"The factory of the future will have only two employees: a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment."
Prof. Warren Bennis

Get Leadership Notes by Email

Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 404


Estimated reading time:  3:30 minutes


One of the interesting tech developments over the past decade of course has been social media. The links we have been able to make and maintain over time and space because of Facebook and Instagram, to name only two, have been remarkable. And at the same time, the comments, especially about politics, religion, race, sexuality and gender under people’s posts appear to be from hecklers on steroids. 


There is a long tradition of heckling, especially from within a crowd protesting an unjust authority. In the Hunger Games saga, the Three Fingers Salute that individuals from within the crowds give Catniss, often at their own great peril, is a kind of heckling of President Snow and his cronies. It is a powerful and important protest. And heckling during theatre and arts events, including boo’s and jeers is also a way of showing displeasure with the act or the content. And these protests and jeers are from the relative safety of the audience. And there are various means of responding to hecklers that the participants in the show itself have, ranging from state sanctioned violence in the case of protesting a government, to insults and jeers right back at the heckler from the stage. I recall one particularly mean one from an actor back to a heckler, “obviously you’ve mistaken me for someone who gives a s@#$ about your opinion.” This lone shamed the heckler so much with the laughter from the audience that he slunk out of the theatre. 


Comments on social media, are often simply heckling.


I try to live by a rule that says comments on social media must enhance the other person, and never denigrate or hurt them. When we heckle each other on social media we too quickly fall into reciprocal shaming, like that I witnessed in that theatre. 


Two people, listening to each other, and advocating and inquiring about truth will be able to do far more, faster and more effectively than three or five or eight people heckling from the audience.


Protest is important, and it is most effective when it is public, and in person. For example, I look forward to the protests across North America from women marching together on Saturday. Perhaps we might see some Three Fingered Salutes! That will be great heckling. 


And in the meantime lets commit to less heckling on social media and more engagement on social media that enhances each of us.