This past week, I received a notification that I had been asked a question on Facebook. Now Facebook Questions is currently new functionality, and people are still figuring it out. It’s not something you can currently opt out of, or decline notifications for. The question I had been asked was a political question. Someone with a strong political leaning asked a question that was sure to solicit some emotional responses.
And it made me shake my head for a couple of reasons.
- Number one, the person that sent me the question does not know me all that well. In fact, it’s a business contact. They have no idea what my political opinions are, or whether or not I would agree. (And if you think that your opinion is one that everyone in the world shares, that’s even more dangerous. Nothing is a foregone conclusion.)
- Politics is naturally divisive. While everyone has an opinion when it comes to politics, when you share these opinions with people who don’t know you well, they can be taken out of context. You can come off as very insensitive because people don’t know the whole story. Why would you alienate potential business contacts that way?
- When you get into social media, you’re no longer only working with people in your little neck of the woods. You must understand that the feelings and opinions that “everyone has” where you live may be quite different in other parts of the country, and world. You cannot assume that everyone agrees with you.
And I felt like today I need to address this again. In the US, we are getting ready to enter a presidential campaign season. The political rhetoric will surely heat up again, with people feeling passionate about issues and positions. But it HAS NO PLACE ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS if you are using them for business.
Politics can get nasty, especially during a presidential campaign. People have very strong opinions that aren’t necessarily the same. Online friends don’t have context of you as a whole person…they don’t serve at coffee hour with you at church, they don’t volunteer with you at the MS walk…all they know of you is this strong opinion you’ve just expressed that they strongly disagree with. They may block you entirely just so they don’t have to read it. And that ends any chance you had of building a relationship or doing business with them.
Unless you’re only interested in a homogeneous team and customer base, keep your politics off your social networks.
image credit: kretyen