Social Media in Aviation: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

In lieu of a recent heated exchange of insulting and demeaning comments against all of us corporate flight attendants on a Facebook group, “PJP Pilots,”— a forum corporate flight attendants were invited to join no less— I thought it was time to talk about SOCIAL MEDIA IN AVIATION.

The exchange I mention above got quite ugly and many of us removed ourselves from the group in protest (including myself). I will only be apart of groups that display and enforce professional decorum, not demean it. Therefore, I wanted to address the many blessings and curses of being active in social medial. As I am writing this, another heated exchange is currently going on in the NBAA JOBS forum. What is going on people?!

The various social media apps and forums may come and go but this technology is here to stay. Over the past few years, I have witnessed a few career deaths due to poor social media behavior. Many feel it’s your personal social media account, therefore, it’s your right and your business, correct? Actually, if you put it out here in the cyber world… it’s no longer private, and you are now fair game. It’s social media, which is a tremendous venue for networking and connecting, but it also comes with a price mixed with the good, the bad, and unfortunately the ugly.

Social Media can be a vital resource for business aviation professionals. There are numerous sites and forums for us to gather information and openly discuss within our community. Subjects can range from industry hot topics, recommendations for training programs and companies, the latest and greatest culinary trends, innovative inflight hacks, caterer recommendations, trip planning and logistics, job posts, service etiquette tips and techniques, cabin set ups, etc.

Many of us are actively involved on social medial and participate in various group discussion boards. These can be an excellent resource for everyone, especially those new to the industry. However, please keep in mind responses by group members are subjective and not necessarily the “majority rule.” They are simply stating their opinion, not necessarily the general “rule of the land.”

The influence and power of social media has made a tremendous impact on our social culture. It also is the contributing factor fueling an extremely impatient, judgmental, accusatory and needy society. In short, many people have become extremely impatient and judgmental hiding behind the safety of social media.

I always find it curious whenever scrolling through my news feed to witness so much anti-this/anti-that postings, especially when it comes to politics and social views. My typical Facebook day on my news feed is; scrolling, scrolling – negative post (ignore) – scrolling – insulting post (ignore) – scrolling – puppies playing (yay!) stop and view and “love” – scrolling, scrolling – funny cartoon or meme, stop to read, “laugh” at it – scrolling – selfie or scenic post from crew travels, admire and “like” and usually comment – scrolling – disrespectful post (ignore) – accusatory post (ignore) – scrolling – kitties and puppies video (yay!) stop and watch “love” – scrolling – motivational post, stop and read and maybe share but definitely “like.” This is why I actually prefer Instagram over Facebook because the content is 1) nothing but photos and 2) it’s 99% positive content.

Over the past few years, I’ve taken more of a human factors approach and started viewing various posts with more of an analytical observation and the personalities associated with it. The following “personalities” are my generalized interpretations based on several “characters” and not geared towards any specific individual. If you feel you have been targeted (which you weren’t), perhaps this is your subtle “wake up call” to change your social media persona or at least curtail it a bit. Too much of anything … well, is still too much.

Social Media Personalities – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Let’s start in reverse and get ‘The Ugly’ out of the way first …

THE UGLY: The Ranter

What I find perplexing is that the majority of anti-posts are not even fact-based or true. I mean if it’s on Facebook it must be true, right? If I’m motivated or curious enough about a post, I can usually, in less than three seconds, search on the Internet and confirm if it’s in fact, true or false. I truly fail to see the need for posting countless anti-this, anti-that graphics, articles, or rants. What exactly is the goal? Are you that bored or that driven to be so confrontational? Do you need a hug? I understand you are trying to change and educate the unknowing world via Facebook but….Actually, I think I just answered this dilemma – it’s Facebook!!

However, the more obvious clue for “Ranters” is your three “likes” out of your 500+ friends. This should be their obvious answer but they still keep on going. You shouldn’t be posting and judging the content by how many likes you receive. If you have 500+ followers and you are only getting 2 to 3 likes per post— you my friend, have been unfollowed by the masses. Which is what I do. I may choose to “unfollow” the ranters but not “unfriend.” Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I also don’t have to have it clog up my news feed with constant negativity. I have puppy videos to watch! An interesting feature recently launched by Instagram is that the platform now has algorithms in place to hide the like counts to prevent social addiction and mental health issues.

The Ugly: The Basher

Sharing opinions and maybe even having debates and differences of opinions in group forums is not only healthy, but it can be quite engaging and educational. These can also turn quickly into ugly, heated, and frankly, career suicide for some of the participants. Posting negative and insulting comments or naming a person/company by name publicly is simply, defamation of YOUR character, not theirs.

This happens on a regular basis. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you delete it after a few moments as it’s now out there somewhere in cyber life or has been screen captured for evidence. This happened to me a few years ago when a basher took over my timeline. I simply did a screen capture of the comments knowing they would rethink their behavior and delete it. They actually did delete it all, but I already had all the proof I needed.

Whenever I do any type of career placement and/or recruiting, I enter every applicants names in all the discussion boards, so I can view every thread they have participated in. You ranters and bashers just helped us edit the contender list. Restraint, proactiveness and professional decorum are values employers are seeking. You can have your account locked down but if you participate in group forums negatively, you could be blacklisting yourself with zero interaction with the potential employer.

The Ugly: The Pouncer

I find this one the most annoying. You write or share a post on your page, I repeat on your own page without the intention of starting any type of debate and then out of nowhere, someone goes on a psychotic attack all over your timeline. What the ?!?!? If you post on a discussion board, then you are basically open game for a debate, but hopefully not a pounce. Social Media Etiquette rule #1: before responding to anything that perhaps pushes your buttons, follow these simple rules I learned many years ago:

Ask yourself: Is It True? Is it Fair? Is It Kind? Is It Necessary?

If any of these answer with a “no,” then silently move on people. Just move on… it’s only social media. It’s ok, you can keep scrolling without commenting. Really, it’s ok.

THE BAD: The Over-Sharer

I refer to them as Facebook Therapy-seekers. For me, these types of posts are usually cringe-worthy. Not to mention, really should not be shared or posted publicly in community forums or anywhere for the general public to view, in my opinion. The over-sharer’s are either soliciting confirmation or relevance from connections because their page has gone dormant or worse, they are over-sharing personal information no one needs to know about. Keep this information private people! This is what private messaging is for. Better yet, instead of scrolling through the news feed on your mobile device out of desperation, why not just phone a friend?

The Bad: The Why Me-ers?

Many users post something that happened to them or they have experienced that is extremely frustrating, ironic, or just annoying. We can all relate and join in on the “OMG’s.” Some of these can be quite humorous. Then of course, there are those who take being the victim to the extreme and it now becomes the blame game: “I was overlooked for a position,” “I didn’t get the interview,” “I’ve been sabotaged,” “My co-workers are so mean to me,” “My passengers suck,” etc.

Some of these experiences should be posted and shared to protect others. If this much negativity is happening to you constantly maybe, just maybe, you should post less and re-evaluate yourself a little more. I understand some people have legitimate gripes but it’s also how you handle and discuss them. Can someone have a target on their back? Absolutely. However, in my experience, ranting about it on social media receives no real validation. The reality check is, if not handled correctly on social media, these types of posts reflect negatively on the person posting it, regardless if they have a legitimate complaint or not.

The Bad: The Name Gamers

Many social media users are no longer using their given name or using a pseudonym as their account name. Many account holders are choosing this option to avoid being found in searches and/or for personal security reasons, which I completely understand. Using a pseudonym instead of your real name is not necessarily a “bad” thing. If you are using social media as a networking, self-marketing tool or are prominently participating in industry discussion groups, you may be causing more confusion than you realize by not using your name. More importantly, you may be missing some important opportunities.

Something to consider:If you are being proactive on social media, you want people buzzing about YOU and not your fictitious persona. Also, don’t forget if private messaging any potential clients or business contacts via your social media messenger, be sure to include your real name in the message otherwise, we have no idea who you are. This happens to me all the time.

The Bad: The Post-aholics

You know the ones – they post nonstop 10+ ‘whatever’s’ every single day. You are scrolling through the news feed and “like” one post, then maybe “like” another and then … “wait, ANOTHER ONE?! What the what? Oh come on already, I’ve reached my quota and I’m done liking you for today.” If you are a post-aholic, I am confident that if you actually pace yourself and spread your posts out over a span of time, they may be better received and actually viewed instead of ignored. I also want to point out for Instagramers, you can actually post up to 10 photos in one posting instead of all of them individually … please!?

The Bad: The Stealthy

I find these types the most mysterious. They are the closet viewers scanning all of your posts but never show any signs by liking or commenting. When you speak to them, they say, “I loved your post the other day.” (and you are thinking to yourself, then why didn’t you “like” it?). Even more confusing to me are the ones who private message or text you about a post to simply say they liked it. What are you afraid of? Don’t you want people to know that you and I are connected? It’s called social media for a reason you know! < scratching head >

The Bad: Wrong Venue Posters

For those of you that are relentlessly trying to turn LinkedIn into Facebook by posting selfies, political rants and other personal related posts. Stop! Stop it right now! LinkedIn is the only dedicated social media site specially for career professionals, businesses, education and a profile building platform. The goal of this site is to connect you with other professionals and peers by building and engaging within your professional network, not your personal life.

The Bad: Reactions Conundrum

I do enjoy the reaction options on Facebook and now also on LinkedIn for you to respond to a post. Unfortunately, some people are not very savvy with selecting them. Have you witnessed a post about someone dying or a very powerful moving post and someone responds with the laughing reaction instead of the tears? Awkward. I am so cautious when selecting these for fear of selecting the incorrect one. You should be too.

THE GOOD

The Good: Virtual Healers & Huggers

I love when someone is feeling down, battling health issues, or going through anything difficult and need love and support from their friends and peers. Within seconds the social media community rallies to their side. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and experience. During my own personal turmoil of losing by husband six years ago, all of you literally kept me going on a daily basis with all of endless love and support. It was incredible, amazing, overwhelming and very humbling. Something I will never forget for the rest of my life. Because it was all done via social medial, I revisit them annually via my memory reminders.

The Good: Sporadic Positive Vibe, Humorous, and Motivational Posters

Thank you! That’s all … just thank you.

The Good: Shameless Selfie-ers

Is posting selfie’s self-indulgent? Self-gratification? Self-absorbing? Well of course they are! It’s also great fun and a positive thing to do! For years I was a selfie-loather but then eventually, I succumbed and crossed to the other side of selfie-dom. Now I have fun with it. Why not? Plus, I am alone the majority of time, so there’s that! I always find it humorous when I post a selfie taken as a timed photo – I could be on the jet, I’m pretending to nap in the hotel bed due to extreme fatigue and I’ll get the comments, “who’s taking the photo?” Really? Yes, I asked a stranger to come into my hotel room and take a photo of me sleeping.

I know from real experience — life is unpredictable and can drastically change in a split second therefore, have fun and rock on my selfie people. Rock on!


SUMMARY

Let me leave you with this:

  • Professionals always maintain positive attitudes.
  • This can be the difference between success and failure.
  • I mean, how bad are things really?
  • Professionals strive to be experts by constantly learning and growing.
  • Set yourself apart from the rest of the pack.
  • Professionals are accountable all the time.
  • If you make a mistake, own it. Don’t place blame on a colleague or a stranger. Try and resolve the issue yourself!
  • Professionals check their ego at the door.
  • Have confidence but not cockiness – I mean do you really know everything?
  • What goes around, comes around.
  • Negative behavior invites a negative response or no response at all.
  • Professionals maintain their poise, even when facing difficult situations.
  • Failing and losing your composure can be a career killer.

Make sure you use Social Media for the amazing resource that it is, and can be for you – both professionally and personally. If you cannot compartmentalize your professional and personal life via social media then create separate accounts. The majority of social media apps are now very easy to be able to swap back and forth between separate accounts.

We are all aware of the fake news and factitious posts that are read, viewed and shared on social media. I rarely question the validity of the content featured in a negative post as I can fact check it quickly. I do, however, question the validity of the person who feels the need to post it in the first place.

by SCOTT ARNOLD, trainDAVINCI

*This blog post was first published on Flightattendantlife.com

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