Is social media making it easier to be rude?

I’m sure it’s a complaint we’ve heard before: The upcoming generations don’t know how to properly socialize because they are on a computer all day. Some say that public speaking is an issue because we are so used to typing, or we don’t know how to make friends in the real world because we spend so much time in the virtual one. Others roll their eyes because we can’t focus on one topic, much less one person, because we eat lunch while texting while scrolling through Pinterest while watching TV.

These are all topics worth considering, but one particular consequence of social media has been catching my attention lately: rudeness. It’s easier to be, for lack of a better word, mean, when you don’t have to look someone in the eye. Instead, people use the keyboard as their spear and the screen as their shield, and they go on the attack.

It’s a problem that has popped up on my news feed lately, and it has even appeared in the news.

Diana Mekota, a 26-year-old planning to move to Cleveland this summer, sent a LinkedIn request to Kelly Blazek, who runs an online job bank for marketing professionals in the city (2014). Mekota sent an email on February 19 with a request to join the jobs list, which has over 7,000 members. Blazek, a self-proclaimed “passionate advocate” for job-seekers, sent a reply shortly after.

It wasn’t pretty.

“Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky,” Blazek said in her email. “Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26-year-old jobseeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help them land a job.

“… I love the sense of entitlement in your generation,” she continued. “You’re welcome for your humility lesson for the year. Don’t ever reach out to senior practitioners again and assume their carefully curated list of connections is available to you, just because you want to build your network.”

So, it seems like being rude over social media is not just confined to the millennials.

After she composed herself, Mekota sent an apology email to Blazek explaining why she would dare try to use LinkedIn as a way to, you know, find links with other professionals. She also posted the emails on other social media platforms, and it soon went viral.

In case anyone is wondering, Blazek did issue an apology of her own, but for me this opens the window for a lot of different questions: Who, if anyone, is responsible for monitoring what happens on social media? At what point is a perpetrator supposed to issue an apology or “pay-up” for something he or she has done? In the case of Blazek and Mekota, that last point is a bit extreme, but it become extremely relevant in other cases such as cyber bullying.

Thoughts?

Resources:

Gross, D. (2014, Feb. 27) Nasty LinkedIn rejection goes viral. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/tech/web/linked-in-cleveland-job-bank/.

5 thoughts on “Is social media making it easier to be rude?

  1. This post poses a great question. While there can’t be any “internet” monitor, I think that standards of social conduct should follow some rules. Cyber bullying, in my opinion, is the cruelest form of bullying. People can hide behind screens and not have to see the impacts of their words.

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  2. I think social media definitely makes cyber bullying easier and its more apparent. Multiple stories have popped up on the news about cyber bullying and its impact on individuals. It may be impossible to monitor all social media sites, but something should be put in place in order to avoid this serious issue. As more and more social media platforms pop up, the number of cyber bullying stories will more than likely increase as well.

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  3. I think this goes beyond social media and the internet in general. It’s easier to have the urge to want to make someone mad or upset when they can’t associate it to a face. It’s easier to be rude when you’re hiding behind a computer screen and the person can’t harm you when they don’t know where you live and sometimes are even halfway across the world. The internet has opened us to a completely new and harsh culture. The lack of regulation that exists on the internet is both good and bad. Great because we have the freedom to access and say whatever we please, but it can be bad because people are also free to say or do things that may not ordinarily be socially acceptable in real life.

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  4. How unprofessional and inconsiderate of Blazek to say that to Mekota. As a businesswoman and professional in the marketing world, you would think she would be “up-to-date” within the networking world. She could have handled this situation in a more civilized manner. A quick response such as, “We are currently not looking for any employees at our company”, would have been suitable. Show some compassion, will ya?

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  5. I agree with all of the comments made so far and would like to add that although this article addresses cyber bullying at an adult level, I think it is much more prevalent (and oftentimes more damaging) to younger individuals. Classmates who take their bullying to the internet set up a whole different dynamic that makes it much harder for adults to step in. While the evidence may be more clear online (the evidence of an internet ‘paper trail’), the consequences are often sidelined by privacy issues. In cyber bullying, then, privacy v. safety becomes a major concern.

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