We do it for the audience!
i spend a lot of time in online conversations, often around topics involving Justice. Looking at race or poverty or gender discrimination and more.
There are times when i really get into it with someone and there is a back-and-forth and it becomes pretty obvious quite early on that neither of us are going to change our mind. In those situations, people often ask me, “Why do you keep going? You’re wasting your time!”
Which often seems like the case, but i have come to learn a very important thing.
Someone is always watching!
i have learned this through countless inbox messages and even some offline conversations: Someone is always watching. Always!
When you get into a deadlock with someone who may be trolling and not taking the engagement seriously, but is definitely looking like they are not going to change their stance, then my awareness switches to those who are watching.
My social media settings are set to as public as possible because of how intentional i try to be in how i use my platforms. Many people read statuses and follow arguments or conversations without commenting for a variety of reasons [shy, fear, don’t want conflict, reputation]. But it doesn’t mean they are any less engaged. In fact, often those who stick around are those who are way more engaged in the issue/topic than the person you are trying to communicate with. Often it’s those who are on the edge in terms of making a different decision or life choice.
The ones who are much more likely to change.
And so, often i will keep engaging.
The audience are often won over by the words and the argument. But sometimes it can even be the way that you argue – do you show respect and patience and humility [things i definitely do not get right all the time] and are you backing up your thoughts with good evidence or reason?
That’s it. That’s often why i keep on. And i want to encourage you in your writing to do the same.
If a post gets three shares it means at least fifteen people have read it.
If it gets 50 likes it means closer to 300 have probably taken a look.
If one person comments on something you write, know that five other people really wanted to, but for various reasons didn’t.
There are ALWAYS more people than you think.
A visible audience makes things a little easier
i guess one last point would go to those of you who are audience to different things. Try and be more engaged when you can.
Knowing there is very likely an audience watching or listening is not as helpful as being assured of the fact.
If you find something you read or watch was helpful or challenging then SHARE it on your page or TAG some people who might benefit from it or at the very least give it a LIKE. Leave a comment, even if just to say ‘Thanks’ or ‘Yes!’ or ‘My thoughts as well’. If commenting publicly doesn’t feel good for whatever reason, then drop a short message in the inbox to say thank you. It might be very easy for you but it will likely mean so much to the person you are commenting to/about.
Those are often the things that keep me going, especially when push-back and disagreement and the occasional Troll is on the loose. A short message in the inbox, a friendly voice note or encouraging whatsapp message or someone making a comment to me when they see me.
This is also another reason why adopting a #NotOnOurWatch commitment is so vital. When you interrupt racism or sexism or any other injustice when you see it online – small or large – people are watching and they get the message and learn quite quickly what you believe is and is not acceptable. This is so vital for challenging both mindsets and behaviour.
Let’s continue doing what we do, and be mindful of the audience. Someone is always watching!