Passion is good, even necessary. I appreciate people's zeal for their personal core values. What is not appreciated is the attempt at a redirection of a comment thread when the comment has little or nothing to do with an original post or is twisted at best.
Social media provides ample opportunity for all of us to share what’s important to us on our own platform. Eliciting others’ responses and developing connections largely depends on our ability to communicate and compel. Some people are open to receiving private communication from others although they aren’t always able to answer personally or at length. But hijacking a comment thread no matter how critical we feel certain issues to be is simply not cool and almost always unwelcome.
To illustrate this I'm going to choose three things I have high regard for. I have deliberately chosen to do this because the objective of this post isn’t to vent about organizations I take issue with, but to speak to social media etiquette that people would be wise to understand if they want to become greater connected. My examples will be: missions, people with disabilities, and leadership conferences.
How do I know someone can hijack a page using all three of these worthy topics? All three actually happened to me, therefore coming up with these was really not all that hard.
My Facebook status update: "Please pray for our dog, Maddie. She was involved in a car accident this morning, her back is broken and the vet says it will take a miracle for her to live. The need for your prayers is critical!"
Missionary friend’s comment in response: "We need $10,000 more in our cash budget to get to the mission field. Time is running out! Please get the word out to your network and e-mail us asap if you can help! The need is critical!"
My Facebook status update: "It was a great day for a bike ride today. The weather couldn't be any more perfect in Florida right now and I love riding at sunset."
Comment from friend who runs a non-profit: "Consider supporting the muscular dystrophy association. I wish I could ride my bike, but I can't. The only thing I can ride is a wheelchair. Maybe you could write a blog about MD to raise awareness, or make a pledge."
My Facebook status update: "Are you looking for ways to cultivate closer family relationships even with the busy work season you’re in? Check out my blog post today…"
Comment from a pastor friend: "Sure hope everyone reading this is registering for our CULTIVATE CONFERENCE coming up, September 11-14 at the Omni! Early registration rates still apply but you have to ACT NOW."
Although I appreciate the passion of all of the individuals posting and the causes they support, it's still not an excuse to commandeer my page.
Another basic rule of effective commenting is to watch the length of your comment. When you're on someone's page it's basically like being in their home. Would you walk into somebody else's house and stand there and talk for an hour without coming up for air? Hopefully not, that would be really weird. I've found that people tend to love comments, but they do not enjoy diatribes. If diatribes are your thing, do one on your page and if they like it, they will come.
I try to keep my comments to a few sentences. If they want more, they will ask. There are times I've written a lengthier comment explaining something when the owner of the page reads my previous brief comment and says, "could you share more about that?" It's always better to have someone asking for more rather than wishing you'd stop talking.
When people lack respect in this regard I have resisted the temptation to post: "I'm running a campaign to end page social media hijacking. Perhaps you could consider supporting it."
By the way, Maddie miraculously lived. This is my own post, so I’m not hijacking.