finally getting around to commenting … HNY Mark. Two things you mentioned mark the point of social to me: Control and Challenge.

    1) Control, as in mine. It’s my list, my follows and followers, my time and how I choose to use it. If I waste effort and care on things that don’t matter, if I let negative or hate get to me.. it’s all on me for following, not unfollowing or giving a damn in the first place. 2) Challenge. It’s not about surrounding yourself with sycophants and asskissers, a greek chorus to tell you how brilliant you are or that it’s all rainbow sprinkles and unicorns. It’s about you and how you want to be; I want to learn, to grow, to see other things. That means mixing it up, adding some diversity even if a little down or negative once in a while.

    As more 2013 .. same plan as always, just being better and smarter about it. FWIW.

  • As lots of good people teach us (you included Mark), surround ourselves with positive & motivational people. This applies to our social media world as well. I like your phrase Mark – purge those who don’t fit this category.

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