Logical thinking tells us that everybody reads the actual article before posting a comment, right? Wrong! You would think so. However, every day I see people on social media who jump straight to the comment section and start sounding off, without even bothering to read the post.

How can you tell they didn’t read it?

These commenters stick out like a sore thumb. They are the ones that ask questions that were clearly answered within the post. They go off on tangents based upon only the perception of the title and picture. Many times their comments contain indigent grammar, and invalid points that lack facts. Since these commenters don’t have a clear understanding of the subject, it is not uncommon that they become hostile right away.

Have we reached a low point in our communications that people have become too lazy to actually read the information provided before they form their opinions? Has this become socially acceptable? Do people think they already know everything, so they don’t even need to bother reading the content? Here is a quote from a good friend of mine and fellow LinkedIn author, Milos Djukic, from his recent post,“Leadership and Successful Human Conversations.” For a very in-depth analysis of human conversations via social media, I highly recommend you read Milos’ post. His quote brilliantly summarizes this phenomenon:

The moment when we start to believe that we are influential is at the same time the final moment for our own rigorous review, reconsideration and implementation of all necessary corrections.

I think it is time for a reading intervention! A call to action for greater levels of social engagement to produce higher levels of understanding and learning.

Maybe you heard about the April Fools’ joke, National Public Radio (NPR), pulled on its followers last year? They produced a phony article with attached picture and published it on their website. The “article” was titled, “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore.” When clicking on the link to the article readers were greeted by this message:

Congratulations, genuine readers, and happy April Fools’ Day! We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven’t actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this “story.”

Sure enough, many people jumped straight to the comment section and were firing off. Many of whom were quick to defend their own reading habits. The irony was brilliant!

Here is one of the better comments that beautifully illustrates the point:

This article is horrible. Americans DO read, it’s disrespectful to intelligent americans to state as fact that america no longer reads. My daughter is second grade and her class is assigned at least one book a month to read. My wife is an avid reader and is even takes part in a weekly book club. As for myself, I read mainly ESPN and Sports Illustrated. America is a great and educated country, and one I am proud to live in.

This is a classic sound off failure! Not only does the comment show a complete lack of understanding, it is very poorly written. I am not an editor. However, by a quick count, I found seven grammatical errors contained within a short post.

If you are still confused about this, try my suggested order of operations:

1) Read the article.

2) Hit like.

3) Post a comment.

4) Share the article across all your social media.

5) Click on follow.

Okay, okay, numbers two through five are optional. However, should you want to Tweet about it, please consider using the hashtag #ReadingIntervention or just click below. As always, thank you for reading my post!

John White_Animated Image[3]About the Author: John White is the Chief Marketing Officer at Social Marketing Solutions, proud dad of 2 daughters, the LinkedIn group owner of Publishers and Bloggers, MBA candidate (Graduating in 2 weeks woohoo!), contributor to Dice Tech News, Linked Into Business, and more.

Need a blogger to help tell your company’s sustainability story and how you’re poised to save the world? Email me at john@socialmarketingsolutionsllc.net or call me direct at 970.692.3270.

Click here to view my other published articles on LinkedIn Pulse.

3 thoughts on “Before You Comment, Try Reading the Whole Story

  1. Great article John, thanks for mentioning me and quote. I’m deeply flattered my friend. Actual gurus are simple and ordinary people, usually pretty modest and approachable like you. That is why you are a social media guru.

  2. Totally agree with the article – even though I haven’t “liked” it yet. (There, that proves I actually read the article!)

    But then, there’s the other side of the coin — bloggers and authors who deliberately use provocative titles as click-bait. While they certainly deserve “uneducated” comments, the problem is that many readers react the same way even to well-written articles with relevant titles.

    IMHO, it’s just another tradeoff of the social media phenomenon we’ll have to live with. That may not be too difficult, because we have full control whether or not we want to read any or all the comments.

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