My eighteen year old nephew recently asked me, “What did everyone do before social media was invented?” I laughed at first and then felt a little bit of sadness. I thought about it for a while and said, “We did the same things, but were forced to be more creative, more resourceful and more focused than we are now. And the best thing about that was the lack of input from others.”
I am a solid GenX guy. I listened to Pearl Jam in college and I remember when it wasn’t cool to have both backpack straps over your shoulders at the same time. But also as a GenX’er, I grew up without the internet and started my career with the internet. That half-in half-out perspective is unique. I see the stark differences and they are very tangible. The most tangible ones are what I like to call ‘the unnecessary share’ and ‘the share too soon.’ Both of these invite feedback, which by all accounts is precisely the reason they exist. The problem is this – by seeking affirmation and the associated dopamine hit when your post reaches 1000 likes, you open your world to feedback that can affect your perspective. So here are four reasons to ignore unsolicited feedback on social media and in life.
- The person giving you feedback is most likely unqualified– There is a really good reason why I seek advice from a mentor. That person has more experience than I have and has a genuine desire to help me succeed. An unqualified person providing feedback is ignorant of how you define success and lacking in the skills to achieve what you are attempting.
- The person giving you feedback is inherently biased – Motive is a powerful bias. This person may think they are helping, but their motive is to have you alter your plan based on how theywould execute it. How could that person provide objective feedback without knowing the results of your previous efforts, your available resources and the entirety of your plan, not just this part of it?
- The person giving you the feedback blames all their struggles on external variables – Here is where I could likely type seventeen more pages, but I will keep it short. Nothing is more pervasive online than people looking for someone to blame. Post a pic of you new car and you’re immediately chastised for destroying the environment. Post a pic of your hamburger for lunch and the cow farms that supplied the beef are causing global warming. Post a pic of yourself with a couple of co-workers and you’re either lacking diversity or virtue signaling. People who blame others for their plight will always fail and point at you as the reason why.
- The person giving the feedback is threatened by your success or the possibility of it– For the most part successful people work hard to help others succeed. However, there are many successful people who are so insecure about their ability to stay on top that they belittle and condescend the efforts of others who share their ambition. For the record, this is the one that would likely get you smacked in the mouth where I grew up. Anyone whose self-perception is so fragile that they can only feel strong by criticizing others deserves to be taken down a notch. Either way, never feed into their negativity; that’s exactly what they want.
If you are guilty of ‘the unnecessary share’ or ‘the share too soon’ consider exercising restraint. If you genuinely just need a dopamine hit try posting a cute pic of your kids or your pet, but only if it’s a rescue. Otherwise some blow-hard will criticize you for perpetuating puppy mills.
Tra Williams is a celebrated speaker, business consultant and author of the forthcoming book Feed Your Unicorn. He is a nationally recognized thought leader in small business, franchising, leadership and entrepreneurship. Tra works tirelessly with people, professionals, and organizations to help them define success on their own terms and build the framework required to sustain it. For more information, please visit: www.TraWilliams.com.