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What About Social Media & Hazardous Waste?

After many years of sitting on the sidelines of our publishing platform, I’m very pleased to now launch my own Column, entirely focused on brief,  casual commentary and observations under the umbrella of “slice of life” perspectives. Why the above image? Well, we chose it to set the stage for light-hearted discussion where we don’t take everything too seriously. No rhyme or reason or underlying quest here – just my way of sharing thoughts and (hopefully) engaging directly with each of you. Each step of the way, I invite you to “Ponder” along with me. 

The sound of a siren increased to an ear-piercing level as the emergency vehicle sped by. Its flashing lights glared through my windshield, illuminating the words “hazardous waste” printed on the side of the truck. No doubt it was racing to the scene of an accidental spill in hopes of containing the damage and protecting the local residents from harm. Not long after this episode, I began to wonder just how many hazardous waste leaks happen around us every day, in the form of “harsh or critical” words encountered on social media. Without question, there appears to be a lot of “negative bias” out there, as mentioned within a recent article by Melissa Hughes; Pass the Turkey, Survive the Politics.

All of this caused me to ponder a few questions, starting with – What would happen if sirens blared every time a harsh or critical word “leaked” out of someone’s mouth via their social media stream?

  • Am I wrong to suspect that it might become rather noisy around us all these days?
  • Is it true that so many topics are “off-limits” because our society is so polarized that a civil, constructive, open-minded conversation is impossible? Is this why social media engagement has continued on a steep decline in recent years?
  • Are folks generally respectful & constructive or just the opposite?
  • Is it true that people are bolder and braver via their keyboard versus up close and personal?
  • What have you experienced?

Ponder the above along with me for just a moment. And then please take a moment to share your thoughts below …

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Dennis Pitocco
Dennis Pitoccohttps://www.bizcatalyst360.com/
DENNIS is the Founder & Chief ReImaginator of 360° Nation, encompassing a wide range of multimedia enterprises, including BizCatalyst 360° —the award-winning global media digest; 360° Nation Studios —dedicated to reaching across the world in an effort to capture, produce, and deliver positive, uplifting messages via blockbuster global events, and; GoodWorks 360° —a pro-bono consulting foundation focused entirely on providing mission-critical advisory services to nonprofits worldwide. Collaborating with his Chief Inspiration Officer (and wife), Ali, everything they do is "for-good" vs. "for-profit". Their mission over the past decade-plus has been to rediscover humanity at its best, influencing and showcasing it every step of the way. Together, they do their very best to figure out what the world is trying to be —then using all their resources to help it to be better every day in every way. They understand and embrace the notion that it’s not about me or you; it’s about caring for the people we serve and more responsibly stewarding the precious resources in our care. And they believe it’s about showing up, being present, and intentionally giving our invaluable gifts of time, talent, and treasure "for good". Dennis is a contributing author to the Best-Selling Books ♦ Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational ChangeJourney Well, You Are More Than EnoughThe Four-Fold Formula For All Things Wellness: True Stories of the Heart, Spirit, Mind, and Body.

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17 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Always good to first give grace to all and to not engage your tongue before you engage your brain. As a police officer I used the code 3 (lights and siren response) on countless occasions when this sage advice was not practiced and blood was spilled (also a hazmat environment too be sure) and the bodies were carted off to the ER or to the morgue as other bodies were booked into jail.

    Keep “A pondering” my brother!

  2. Virtual squares have taken the place of real ones, creating parallel universes in which people live and compare, not always peacefully. The Network offers great opportunities for friendship, dialogue and cultural exchange. But it also involves some risks: from the possibility of spreading false news to the growth of dangerous phenomena such as hate speech and cyberbullying, especially among the most fragile and defenseless young people.
    I always wonder why so many people don’t use their intelligence for a useful use of social media.
    When I was a boy and wanted to say something or meet a friend I had to leave the house, go to his address and finally we could talk, be together. Today we can “hang out” with people in more distant countries, talk with them amicably, exchange cultures, information, ideas, discover new interests, live ways, open our minds, give birth also to a true friendship if we are authentic, educated, supportive. Social media can build our credibility, they can bring quality relationships, they make us use our time smarter, we learn something, ultimately, they can make us feel better and better. More irony and positive stories; more training. Why waste the utility to disseminate hatred that creates nothing?
    As Pope Francis has pointed out, communication must be an instrument to build, not to destroy; to meet, not to clash; to dialogue, not to monologize; to orient, not to disorient; to understand each other, not to misunderstand; to walk in peace, not to sow hatred; to give voice to those who have no voice, not to be the megaphone for those who shout louder.

    • Wonderful commentary here Aldo, as usual. Absolutely love your statement; “I always wonder why so many people don’t use their intelligence for a useful use of social media,” followed by your quote from Pope Francis. All things considered, it really is as simple as you’ve described – if only common sense, understanding and maturity prevailed as the norm… Thanks for weighing in, my friend!

    • I’m really happy that you share my thoughts. It would be enough to use a little common sense to understand that hatred ratuito leads to nothing and that constructive dialogue can make everyone grow, without distinction.
      Thanks for your consideration.

  3. Hi Dennis! I think this platform you have created is a wonderful idea. Light conversation is a welcoming invitation. My thoughts to your questions are I think that most people are descent and civil about most matters but they are not the ones most likely to start a conversation on social media. I know, I’ve tried. My first impression is that quiet conversations get drowned out by the more confrontational ones. We are almost invisible. I think the biggest problem with social media is there is little if any accountability for outrageous claims and lies. Even when they are addressed the damage is already done. When advertising took over this medium it went the way that most media has gone. We are seeing the results of what I call clash culture where everything has gone to extremes. It is my hope that we can get back to talking with each other rather than yelling. There are many enriching conversations to be had that can birth resolutions to our everyday problems if we give this a try. Thanks for doing this.

    • Your comments are “spot on” as they say across the pond, Helen. We join you in hope that we can simply get back to talking with each other – respectfully, thoughtfully and as often as possible, absent devices so that we can be present to actually listen intentionally. It’s folk like you that make our job easier by setting the stage with your extraordinary writing and your very thoughtful engagement, and for that we are grateful.

  4. Great topic Dennis, I love it. And I love that people have come here to discuss, to offer their perspectives, and to try not to assign negative motivations to anyone else. As a general rule, I have abstained from any type of political discussions anywhere on social media. It’s too easy to misunderstand and then pigeonhole someone and relegate them into a box of some sort. I love your questions. I love this topic. In the footsteps of the venerable Mr. O’Brien, I shall attempt to take a whack of at your questions…

    * Am I wrong to suspect that it might become rather noisy around us all these days?
    Noise is ok, it’s the vehemence and the assigning of evil motives or the disregard of civility that can bring an increase in the blood pressure that I find suckful.

    * Is it true that so many topics are “off-limits” because our society is so polarized that a civil, constructive, open-minded conversation is impossible? Is this why social media engagement has continued on a steep decline in recent years?
    Yes, to a certain extent. Maybe not impossible, but harder to achieve. Polite discourse has been abandoned in the face of flaming retorts and scorched earth. There are too many people contorting themselves to the point of dislocating body parts just so that they can feel offended or outraged by the lamest and tamest of comments.

    * Are folks generally respectful & constructive or just the opposite?
    Yes, most are respectful and constructive and helpful and generous, and that is why I continue to engage. Too often the lion’s share of attention and bandwidth is given over to the lout and the idiot and ALL CAPS talker and the those who fling exclamation points without any clue as to what they are offended about.

    * Is it true that people are bolder and braver via their keyboard versus up close and personal?
    Without question, the keyboard and the motorized vehicle give certain people the idea that they are fierce and mighty and fearless and privileged. Knowledge of how they work does not equate with the capability of using them wisely or to their credit and the betterment of public in general. Too often I sign out and shut off with elevated pulse and a clenched jaw, and that’s merely from reading comments. I partake of that less and less, and have found excellent replacements.

    *What have you experienced?
    I have met some of the best people in the world, some of the smartest, most generous, friendliest, loveliest people that anyone could hope to encounter. People like you, Dennis, and others who partake of this excellent platform. I met a treasure trove of marvelous people whom I encountered through LinkedIn in Denver in February 2018 at Sarah Elkins’ No Longer Virtual conference, to which I am eternally thankful for her for starting. I look to expand that horizon of lovely people next March at the next incarnation in Chicago. Everyone encounters trolls and haters and the ones that make us want to walk away for good, but by and large, social media has been such a gift that I have no capacity to express how wonderful it has been for me.

    Great minds think alike, Dennis, I had been germinating a similar discussion regarding the freedom of expression. It shall be seen more widely shortly. Thank you for this addition to the public square.

    • Your response Tom – coupled with that from Len, Mark & Aaron validates the fact that the burgeoning ”void” created by negative bias can and will be filled via a return to real people discussing real issues and forming real relationship along the way – many of which soon grow into deep friendships. We believe that it is precisely the skeptical/cynical climate surrounding us all that is serving as the impetus for those returning to/in search of real engagement. And it is precisely because of this burgeoning group of “kindred spirits” like you and so many others that we will continue to expand this discussion and the amazing “conscious community” expanding around us. Ps. Very pleased to hear that you’ll be back to NLV in Chicago, as I am thrilled to say that I’ll be joining you and the rest of folks there who will no longer be virtual!

  5. MARK OBRIEN – FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, YOUR COMMENT DOESN’T APPEAR SO WE’ VE REPOSTED IT HERE:

    Dennis, your piece is thought-provoking and provocative. I’m tempted to write a diatribe about the fact that as special interests increase (ostensible manifestations of tolerance), the thickness of our skin decreases (inexorable and ever-more militant intolerance). I won’t. But I will respond to each of your questions in order:

    • Am I wrong to suspect that it might become rather noisy around us all these days?

    You’re not wrong, and it will get much worse before it gets any better.

    • Is it true that so many topics are “off-limits” because our society is so polarized that a civil, constructive, open-minded conversation is impossible?

    Yes. And that polarization will increase as we continue to splinter everything into ever-finer choices between this (compliance with the demands of any special interest) and that (noncompliance with those demands).

    • Is this why social media engagement has continued on a steep decline in recent years?

    Yes. It’s why the nature and content of social-media engagement continues to decline.

    • Are folks generally respectful & constructive or just the opposite?

    Every stereotype breaks down at the level of the individual. Individually, folks are generally respectful and constructive. To the extent to which they subscribe to identity politics and groupthink, not so much.

    • Is it true that people are bolder and braver via their keyboard versus up close and personal?

    Yes.

    • What have you experienced?

    All of the above.

    I hope the mere fact that you’ve initiated this conversation will put us back on a track toward

    • With apologies for whatever tech glitch caused your comment to disappear, we’ve reposted it above, Mark…

      Your thoughtful answers to each of my questions certainly (and unfortunately) corroborate our suspicions. We’ve done considerable research on the notion of declining social media engagement and for a while, many attributed it to “social media overload” which is partly true. In recent times though, “negative bias” has taken the lead as the primary culprit, with many people simply retreating from social media. Not a bad thing entirely if those same folks reinvest their energies in being present for real (constructive) conversations around the table. However; social media is here to stay, so perhaps the best way to beat the “negative trollers” is to simply continue to set the standard by expanding our growing community with kindred spirits such as you and so many others that have joined the march towards bringing “respectful” social back to social media. Thanks for weighing in Mark…

    • Thank you, Dennis. The glitch may have been due to an email error on my part. This reply will prove or refute that hypothesis.

      I believe in the cyclical nature of everything. (For example, I find it fascinating that people in Hong Kong are citing the United States as exemplary and flying our flag, while we here in the States are abandoning the individual liberties for which Hong Kong is fighting to ignorance, entitlement, and complacency. I just hope the wheel turns before we’ve lost them all.) So, I do expect this cycle of incivility to abate as our better natures prevail. Whether and/or by what means that actually transpires remains to be seen.

    • We’re hopeful that this is indeed a “cyclical” issue, as we’re also sensing a growing demand for a return to good old-fashioned, thoughtful engagement… Stay tuned – thanks again for your insights, Mark.

    • Interesting thoughts Dennis (I still have yet to reset my password)… Anyway, I don’t have any bold theories to put forth here, as my thinking would be long on the tooth. I’ll say that a few weeks ago I posted an abstract poem on LinkedIn. I prefaced my work by telling readers that if it wasn’t their cup of tea to simply pass. Instead my work was critically savaged by an editor who took it upon themselves to point out what she perceived as flaws. I didn’t ask for an editor, no less a rude idiot who totally misunderstood the root of the poem. Her square-shaped mind couldn’t handle the concept of abstract expression in literature. Evidently the term “abstract” is only allowed in art and painting… but I digress. My point is that she didn’t understand the invisible boundaries that most people seem to respect on social media. I see this boundary trampled frequently, especially when it comes to political content. I myself still have a quick trigger to make bold comments on occasion, but I try so hard to just walk away. Political trolling generates traffic, and it’s akin to placing a hunk of cheese on a mouse trap. You get your fingers snapped and nobody gains any wisdom or truth, only aggravation and division. I could go down a million rabbit holes with this, but let’s just say there are no boundaries on social media because they are trampled by fools… myself include from time to time… But once you discover a tribe of like-minded souls, it becomes easier to resist the temptation. And so here we are, all of us trying to circumnavigate our tendencies to stand for something or prove a point against a perceived adversary. It seems you’re either a Trump or Hillary supporter and there is no longer a place for reason or civility. Resisting the bait has become a very difficult tightrope to master… Anyway, so much for brevity. Perhaps this topic will be something to ponder in my next article…

    • Quite frankly, Aaron – you captured the essence of our ongoing observations better than we could… I suppose that brings us right back to our predisposition for “negative bias” as eloquently put forth by Melinda in her article referenced within ours. And it also brings us back to overcoming all the negativity and “editorial savagery” out there, by intentionally moving forward (versus joining those who’ve retreated) with our brand of social media engagement. Thoughtful. Constructive. Nonjudgemental. And often, the right words and the right time to rally around folks who simply need a few kind words and something as priceless as moral support. Thanks for adding real value here…

  6. First, so glad you have thrown your hat in the ring to provide a regular column. You have supported the authors on this forum for so long and now we can support you. And a great topic to get us started. Since my social media interaction is with LinkedIn and BC360, I have not seen much of the ugliness we hear about. It is truly unfortunate the people feel they can “troll” other and since they never interact on a personal – eye to eye – basis, they feel they can be as mean as they want.

    My biggest concern is the over sensitivity that has become a “cause”. It seems the saying “Good Morning” can get you in trouble because “…you are forcing your views of morning on me – I shouldn’t have to have a good one because you said so.”

    Lighten up – enjoy life – laugh. It will makes difference and you will be happier.

    As I say others, welcome to the BC360 family of authors where engagement is respectful and friendships are established.

    • Thanks, Len – as you know, we always put our writers first, so my columns will be infrequent, but focused on topical trends, such as this particular subject, as it’s so closely related to our “wheelhouse” as they say. We are indeed very fortunate to have attracted a great “conscious community” of followers on our Site and indeed, across our social media channels – a rare commodity these days, but one that we treasure. Trolls continue to run rampant across social media as a whole and from what we read, they have played a big part in chasing good people away from the good that is also resident. A sad commentary on our times. Thanks for always stepping up, my friend!

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