Happy 2017. I start this year in a somewhat imbalanced way. Keen to get going on things that matter to me and yet troubled by the state of the world. Since June, the troubled state of the world has created a lot of interference for me. What can I do about it? Who can I join forces with and get some good things going on to counter the confusion, anger, alienation? So if you feel helpless and unsure, that’s how I’ve felt. One area I’ve noticed where that interference is most prominent is with social media posts, threads and chats.
So over the festive break, I sorted out some of my social media “stuff”. Nothing as grand as the title of this blog suggests (I’m doing this from a point of irony) but nonetheless took steps to cut out noise and disturbances that weren’t helpful to me at all. Whilst this isn’t meant to be click bait, it has led to me thinking about the the one thing I’d like to set as my resolution for this year. And that is me being better at understanding my self-efficacy.
For the avoidance of doubt, here are some extracts from Wikipedia to give definition to the term:
“Self-efficacy, also referred as personal efficacy, is the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Psychologists have studied self-efficacy from several perspectives, noting various paths in the development of self-efficacy; the dynamics of self-efficacy, and lack thereof, in many different settings; interactions between self-efficacy and self-concept; and habits of attribution that contribute to, or detract from, self-efficacy.”
“Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavour. By determining the beliefs a person holds regarding his or her power to affect situations, it strongly influences both the power a person actually has to face challenges competently and the choices a person is most likely to make.”
“People generally avoid tasks where self-efficacy is low, but undertake tasks where self-efficacy is high. When self-efficacy is significantly beyond actual ability, it leads to an overestimation of the ability to complete tasks. On the other hand, when self-efficacy is significantly lower than actual ability, it discourages growth and skill development. Research shows that the optimum level of self-efficacy is slightly above ability; in this situation, people are most encouraged to tackle challenging tasks and gain experience”
Back to my social media platforms. I’ve not really reclaimed my space in the social web. I’ve tidied things up a lot, sorted a few things out that will help me make sense of the troubled world I see sprouting around us. And I’ve done this because of some of the drivel that is being posted. The ridicule being thrust upon sensible human beings and the downright divisive tripe being put out there.
I’ve been as a big a fan and evangeliser of social media since I really got my groove on around 2009/10. I won’t be saying the same things I said then (hopeful, exciting and stimulating) as I would now. I’ve not turned sour. I’ve not a dullness implant. I’ve had enough of the scorn, the baiting and the insults that seem commonplace.
Since when did being a compassionate, articulate and frankly kind person become something to ridicule? When did a younger person’s right to have their say be met with nothing but “snowfl*ke” insults and chastisement for being a whinging, cry-baby liberal? When did we become so nasty and vindictive towards people based on viewpoints and beliefs?
Always it seems. And the nasty genie is out of the bottle for sure since June and November’s political decisions taken on either side of the Atlantic ocean.
So perhaps we just weren’t as exposed to it as we once were. And Social Media platforms are giving those with anger, oppression and hatred the chance to shout down those with gentle, informed and compassionate views. Am I going to suddenly start taking people on on social media? Am I going to be a crusading force for “right”? Am I about to leap into troll-fuelled debates and take on people where I have no idea on their circumstances, background or values set?
I pointed to Howard Thurman’s quote in my last piece and I point to it again.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Taking down “alt-right” advocates or fascists isn’t what makes me come alive. Helping people, being kind to them and generosity towards others is what makes me come alive.
So if I see someone being trolled, abused or taken on, I’m not going to assault their assailant. I’m going to offer support to the person being taken on – privately. The only intellectual and emotional wagons I’ll be circling, is around them discreetly and not throwing stones back at the wrong-doer. It appears that the assailant won’t back away because of facts; won’t react to any compromise position so I’d say leave it alone and nullify their toxicity so they either revel in their putrid air or cognitively suffocate on their own hatred.
And if I’ve created and live in a liberal bubble (and therefore social media echo chamber), then that’s only the same as the fascist, extremists are doing. Maybe those advocating stream-crossing are missing the trick and the “starve them of attention” approach IS the only way to be with this shouting, pouting, anti-rationale crap.
Which is why I’ve blocked all manner of people and sites. Reported many where I think it right to do so. Why I’ve muted so much of the accounts I’m connected with whose posts are unhelpful, don’t educate or inspire me.
I’m extending my own self-efficacy to creating more around me that matches what I believe in rather than taking on people who hold beliefs I find wrong. Just as the reality created by “alt-right” extremists is a post-truth, fact-less hyperbole and arrogant posturing I guess. Sure, I may have to address some of the consequences of their behaviour – I’m not ignorant to that. I just think I’d rather my “thing” be to help others like me who believe that being kind, generous and helpful is what being a human being is all about.
That’s my self-efficacy of now. I’m not courageous enough, informed enough or thick-skinned enough to take on trolls; to get involved in pointless spats with hard-lined right-wingers or to change the mindsets of those locked in their own thinking. I’m grateful for those who do and I’ll be supporting those who demonstrate leadership and self-efficacy in this area pursuing the things that matter to them.
It may seem that all I’ve done is built a firewall to protect what I love about the social web: access to great people with bulging hearts, open minds and intellectual prowess. It’s my way of building my self-efficacy in helping those of us already adept, brave and determined enough to take on others as their way of coming alive.
Selfies are a defining (and to some degree narcissistic) aspect of the social era. Self-efficacy is knowing what makes us come alive, what we’re good at and want to be better at.
I’ve started my deeper understanding of self-efficacy through my social connectivity to the world. I hope others can also explore what their self-efficacy is and what it means to making their lives more fulfilled, purposeful and joyful.
I’ll leave you with this meme. Happy self-efficacy one and all.