Reflections on social sourness

So last week became one of the most fascinating experiences I guess I’ll ever have on the blog.

I was calling out the ease at which being present on social media gets confused with being a forward thinking progressive practitioner.


When you have a community you’re tapped into – DO NOT CALL THEM FAKERS.

They don’t like it. I insulted quite a few folk. I had a fair few agree with what I was saying. I had more railing against the post and proving to me how social made a real difference in their lives.

If you’re gonna do it, you need to have a ready fitted suit of armour waiting, and a whole lot of patience and empathy in hand. It’s tiring, and I was exhausted two days later still reeling from the effects of what I wrote. Not because of what I wrote, but because of the ongoing conversations.

Here’s some of the suggestions and reactions I had because of the post:

“Take a break from writing for a while till you’re feeling better.”

“Maybe you’re in a bad mood.”

“Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?”

“Who are you actually referring to in this post?”

I accept my delivery wasn’t palatable.

What has certainly been interesting is the reaction. It’s almost as if the reaction was more against me than what I wrote. That is, people know my writing and thereby get a sense of who I am and what I stand for. And then there I am calling social media a pile of nonsense with no real benefit for practitioners. This went against my perceived MO.

It’s like people thought I was writing about them personally.

I get it yo. It’s my thing as well as it is your thing. I live and breathe my social media life just as much as my non-digital life. To be told it’s all for nought is a big ol’ pile of wank.

What’s further interesting is suddenly people think I’m against sharing and positive supportive commenting based on your social presence.

Erm, what?

Seriously people, I wrote something based on my observations. It created a set of polarisation I’ve not directly experienced before.

Does this suddenly mean I no longer believe in the value of social media?

Most certainly not. It means I can be critical of the thing I value so much, and carry on because that’s all I was doing.

But if anything it has strengthened a resolve for me.

Ideas and opinions are all well and good provided they have a basis or help push thinking and action forwards.

But for me, the sharing of practise is what helps people get creative and innovative. They hear and see how something has or hasn’t worked, and can decide on making things happen in the way that makes sense to them.

So here on out I’m gonna be more mindful about the knowledge I share, my practise and what it informs.

Also, what is absolutely fascinating for anyone interested in the whole ‘social learning’ argument, is that in that post was essentially outlined why social learning is the thing to embrace in organisations.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

11 thoughts on “Reflections on social sourness”

  1. Sukh, I didn’t comment originally as it didn’t feel like you so we exchanged a few DMs. It didn’t feel genuine. Not that you didn’t believe the point (or have a valid criticism) but the way it was expressed simply wasn’t as constructive as your normal posts. People do tend to think you are writing about them if you use generally negative terms that can readily be applied to them as a group – or if you address them directly as a writer. That shouldn’t be puzzling and it isn’t them being overly sensitive – that makes sense. If I walk into a bar and say ‘you are all idiots, but it’s OK, I am too’ I expect people to think I’m talking to them and take offence.

    I admire your ability to be critical of the things you care about – but constructive criticism was easily possible without the offense and the unhelpful polarisation. If you had just done this – > “I was calling out the ease at which being present on social media gets confused with being a forward thinking progressive practitioner” then I don’t think you would have got much dissent. Tone and language can mask soundness of arguments as much as rhetoric can enhance the appeal of them. I think the more subtle and valid was lost in the drama.

    As for the post (and reaction) illustrating the importance of social learning… aside from you, who do you think will do things significantly differently as a result? And I think you knew what was coming so I’m not sure how much has changed for you.

  2. Hi Sukh

    I appreciated your previous post for the fact that it got me thinking. Case in point for social learning right?

    I reflect on the presentation that I mentioned whereby I told a group of L&D professionals that, basically, their roles were not going to be relevant in the future. Well, not in the way that they think anyway.

    I told them that the great things they thought they were doing were not what they thought they were but a re-invention of old methods. That they weren’t’ really changing anything, they just seemed to think they were.

    They’re fake.

    But unless someone calls it out, how do we change?

    How do we make someone uncomfortable enough to think? But not so uncomfortable that they don’t want to do anything about it?

    Anyway, good blog. You’ve made me pay more attention 🙂


  3. I’m really interested that you found the aftermath draining. From volume or from content? Or from both? And I’m mostly interested because, if it was emotionally draining, I wonder whether you were taking people’s comments personally in return? Which echoes why they took it personally in the first place.

    I think your point behind your last post was the right one – to get people thinking. Which it did. And which is fantastic and is what this stuff should be about.
    Do we need to do more of that? Probably.
    Will it make me think about the difference I hope to make through my posts and tweets? Yes.
    Was the way you wrote it completely off-brand for you? Yes.
    But would it have got the same attention and thought processes going if you hadn’t written it that way? Possibly not!
    But, the big question, what impact do you want to have?

    Intent usually shows through in how we are, what we say, how we write. For me, it was your out-of-character intent that felt uncomfortable – not the challenge.

  4. Hi Sukh. I’ve reflected a little too. And I guess what angered me about your writing last week was mainly:

    Your all encompassing accusation. If life has taught me anything, it is that everything is mixed feelings. Right and wrong, not right or wrong. The trouble is – saying some people are fakers and liars isn’t suitably outrageous, is it? I can read ‘some people’ and quickly excuse myself from the ensuing….whatever it is that ensues.

    Despite my earlier disagreement – thanks for last week’s post and this one too, learning to be had….for some at least 🙂

  5. I read your last week’s blog but didn’t drop any comment. However, I’m not surprised at the reactions it generated.

    I think its probably your choice of words that readers were uncomfortable with. The words underplayed the main essence of the blog – To get us us more effective in the field, to practicalise what we preach in our writings.

    There is a thin line between constructive criticism and abuse. Although, your intent was not to rubbish people’s effort and call them names, the ppst reflected that.

    The high point for me is that my future writings should reflect how I am positively changing the world of work rather than doling out prescriptions on the way to go for HR.

    I am sure the reactions you got have also provided you with another oppprtunity to learn. Never mind, learning new things is the only thing that is constant in life.

  6. Good post, and I think it makes your point much better than the last one.

    Being harsh and honest is fine and essential at times. However, I think if people want to make a point and be heard (really heard), they can’t get others to listen if they are unnecessarily harsh.

    In our non-digital lives we never get anywhere in a debate if we start shouting and accusing people of being liars and cheats! That is kind of what your previous post felt like – even if that wasn’t your intention.

    Nonetheless, it’s always a good way to raise a bone of contention and trigger a debate!

  7. HI Sukh, I didn’t comment on the original post and will confess not to have read the comments there either, as the last time this issue all kicked off it got very unpleasant and personal.

    What I found problematic about the first post was that I felt like it suggested a false dichotomy. Eg you were a faker wittering on in a fluffy social media world, or trying to change something. There didn’t feel to me like another option. On a personal level, I do a lot of wittering on twitter and my blog. I am also trying to change things. Not big stuff I will admit, just little things in my own organisation. I do a lot of ‘this’ about other people’s post, but only if I actually like them. I love blogging and bloggers. To me it is a constant source of ideas and challenges and I wish more people read them and wrote them.

    I will admit I dipped completely out of the conversation and deliberately didn’t read the comments or any other blog posts I am sure it generated, as I have in the past found them unhelpful.

    Anyone, anyone for a #hrcupcake?

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