The last blog I wrote was about avoiding social media faux pas.
A couple of days ago, I came across this gem of a comment, and it’s just too close to illustrating my point that really, I’d be selfish not to share it, right?
Allow me to introduce you to the wisdom of a person who shall heretofore be known forever more as “Barf Boy”.
Now, I will readily and gleefully admit to being a kill joy feminist. In fact, that may even be my first tattoo. And I’m happy to announce this on LinkedIn because it’s one of the cornerstones of my business. Social media is a powerful tool for sharing different stories and for driving change.
I actively search for stories that are different to mine. Of course, I’ve experienced bias due to the fact that I own a set of ovaries. But my experience is *nothing* compared to women who do not have the white, middle class, privately educated background that I do.
So, I seek out these women’s stories, because if I’ve had a tricky time being heard, f*** knows how hard it’s been for them. I want to educate myself about their experiences and world views as much as I can, so I can listen with empathy and an open mind, rather than play a game of “my life is harder than yours because I got cat called that one time”.
So, with this intention in the forefront of my mind, I started following a page called The Female Lead, after it cropped up in my news feed.
Female? That’s me!
Lead? I’m definitely here to support female leaders.
Getting women into spaces that have historically been occupied by men (hello, White House) has been a huge focus of fourth wave feminism. There are many initiatives to get girls into STEM subjects & careers, and all those industries that our pesky emotions and unruly hormones have previously barred us from.
So, how does Barf Boy fit into this?
It all begins with an aspirational (yes, I know “this is LinkedIn, not Facebook,” but frankly the message is so damn on brand that I’d be happy if they spray painted it across the moon) post by The Female Lead.
This outrageous post simply says, “I want to find a way to teach every young girl that the first person she should fall in love with should be herself.”
Ugh, how sentimental. How *emotional*. How feminine etc, etc.
And how on point. I’ll bet you that that message will strike a chord in every woman with internet access, because it’s a lesson that is hard learned.
A tough lesson
It’s taken me the best part of three decades (six years of which were spent with a highly abusive asshat) to learn this lesson. It’s been HARD to learn, and there are people who still try to get me to unlearn it.
Damn right I want every young girl to love herself first. Ovaries before Brovaries and all that.
The above is a freaking DIAMOND of a social media post. I mean, just look – it’s boosted me to share a bit of my story with you. It’s sure to start some conversations.
At the time of writing, this post has 177 comments, and 722 reactions.
That’s what you want your social media to do! It’s about sharing your message, not increasing your bank balance.
In my delight at seeing this message shared, I forgot one of the rules of feminism: beware the comments. Here be monsters.
Enter, Barf Boy
That’s where I found Barf Boy. His one and only contribution to this post was the comment: Barf 🤢
I’m bowled over by this display of searing intellect. Be still, my raging hormones – yes, you’ve just met the future father of our children.
So, why was this such a faux pas?
Barf Boy was only expressing his opinion, right? It’s still a free country, isn’t it?
Yes, of course it is. Barf Boy has every right to his opinion. But this perhaps was NOT the place to share it.
LinkedIn is, first and foremost, a business platform.
When you leave a comment that trivialises the experiences of 50 percent of the world’s population, you’ve cut off your opportunity to potentially do business with that huge group of consumers (with a spending power to the tune of a projected $24 TRILLION globally, pre Coronavirus lockdown).
You are showing contempt for half of the human race. I’m pretty sure that “negging” is not a valid business strategy.
We use LinkedIn as a platform for finding and engaging referral partners.
This falls back to the old adage of “Know, Like, Trust”.
✨ We don’t tend to recommend the services of complete strangers – if it goes wrong, our own credibility comes into question.
✨ We don’t recommend the services of people we don’t like. Think about it – why would you go above and beyond to promote someone with whom you have nothing in common, no shared values, and nothing that links you beyond the fact that we all rather enjoy oxygen.
✨ Trust is a highly subjective thing, and it’s really hard to trust someone that you don’t like. And recommending that other people trust a person or business for themselves when you wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole will only bring your own trustworthiness under scrutiny.
The momentary high of leaving a controversial comment on a business network will not be worth the fallout of lost business.
Keep your “down with this sort of thing” sentiments for your diary.
Because really, there shouldn’t be any space for it on LinkedIn.