Do you read the comments in posts on Facebook?
Next time you do, I encourage you to take a moment and tally up positive comments vs negative comments – and not JUST on SLP posts…but in normal everyday posts. The last time I did this, the negative comments far outweighed the positive ones.
Now, have you ever considered what impact your words have on others?
I don’t mean the impact your words have in therapy, or even in your house with your family and friends, but out in the world, in social media…in life.
Whether we like to think about it or not, the little things we say and do may have lasting, life-long interactions (both positive and negative).
When I first started communicating with other SLPs on social media (about 10 years ago now), there were only a few of us on twitter. We built a huge community of people who built each other up, answered questions, asked questions, and generally offered support in what is often, a challenging career. We laughed with each other, several of us cried with each other, and we shared. The #SLPeeps on twitter were born in February 2010, and from there the SLPeeps Facebook group was started. Lifelong friendships, or at least friendly acquaintances, were formed.
Recently I was listening to a podcast from Xceptional Leaders and I was slapped in the face with just how obtuse we can be about the impact small things have on how we connect with people and just how blind we are to how others see us.
You see, in this podcast, Mai Ling Chan talks about who has impacted her and her life goals the most. She talks about big entrepreneurial names and she talks about small, chance connections that created a life-long effect. The discussion in the podcast made me really think about how the little things we do can make huge differences (much like speech-therapy).
I’ve left several professional groups on facebook. I left not because the content isn’t fabulous, but because the comments posted by my colleagues are so damaging and mean. We no longer build each other up and help them out. We don’t seem to be fostering an air of camaraderie and helpfulness. (note: this is generalities not specifics…there are some posts that are positive still…they’re just outnumbered)
I watch my students and consider not only what kind of SLP they will become as they grow, but what kind of person they will become as they learn and grow and are immersed in this world of social media. I wonder what their reaction is to some of the hate and vitriol I read in the SLP groups. I look at how they interact with each other and wonder how that presence will translate on social media…and perhaps, most importantly, I look at my behavior with them.
Am I building them up? Or am I, in my quest to make them good SLPs, damaging fragile egos and mindsets and making them question themselves more than what is healthy? Am I adding to damage done inadvertently by my colleagues? Are my colleagues trying to repair the damage I’ve accidentally done?
Recently, a student disclosed that she was disheartened to see her role models acting so unprofessionally. When I asked what she meant, she said that students view ALL SLP professionals as role models. That made me stop and think for a minute, I hadn’t realized that I was viewed as a role model by anyone other than perhaps my daughter (and that’s fleeting these days! LOL).
Our words and actions, even when interacting with people we don’t know (or barely know) can make a world of difference for a person. Our online presence can change someone’s world…that’s an incredible responsibility.
I quit reading the comments on the FB posts a long time ago, in large part because they were changing how I interacted with people and my perception of my fellow SLPs. I’m fairly sure most of them are great people with hearts of gold…but that is NOT what it came across as. Listening to the podcast made me really consider what I want people to think of me and how I want to be perceived. It’s made me reconsider my actions as an instructor, a clinical educator, and as an individual on social media.
Have you considered how you’re viewed on social media? What connections you’ve fostered or alienated with a brief word or two? If so, leave me a comment here (I promise I will read these)…
Until then…Adventure on!