We tend to be pretty passive-aggressive as a society. And social media seems to have made it worse, in some ways. Social media has made it possible for us to point out bad behavior, and we’ll often do it to a complete stranger, but we won’t do it to our friends.
I did a short (unscientific) survey last month to find out whether people would call out bad behavior on the part of strangers versus friends. I wasn’t surprised by some of the results, partly because most of the people I know are pretty nice people and not prone to being online jerks. But mostly because many respondents are from the Midwest, and we’re annoyingly nice about a lot of things.
Basically what I found is, we are more likely to forgive friends, but we will stick it to a complete stranger.
- If we are wronged by a friend, we’ll point it out privately rather than call it out.
- 40% of us will hang a stranger out to dry publicly; nearly all of us will tell someone else about it.
- Only a very few people will say or do nothing, either about a friend or a stranger’s bad behavior.
This was a four question survey, with a series of answers that asks about responses that range from very direct (and rather jerky) to very passive (being a doormat).
For example, question #1 asked: When a friend — who uses social media — wrongs me in some way, I am more likely to:
- Call them out BY NAME on a social network. “I can’t believe @edeckers stood me up for our meeting this morning.”
- Point out my annoyance, but don’t mention their name. “Got stood up for a 7:30 am meeting.”
- Send them a private message pointing out the problem. “Did you forget we had a meeting this morning?”
- Absolutely nothing.
So would you @reply someone or set your Facebook status to call them out by name? Or would you passive-aggressively point out to the whole world that some unnamed jerkface missed your morning meeting?
I wasn’t that surprised by the results. Most people are nice enough to keep our gripes private, and to not air our grievances in public, and the numbers bore this out. Out of 107 responses to Question 1:
- 80 people (74.7%) said they would email their friend privately to point out their problems.
- 12 people (11.2%) would call out the incident, but not name the person.
- 11 people (10.2%) would do absolutely nothing at all.
- 4 people (3%) would call that person out by name.
I was intrigued that the number of people who would do absolutely nothing to tell the other person what they had done was nearly the same as the number of people who would point out the bad behavior but not name any names.