“Social Warfare” Technology and the Death of Thought

Recently, I’ve been fascinated by biographies of well-known stories reported in the media. I’ve also spent some time watching documentaries on technology and the evolution of our connectivity. Over the past couple of months, I found two extremely insightful documentaries on Netflix — “The Great Hack” and “The Social Dilemma.” Initially, I sat and watched, jaw-dropped, mouth wide open, with no sound coming out. I looked at my husband sitting next to me and found him in a similar state. When my brain could finally communicate to my mouth adequately enough to form words, only one came out, “Wow!”

“Social Warfare” & Influence

It was eye-opening to see how the digital world is tracking, collecting, and then actually using our personal information. To me (and probably many others), it is comparable to psychological warfare through social media. I guess we would call it “social warfare.” While I wasn’t necessarily surprised that this was going on, the stories they shared clearly exemplified the violence and division we are seeing every day in this world.

I scoffed at the idea that someone or something could influence my decision making, and for the most part, I realized it does not. But I am self-aware enough to understand there’s a reason for that. I consider myself fortunate in having emotional intelligence, but it took me, and many others who possess it, a long time to get there … without social media. For the children, teens, and young adults who have not yet arrived at that level of emotional maturity, they can and are influenced by social media on a daily basis. They simply have nothing to compare it to, as we do.

I highly recommend both of these documentaries to anyone, but especially to parents. Leadership as a parent is directly tied to understanding the mental state of your children. And understanding their influences and from where they come will be just as important. For me, I have received no less than ten personal instructions on how to use Snapchat from my daughter, and still, I cannot figure it out. I keep swiping the wrong way! With that being (sadly) said, how do I monitor what is being fed to my child, when I cannot even open the application correctly? We must have open communications and constant dialogue about the world, the influences pulling and pushing us in various, often conflicting, directions, and counterbalancing the information they receive on social media with the information they need to know. This may be somewhat easier (and I use that term very loosely) for parents, but employers have a different struggle.

Influence Affecting the Workplace

When working with co-workers or employees, we must educate ourselves on current events and outside influences. As our leadership methods have had to evolve this year with continuous remote work for most organizations, our communication methods had to as well. We must learn what is influencing our employees’ beliefs and behaviors to determine if that influence is seeping into the office. Without being condescending or divisive, we must remind them that our collective influence must remain focused on our work, our team, our core values, and our culture. We must be deliberate in our actions and decisions as leaders, and offer stability and open communication that has the power of healing, not dividing.

As we learn new methods of communication, we would be well-advised not to ignore the elephant in the room. Recognize it, call it out, reiterate it, if necessary, and talk about the negativity surrounding each of us. Don’t shy away just because it may be difficult. One of our jobs as an effective leader who C.A.R.E.s is to address the difficult circumstances with confidence, authenticity, responsibility, and empathy. In this way, we can guide our team on how the company is responding. For example, “We recognize there is political, racial, and social unrest in the world, and each of us are affected, some more than others. We, as a company, will work diligently to remain aware of the needs of our employees and ensure we have a supportive culture for everyone through education and open communication.”

Coming Full Circle

Regardless of what political sides we are on, I am concerned where we are heading as a country. And I am sure I am not alone in that sentiment. Unfortunately, we have put ourselves in a very difficult situation. Seeing the country equally divided is challenging and counterintuitive to what I know most of us want as the “united” nation for which we were founded. And social media exacerbates this divide on a daily, hourly, and even minute-by-minute basis. We all talk about it. We all seem to know it on some level. Yet, truly understanding how deep the impacts of our digital world are is completely different. Take a look at “The Great Hack” and/or “The Social Dilemma,” if you haven’t already, and judge for yourself how detrimental it can be. Even if it does not affect you as profoundly as it did me, at a minimum, it will keep you connected and informed.

While I do not feel the need to share my position, I will always strive to share information. Information is power, and I truly feel it is upon us, as leaders, to share that power. As we remember our gratitude this Thanksgiving, please remember to be grateful to have the opportunity to educate ourselves and others, and to C.A.R.E. as a leader … and as a person.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time, please take C.A.R.E. of yourself and those around you in as many ways as possible.

For more information on this topic, visit One C.A.R.E. at a Time: Effective Leadership Through the Control of Emotions or www.teresameares.com.