“They say ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’, however…you can salt the oats.”
This is something a dear friend and mentor used to say to us. By it he meant, you can’t force things on people, but you can make them curious enough to actually want to hear what you have to say.
Lately, in social media, I’ve been seeing a lot of dragging to the water, but very little oat salting.
Of course, by it’s very nature, social media platforms are the place where we all offer up our every thought, opinion and stance on every issue imaginable. And obviously, by the very fact that I have a blog, I myself am included in this, so please, as you read, don’t feel like what I’m saying is passing a judgement. I’m basically just wondering ‘aloud’ if there’s a more effective way to do things sometimes.
The past few days have seen an especially high surge of stance-taking in the social media world. Obviously this is in correlation to the Supreme Court’s consideration of gay marriage. It seems everyone-and-their-brother’s-cousin feels the need to post some picture, quote or explanation declaring which side of the battle lines they are on. Not a question left in anyone’s mind…for better or for worse.
As I watch the statuses, pictures and quotes pour forth in my newsfeed, it sort of just made me resolve not to take this approach. Here’s why.
It seem to me that it is proverbially leading the horses to water, but I’m pretty sure no one is drinking. We all probably know, or at least have a darn good guess, where each person on our ‘friends’ list stands on “The Issue”, if you know them at all. And yet still, we feel it our need to make our vote known to the world. But I wonder why? What’s the point? Is it to show solidarity with our side? Is it because we feel that it’s our duty to ‘defend’? Or, as I suspect, is it that we are hoping, in some small way, to actually have an influence in the discussion at large?
Which leads me to then wonder if a “less is more” approach might be better suited on such occasions. If you really are looking to make a difference by sharing your opinion…maybe rather that slapping up that plus or equal sign, or whatever is currently trending, maybe just an ambiguous statement, quote or question that makes people go “Huh??” Keep them guessing. It might make actually make someone *want* to know what you think…make them wonder why you’re taking a different route than everyone else. If someone actually ASKS you your opinion, you already have a more open door of influence than you would by the unsolicited statement. Maybe if we stop making declarations, and rather, draw people into a real, honest, loving, and intelligent dialogue, we might actually engage and garner some influence, as opposed to just planting ourselves and staking our flag with the group that already agrees with us.
Maybe not. I could be totally out in left field.
But then again…maybe. And in this case, I think, if the point of posting our stance is to ‘make a difference’, I wonder if we wouldn’t do well to take a lesson from my wise friend, and simply…
Salt the oats.