Perry Timms writes on social HR and asks the questions we should all we asking about the workplace. He has over 20 years experience in business change including project management, organisational development, talent strategy and L&D. He is well-known on the blogger and event circuit and is regularly asked to chair conferences, roundtables and webinars, both in the UK and around Europe. Perry is a CIPD adviser on social media and engagement.

Fear the unemotional Robots? Maybe, but you try dealing with their clever – and at times downright anti-social – human counterparts. At times, I’d take Ava from Ex-Machina as a conversation partner anytime.

I’m a bit naive. And at times, to some even stupid. And a bit lame with some examples to justify my point. I read a blog only recently that called people stupid because they believed in a certain style of working. That’s just insulting, childish and in my view makes the author look like a cocksure, arrogant and yes, anti-social snob.

I can get excited about stuff other people just laugh at…

I show interest in some stuff that comes from Business School Professors and thought leaders that others dismiss as hype.

I go to conferences a lot and post slides and tweet things I think are useful and interesting. I annoy the stuffing out of some of my followers with my incessant optimism. I had someone DM me not to clutter their timeline. So I invited them to mute me or similar. I was so enthused about what I was hearing I wanted others to feel some of that sense of positivity. In the end, I unfollowed them and then blocked them so they wouldn’t suffer any more of my interference with their world.

I share what I feel; that there’s better stuff coming over the hill. I can see how the things I’ve come to detest and that aren’t good for me are because they’re orthodoxies and I desperately want new things to happen – new things I see in pockets or read about in a blog/book/HBR (delete as appropriate).

I like new ways of thinking and doing creative stuff in my profession. I sometimes jump on a bit of a bandwagon. Like the word disruption.

Plenty of folks detest that word. And probably think I’m a bit of a schmuck for using that word. I like it and it means something to me about innovating, challenging and being different. Those things are all important to me so that’s why I use that word at times. OK it can get a bit over-used but then that’s what happens with popularity and adoption – it gets used a lot.

I like working without email where possible. I bemoan the time I wasted in corporate meetings when I had a job. Some people openly call me out for being a hipster or on trend and being a smartphone app-using mug. Fine but I’ve lots of reasons for that and I’m happy to share them with people and allow them to either reject or be intrigued by my discoveries.

I think the gig economy is largely a good thing. I am so over hierarchies and believe in self-organised teams. Others think that’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. I just believe it can be a force for good. I don’t say everyone should go for it. I see a rise in people making choices about who they work with and doing it differently.

I could slag off the current ways of working but instead I prefer to highlight the alternatives and allow people to make their choices.  So I don’t expect people to kick the crap out of my musing on it just because they don’t like it or think I’m being daft or hip.

I like the future of work a lot.

There’s hope and optimism there for me and I need those in my life. It annoys the crap out of some people I suspect. This constant fixation and unrest and so I hear sometimes “what about now?” What’s the phrase? “Be in the moment”.

Yeah but I think I love the art of the possible (what I might paint) rather than the piece of work I’ve just done which is now ready to hang on the wall.

There’s more about me that I could share but this blog isn’t about me per se, it is a bit of a confessional I suppose. I don’t profess to be an expert – I say I’m an enthusiast. I am an experimenter and a hunches kind of person. I don’t always have facts to back me up, because a lot of what I talk about is a hypothesis or a live trial of something. 

So I just thought I’d get that out there as people are probably thinking that and it’s been posted about me in the past too. I can take it. I believe in what I believe in. People aren’t necessarily going to change my mind or stop me from going for what I feel is right to go for. 

So with that baggage out of the way, I’m calling out an interesting phenomenon I’m seeing a bit more of on social networks: the “calling out” in public of people who’re posting (what some people feel is) tripe or there’s some corrections people feel obliged to share in public.

Like the guy who (seemed) to want to embarrass the sales person on LinkedIn by not blurring their name out of the screen grab he took, and posted all over the social web (well, LinkedIn) his disdain for his sales tactic and generally embarrassed the guy publicly. It backfired though as the guy who posted it got stick for shaming the sales guy. The sales guy might have even got some business out of it he didn’t expect.

So it is with stuff we post about our views and opinions. Jumped on and assaulted by cleverer others who seem to forget there’s private message functions to this social media world and allow you the chance to correct if you have messed up. I’ve had a PM from someone with a contra view and it was a much more pleasant way of dealing with some mis-directed thoughts and musings on the world.

The public humiliation and trial by blog-post thread arguments all seems incredibly petty and at times, they border on trolling.

That kind of weapon of mass indignation is a bit anti-social and seems to spark spats; withdrawals and causes embarrassment. 

As does posting stuff on blogs in the definite about things which are a little ambiguous or emerging. Some people, whom others regard for telling it how it is (or shooting their mouth of – whichever you feel is most appropriate) will suck up and post “this is amazing” and it can get a bit cringeworthy.

It can also get very personal and name calling and playground antics deployed where people really should know better. I prefer to ignore such posting and just get on with my views of the world.

We’re all at different levels of discovery, intellect and “horsepower” about the world we’re in now and are headed towards. Snarking, trolling and vitriol don’t really do much good other than raise tension and emotions to a level where it becomes more about verbal cage-fighting rather than a private and useful intellectual and philosophical spar behind closed doors.

If you struggle to see this on social networks, try some of the comments sections on online newspaper articles. It’s ugly, vulgar and nasty at times.

Respect, kindness and humility aren’t always at the front of people’s minds when outraged by another post on Dan Pink’s Drive theory or a slightly misquoted example. The recent AI bot on Twitter experiment turned out to be a vile and racist set of posts – based on the algorithm reading human beings postings and the machine learning that this was what got a reaction and sparked conversations. Oh dear.

Be careful and compassionate, generous and gentle with your intellect. Intellect is a hard-earned gift, not a weapon.

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