The Power of Silence on Social Media

Photo by Taras Chernus on Unsplash

I jotted this title idea down months and months and months ago - then forgot about it.  Today I found myself perusing story ideas in my draft file and it stood out.  As I was attending a two hour writing lab a few hours later, it seemed a good one to add to my list.  I am so glad I did.

Just looking at the title again brought me right back to what inspired it all those months ago - the enormous amount of attention negative stories receive compared to the little attention positive stories garner. It is way out of proportion. We say we hate the negative news and yet seem to be drawn to it like moths to a flame when it focuses on tragedy, riots, death, disruption and more, while positive stories get little air time or support.

I want to start with a bit of what I do believe. Social media has power to create change. Social media can give a platform for voices to be heard that might otherwise be muted. A social media campaign that comes together for the good of others, or to write a wrong, can be powerful.  Sometimes that same power is used in a harmful way. Silence on social media can also have great power. 

What drives a story on social media is numbers - likes, views, shares and comments. The higher those numbers go, the wider the voice of the story's author is taken.  It works that way whether a story is for the good of society or whether it is driven by hate and misinformation.  The playing field is even for both sides.

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

I have seen powerful stories die on the vine when no one shares them.  I have also seen inaccurate information, and what can only be described as hate propaganda, reach viral status because of the furor they create.  It is these facts that give rise to the idea of using silence as an anti-hate, anti-misinformation weapon.

Instead of jumping on board and sharing the links to something you feel is truly negative, or posting your righteous indignation in their comments - how about silence?  How about giving the post no views, no likes, no dislikes, no shares to express your rage?  How about cutting off the source at the root that feeds them - attention? And let their numbers be so insignificance their post garners no attention. Let their numbers be insignificance.  This concept truly calls me. Let it die a natural death on the vine because no one is interested. Suck the algorithm life right out of it. 

Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash

That is not to say this is right for all posts on social media. There really are times you need to make
people aware and stand up and be heard.  BUT there are ways to do this without giving hate propaganda views, likes, comments and shares.  

The other glitch is simple human curiosity. We struggle to not look and see what people are talking about, but silence only works if we all come together to accomplish this goal. 

I share this now simply as an idea, a was to look at creating change through silence. I have no idea of how to implement it or get others on board. But I can take a stand for myself when I think silence is the best response.

If you have other unique ideas on ways to deal with negatively focused social media, or ideas on how to create a wave of silence, I would love to hear it. Just add your ideas in the blog comments.