Social Tactics: Belittle

by Jay Deragon on 09/27/2010

Those that don’t understand the intersection of technology with the human network tend to belittle the emerging forces and those who discuss it.

The word “belittle” means to represent or speak of as contemptibly small or unimportant; disparage to cause to seem less than another or little. All of us have experienced others belittling our thoughts, ideas and conversations. The natural reaction of an “ego” is to belittle something or someone they don’t understand. Worst yet is when someone belittles another because they are threatened by someone else opinion, idea or intellect thus to avoid being embarrassed they use the tactic of belittling someone and their idea.

A Tactic Used for Power & Control

Old business models are designed to contain power to the few who in turn believe they have control over the many. You can see it in corporate settings where the “boss” suggest something and the employees questions the validity of a suggestion.  Bosses don’t like to be questioned rather they like to be followed even if the direction is wrong.  We see it within the landscape of social media everyday.

A social media celebrity post something as if it were the gospel of social media. A reader challenges the beliefs reflected by the content and the celebrity disparages the readers comment for the purposes of seeming smarter and in control of the conversation. Celebrities like the power of popularity and use messages to control it. Sound familiar?

Main stream media provides ongoing commentary on this thing called social media. Most of the commentaries are negative implying the dangers of the web and the stupidity of the comments. While trying to downplay the role of social media the talking heads always refer the listener to their Twitter account, Facebook Fan page, their website(s) and their most recent book published for consumption. By belittling others they try to position themselves as the authority on whatever subjects are being discussed.

Many social media gurus propagate their wisdom about all things social and gather the crowds to hear their latest opinion on use of social media for a variety of purposes. When their beliefs are challenged by a few they discount the validity of the comment and the person leaving the comment.

The driving factor behind use of belittling as a tactic is fear of loosing a position, popularity and fundamentally being wrong. The irony is that if your statements, positions or opinions cannot weather the “questions or challenges” from the crowd then you lose the influence you thought you once had.

The “wisdom of the crowds” has always been smarter than the few because wisdom comes from asking the right questions. There is never a single answer to a problem instead problems are solved by asking the right series of questions.

Ever heard the expression that “the wise seek counsel from the many”. It isn’t that the many seek counsel from the few. Yet the market seems to think the latter is true. It isn’t!

Am I belittling those who use this tactic? You bet I am.

{ 1 comment }

Dan Robles October 2, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Great post Jay. One example that I see a lot is the need to define terms in one’s own image. One popular Silicon Valley blogger now argues that the term “Entrepreneur” is a reserved definition with a host of characteristics conveniently falling under their own image and ideals. Well, there are many people trashing the world who could be called entrepreneurs under those ideals too. What a load of crap. But beware, they always “strike” at the point of “Definition” in language. It’s called propaganda.

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