I’ve gotten a bit of a rep in the social media world (Twitter in particular) of being an anti-Spam kind of gal. I’m usually opposed to affixing labels to people, but that’s one label that I’ll gladly cop to. Here’s the thing that I think bears saying. Being an ostrich about anything that’s unpleasant in life is the easy route, people. Stick your head in the sand the minute there’s anything even remotely untoward going on, and let the storm pass you by. Something to be proud of for sure – and definitely an attribute you’d want to pass on to your children.
Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather my kids see me as a rabble rouser and someone who fights for what they think is right rather than a lame old ostrich – any day.
My great friend Diana Adams just wrote a fantastic piece on leadership and identified people whom she believes are leaders within the Twitterverse. Her post included quotes from all of them as to what leadership means to them. I was honored and flattered beyond words to be included with such an amazing group and the post itself got me to thinking on an even deeper level about leadership.
Here’s the thing. Sometimes people set out to be leaders and sometimes they just become leaders. But, in either case, with leadership comes responsibility. Responsibility to be honest and true – to yourself and to others. Responsibility to act like a leader and set an example to those who look up to you. Responsibility to your family, friends and those who love you to respect and honor them by way of your deeds and actions. And a responsibility to fight the good fight – to take a stand when a stand is needed, and to use your influence as a leader for the greater good. In my opinion, if a person just takes all the fun things about being a leader (e.g. celebrity, perks, adulation, attention, and the like) and never wrestles with any of the gnarly issues with which leaders are presented on a daily basis – are they really a leader? More importantly, are they really the kind of leader who deserves acclaim? And by the way, don’t mistake this part for me being all stuck up and thinking I’m some kind of a grand leader – I’m as ordinary as they come. I’m just trying to inspire thoughts on leadership in general here.
So, in my world, when you walk past litter, you pick it up and put it in the garbage where it belongs. And you teach your kids not to litter. When you see someone being a bully, you stand up to them – whether it’s in real life or in the social media realm – and you tell them to cut it out and go pick on someone their own size. And you teach your kids to respect others, not to be bullies. And, when you see someone broadcasting spam – whether it’s pornographic spam or selling spam, whether it’s in the “real” world or in the social media realm, you have an obligation, as a leader, to suck it up, take a stand, and call them out.
So there you have it. I’m no grand leader, but I do have a fair amount of influence in the social media realm and, for me, with that influence comes responsibility. It would be much easier, not to mention infinitely more fun, to just blithely ignore spammers and let them do their thing whilst I do mine. The thing is, that I kind of feel that with that influence I’ve developed, comes responsibility. Responsibility to reach out to newbies and lend a helping hand when I can. Responsibility to spread important messages whenever possible. And a responsibility to stand up and denounce losers who litter one of the worlds that I love with endless spam.
And a funny thing happened along the way – the more I made a practice of publicly calling out spammers, reporting them to Twitter and their @spam team, the less I see of them. And the fewer spam followers I find in my email inbox on a daily basis. Don’t worry, I’m not truly insane enough to believe that my small efforts have made some HUGE difference. But I am sincere when I say that those of you who have influence – in any social media realm – also have a responsibility to fight your own fights – whether it’s against spammers or something else about which you’re passionate. Don’t ever settle for being an ostrich – that’s just too boring for words.