Perspective. When reality isn’t that real.

October 15, 2009

You hear it almost daily, the urging by others to ‘keep it real’. But what’s that saying mean? Is there some other way to be?

Unfortunately, yes. In an age where there’s immediacy in all our communications and something we share can instantly be viewed and archived by others, there’s a reason to be more deliberate in our words and actions.

It’s simple to offend people just by saying the wrong thing or by typing an innocuous email or sharing a context-free photo. But are these offenses or simple missteps? Back when you wrote a letter or a postcard, or had phones that seldom dropped calls or inserted static at inopportune times, you didn’t have the same misunderstandings.

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So, do we blame the lack of perspective and the prevailing hurt feelings on technology? Or is it the result of an ever-increasing pace of life. Or further, is it just softer skins on people who don’t know how to communicate IRL so their social media and online relationships also lack perspective?

I’ve asked a lot of questions here because I’m curious about the drivers of human behavior.

Confused? Am I being too obtuse? Then let’s use a hypothetical…

Bob and Sharon are joking around on the beach. Sharon sees Bob walking past the women’s changing rooms and takes a picture with her phone. Then she adds it to Twitter and shares it with the world – or her 2000 followers – with the caption, “Bob commits a foul by using the girls’ room to change.”

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Clearly to Sharon it’s a joke.

Clearly to anyone standing there, it’s a joke.

But Bob goes off the deep end when he find out that Sharon did this horrible thing to his good name. He worries that all of Sharon’s followers and essentially the whole world now believe he would do something as heinous as use the ladies room.

What’s your take?

A. Should Bob pledge to make Sharon’s life miserable every chance he gets because she had fun at Bob’s expense? In a single Tweet? On a single day? Where maybe 10% of Sharon’s followers might see it? Where only the folks following both Bob and Sharon would see the joke?

B. Should Bob let it go and chalk up the experience to Sharon not fully understanding how sensitive Bob was about his image?

C. Should both Bob and Sharon go to remedial social media school to learn how to communicate using the tools of today?

D. Should the event have warranted even these 79 words I’ve used to describe them?

THAT’s what I’m talking about when I wonder if people are being too focused on the way they’re perceived and not focused enough on just being good people.

There are situations like this going on every day and I’ve got one word for the people who are taking themselves so seriously.


Have you run into someone who thinks they’re a bigger deal than they are; or who clearly doesn’t understand how to communicate? Please share those experiences in the comments.

And if you’re out and about tomorrow in Boston and looking for something to do, put this on your tweetup calendar…see Gary Vaynerchuk, Mike Langford, Thomas Edwards and me at the Estate. We’re Wining Dining and Signing. Tickets are still available.

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