We see it every day, people on social media who are acting or behaving poorly and unprofessionally. What is it about the internet that allows people to believe that they are anonymous? That their actions are not being watched and scrutinized by their peers?
If we had any advice for participating in social media, it would be this: Respect, Professionalism, and Character.
Respect. Despite that the boundaries are truly invisible online, there are still boundaries nonetheless, even in social media. People deserve respect whether that’s in person or on their accounts, pages, etc.
As martial artists, respect and courtesy are ingrained in our everyday life. But not everyone lives by these principles so thoroughly, and we cannot count the number of times we have witnessed a person disrespect another on the internet—even going as far as posting their disrespect directly on the person’s own page or profile through comments and sharing!
When you engage another person on a post, remember that the person or business that you are interacting with also has feelings or different opinions from your own… And most often, that is not a bad thing.
Much like performing a technique on the mat—people will share perspectives and acknowledge our efforts on attempting the move with constructive critique on how to improve or how they might have done the move different. When in-person, rarely would someone simply yell “That move is terrible” or “MY school would NEVER do a move like THAT.” So why would it be ok to do that online? Make sure you aren’t ‘that person’ on social media.
Professionalism. If you have business page or an account you use for your school, be aware that everything you interact with will become a part of how your school is perceived to friended students, parents or potential new students.
So often we are judged by our every action, and social media is no different. If your personal account is attached to your business or you have clients as your friends… Make sure you keep a balanced and professional presentation with your interactions. For the same reason we wouldn’t want our students to see us buying bad food choices in a grocery store or behaving in a less-than-black-belt manner, likewise we would not want them to see us behaving in such a way on social media that will undermine the brand of your school.
Character. Similar to professionalism, we want to be aware of who we are on social media. Are you always pushing out negative content? Do you always participate in drama from your family and friends? Do you share less-than-appropriate videos or memes? Do you have a track record of making fun of certain people or interests?
Remember, social media does not always translate our intentions as we originally intended. Being clear and following our black belt mindset helps correct any potential misleading character actions we may take.
Overall, we don’t want to be afraid to be the real person we are online, but by being aware of how we are perceived and taking into account how our actions can affect others we can better represent ourselves. As long as you carry the respect, professionalism and character you can be proud of, there is no reason not to continue to perpetuate black belt excellence across the internet.
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