Face your problems. Don't Facebook your problems.

In the volatile culture that we live in, I wouldn’t blame any business for being afraid of having a social media presence, because people are mean and have a way of tearing you down.

There are many social networking groups that run rampant with hate; and it’s a stark difference from dealing with detractors and trolls. In recent Saskatchewan news, there’s been an uprising of racism on social media over a young Aboriginal man who was shot and killed on a rural property near Biggar. The ‘Saskatchewan Farmers’ Facebook group, home of many of the racist remarks, has now been taken down and the National Farmers’ Union has since publicly condemned the racism.  Similarly, in 2013, anti-Aboriginal sentiments were so strong that newspaper Thompson Citizen made the decision to permanently shut down its popular Facebook page.

Business aside, the reason I both love and hate social media is because it can uncover the true, and often ugly, attitudes of our culture. Somewhere along the way, we learned to be covert about our politically incorrect feelings and publicly tolerate those that are different from us without ever resolving the prejudice. But the internet, and the networks it’s afforded us, has allowed us to find like-minded people who share our opinions; no matter how hatefully extreme they may be.

 I believe, though, that where there’s one extreme there’s an equal opposite. The opportunities for change that social networks have are tremendous. Take for example the rising intolerance of sexism in the Rio 2016 Olympic coverage; and look no further than this unfortunate headline.

More so than ever, it’s important for people continue to think beyond their business and see their potential to change more than just their profits, but contribute to a change in our culture through inspiration and education. I believe businesses can survive on social media without cheap tricks and gimmicks, and can have a real impact through thoughtful and honest content. Maybe naively, I believe kindness and love will prevail. While there are days where it’s hard to believe, I still think people are capable of changing the conversation in an open and healthy way. The internet is a big place; let’s make it a good one.

Thanks for reading.

Published: August 2016
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