Techno Moderation

Digital appearances can be deceiving, too

Commentary

Luis Almeida
Posted 12/2/18

Its virtually impossible to really know what people are up to based on what they post on Twitter. In this column, I will explain to you why this is true with a touch of Dr. A’s …

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Techno Moderation

Digital appearances can be deceiving, too

Commentary

Posted

Its virtually impossible to really know what people are up to based on what they post on Twitter. In this column, I will explain to you why this is true with a touch of Dr. A’s personality. 

Let’s get real. People use a mask in public and in cyberspace. If a person is sharing happy-looking pictures on Instagram all the time, chances are they are sad, not happy, most — if not all — the time. People often share the opposite of what they are really thinking. People may even compensate for being sad by posting happy content.

Let me give you another example. If a person decides to engage in a rant conversation with a colleague or a friend online, chances are that this person is probably afraid to engage in a face-to-face conversation with somebody. As you, I and all the Tennessee Titans fans know, most people put on a mask when they behave in public.

Do you think that Facebook is any different? Please. 

We all know that, don’t we? Why pretend then? Or assume one thing and ignore what we know about how we typically behave in public?

Listen to Dr. A: Who cares what people think of you on Facebook? You must live your life and make these social media networks subordinate to you. You won’t gain anything by playing Nostradamus based on what people post on Instagram. The only thing you will gain are the headaches of gossip which is an activity condemned by God. 

 Let’s get real. How do you really know what people are feeling or thinking if intonations and variations in voice pitch, for example, aren’t being shared in social media posts anyway? See why it isn’t possible to guess who people really are online?

Look, there are so many ways a person can misinterpret another person’s message on Instagram it isn’t even funny. Which body language is a person using when they “communicate” with you on LinkedIn? Well, we don’t really know, do we? It is only by speaking face-to-face with somebody that you can be sure of what they are trying to communicate to you and others. I’m convinced of that. 

There are so many people today investigating others' Facebook accounts these days and forming opinions about them based on what they post on a blog without having a clue about what their true intent for posting that piece of content was.

It’s an epidemic. It is such a common practice that I have a micro system that checks who is actually looking at my profile on a daily basis. I’m watching you!  

It isn’t easy to “know” who people are simply by sneakily going to a person’s Facebook page and analyzing what they post. People may have an idea who the person is, or may be, but I’m doubtful that a person can really know who people truly are by doing a content analysis of what people share online. 

People post content for different reasons. One of my buddies in Brazil shares jokes on a daily basis on his Facebook page. Does this behavior make him a social media clown? I don’t think so, because I know him better.

Remember: Not everything you see is what it seems. Social media isn’t any different. Just because a person posts too many times on Facebook doesn’t mean that he or she is self-centered. Maybe they are sharing more content because their parents want to see more photos of their children on their wall. Perhaps people don’t post as much because they hate technology. Maybe they made a vow to technomoderate that year. How can people really know, right? 

Be careful with assumptions. They tend to backfire. I honestly don’t think that anybody can truly guess who people are online without knowing who they are offline. People can try, but they will fall short.

The complexities of communication and human behavior can’t be diminished to a level of perishable machinery.  We are humans! We are living systems!

Knowing how people really are is dependent on other variables not found in cyberspace, and that’s a fact. 

———

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info.)

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