Great adversity is a pre-requisite to greatness. Enduring strong opposition, being able to recover from a direct knockout, and believing the most and the longest even if the odds are against you are all elements of what make great leaders truly great. I am not impressed by anyone who is constantly bragging about his latest accomplishments especially when these statements are shared on social media. Anybody who is great in what they do understand that being successful isn’t a solo sport! Greatness doesn’t need to be a contact sport necessarily but it most definitely has elements of team work. I am afraid that social media is enforcing a dangerous ideology — The idea that “I” can make my world perfect and that “I” don’t need you.
One of the most important leadership lessons I’ve ever learned in my career came from a former Director of Analysis and Planning at Ohio State University and former Associate Provost. He once told me, “Always look at the law of opposites: The moment that somebody says that they are great in something, be aware.” “Nobody who is great at anything need to tell others that they are all that great,” my mentor once said. The former is a wise statement, indeed. Why are we allowing our kids to behave the way they do on social media?
My fellow Americans, I am afraid that all these social media walls and mediated spaces are allowing children to practice bad communication habits especially among kids between the ages of 14 and 18. It is shocking the content that we can see and hear in apps like YouNow or Yik Yak. Compatriots, your sons and daughters and quite possibly your dear grandchildren aren’t really using Facebook or twitter that much if at all. Facebook and all these “old school” social media tools are for old people like you and me. If you decide to log into the YouNow app, the bragging that occurs on Facebook sounds like kinder garden. The “I” culture of these new contemporary social media tools are reaching very high levels of ridicule to a point of no return. After momentarily visiting a “celebrity” on a popular social media tool back in July, I felt obligated to create a lesson for college students about the danger of these new and upcoming social media apps and how they impact the lives of our loved ones.
How uncomfortable would you be to see your teenager daughter speaking with an Iraqi Soldier on YouNow? I’ve seen a person in her 50’s giving what I consider to be very poor advice about life for teenage girls on an app system. Maybe I am being overly defensive and skeptical about having fifty year old mature adult speaking with teenagers about the importance of doing “what you like” as a youngster. I don’t think I am, though. I can see many of you being uncomfortable with such scenarios, as well. I had to say a prayer about the whole situation and de facto I did.
I am currently teaching a Lee University course titled, “Innovations and Social Media.” In that class, I teach students how to use social media responsibly and how to understand both the positive and negative effects of innovation in society within the scope of the course’s objectives. Why are we so shy about condemning this culture of “I” in our society these days? It is time for us to take the lead and break this idea that bragging on-line is acceptable and that anything goes in social media. My daughter’s life matter to me and I know that yours matter to you. Say no to self aggrandizement on-line. Say yes to God and the future of your children.