Social media is a wonderful place to interact with celebrities, check football news during the playoffs, and view family reunion photos.
It is not a great place to discuss serious topics.
One recent example of this is when Jillian Michaels issued an apology for a statement she made about the rapper Lizzo. I’ll spare you all of the details, but social media has erupted over the incident and called it an example of fat-shaming.
Lizzo responded today with an Instagram video that…let’s just say it’s not family safe. I’m not including the link to it, but I do defend her right to respond.
The problem, of course, is that there are too many nuances.
What was Michaels really trying to say when she was interviewed on a Buzzfeed show recently? The star of The Biggest Loser may have some valid points to make about obesity and diabetes for the general public. The fact that she used Lizzo as an example is reprehensible in my view. Why her? Why on Buzzfeed?
What should have occurred? Maybe just: No comment.
I happen to agree with Lizzo on this issue because no one has the right to criticize the way she looks. She never asked for any opinions. We should evaluate the music only. She is an example of self-acceptance and not letting others determine your value.
The rapper is incredibly gifted. She sings, dances, and plays the flute all at the same time. How she looks is not relevant. On social media, there is no opportunity to have an actual discussion about the topic within a 280-character limit on Twitter.
In my view, the mistake Michaels made has to do with making the original comment. And also with issuing an apology (see below) that didn’t sit well with social media followers. There are cases when it is better to not say anything further.
Is there a better way? Yes. “No further comment.”
Quite a few years, an interesting tactic emerged related to email. This might have been about 20 years ago, but it’s still common today. When you are not interested in something, or you do not want to proceed, or there isn’t much to say about a topic, the “accepted” approach is to not reply at all. No response means “no” in email parlance. What makes it effective is that it pulls the digital rug out of the conversation. You get total silence. There is nothing more to say or do.
The minute you do respond to an email, that’s a “yes” in many ways. It means the conversation is still in play, even if your actual message says no thank you. The door is open. We’ve accepted this approach even if it is not always fair. It’s nice to hear an actual response at times. Yet, I tend to see the value of not replying to an email because it means you have stopped the conversation.
With social media, the conversation never seems to stop.
It goes on and on and on. There is no way to resolve the fat-shaming issue. The more Michaels comments the worse it looks. The original comment was not justified. The additional comments even more so. (I reached out to the PR contact for both Michaels and Lizzo and did not receive a response.)
It’s an example of how more discussion means more confusion. And more criticism. Using “no comment” (without actually saying that) is a way to prevent future misunderstandings. Also, not commenting in the first place. It’s a way to silence the crowds and give them a chance to move on to other topics.
These things tend to drift away into the clouds anyway.
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