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Social Networking & Social Change (for the worse)

The past two weeks I’ve had a lot of distractions, well one distraction really, my wife Donna (as many of you already know) is suffering from kidney failure. We had a hiccup in the road last week and I had to rush her to the hospital to have a stone removed. We are still on track for the transplant (I’ll share more in another post tomorrow about where we are in the process), but even as distracted as I was worrying about my wife I couldn’t help but notice the turmoil and tragedy that has taken place in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas.

Racism is one of the ugliest things, in my opinion, that is in existence today. I think it’s just as ugly as radical islamic terrorism, and even child molestation. It literally infuriates me. Let me give you a little background…

I grew up in a very racially divided part of Arkansas known as the Mississippi Delta. Not many miles from our family farm one of the worst atrocities in the history of civil rights happened, the Elaine Race Riots. If you are not familiar, I invite you to checkout this documentary paid for by the Rockefeller Foundation. Fortunately my family wasn’t involved but we have witnessed racial division in our community. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve even been on the wrong side of history many times when it comes to racial issues. I’ve always done my best to be respectful of everyone as an adult, which is why sometimes I feel convicted for things I did in my earlier years, or even ideas I might have had or opinions I’ve held but never acted on.

I started my educational process in an all-white private school and spent my elementary years there –but transferred to a public school because I wanted to play football for the mighty Barton Bears who still carry the states longest winning streak and consecutive state championships.

I think a lot of my friends and family wondered how I would fit into a segregated school such as Barton. I never had a moments worry. In fact, I loved the diversity and cultural differences (which I found to be very similar to my own). To this day I have many friends that I’ve stayed in touch w/ via social media that are from different racial backgrounds that I went to school with. I think of them no differently than I do my white classmates.

In my professional life I’ve worked w/ people from many different racial and ethnic backgrounds, always on equal footing. I’ve never been taken advantage of and I’ve never tried to take advantage of anyone else.

This past week w/ all of the protests and rallies for the “Black Lives Matter” movement I allowed myself to rant things or echo sentiments that others were sharing that I somewhat agreed with. I’ve never policed or censored my social media accounts and have always let everyone practice their free speech (as long as it wasn’t laden with obscenities, etc.). Well, I let my guard down, and I let my followers down, apparently I’m viewed as an “influencer” because I have a high number of followers and friends. Therefore I bear more responsibility in what message I allow to show up in my comment threads. I understand that now.

It’s for this reason that I’m formally apologizing here (and recently did on Facebook as well) for allowing things to escalate beyond a comfortable dialogue. In fact I have a few instances where friends went after one another in comment threads and even a few inbox messages w/ obscenities where hurled at complete strangers that the only common denominator was that they each knew me. This saddens me to no end.

I made a vow this past week that I would no longer allow “destructive commentary” on my posts and would do my prayerful best to engage my following in “constructive commentary”.

This is going to be a lot harder than it might sound. I’m so used to taking a “hot button political issue” and turning it into an all-night debate between my conservative and liberal friends. I would enjoy the debate not because of the conflict but selfishly because I have very intelligent friends on both sides of the aisle that add valuable insight to things that I might not have ever given thought.

As I mentioned though, those days of raucous debate and “destructive commentary” are hopefully behind me. I do however intend to stay engaged on social media, but in a much different way. My goal is to provide positive, uplifting, funny, and yes –sometimes weird & twisted content (but twisted in a good or funny way). My yardstick for sharing content moving forward will be knowing that one day my son will be able to review all of my postings and rants. It’s like the old saying goes “you can’t take the pee-pee out of the swimming pool” but I can do my best to make sure he sees a direct change and a lesson learned by his dad and he will have the benefit of not having to go down that dark road himself. (hopefully).

I’m asking for all of you, my followers and friends, to be my accountability partners. Don’t worry about offending me, it takes a whole lot to make me mad and a slap on the wrist or even an inbox message in all caps isn’t going to break my spirit. In fact, I want to have a teachable spirit moving forward.

I hope this clears up my new philosophy toward social media moving forward. Things sure aren’t the way they used to be when myself and a few friends were pioneering the usage of these new fangled tools called Twitter and Facebook here in Central Arkansas, things sure have taken a turn. I can’t point to what it is that’s changed, but I know for sure the world is different now.

We, as a society, don’t know how to disagree and work toward resolutions. A shining example is how ineffective our government operates. We tend to get dug into our ideas and our willingness to bend or negotiate has morphed into hate speech and hurtful comebacks to one another. God, I pray this changes for the sake of our children. We’ve let things get out of hand for too long…

About Cotton Rohrscheib

Cotton Rohrscheib is the CEO of Rohrscheib Capital Partners. Over the past 20 years he has been associated with numerous projects in the IT, Healthcare, and Agriculture industries. Born a serial entrepreneur, Cotton has personally been involved in several startups, product launches, and brand acquisitions during his career and has consulted on hundreds of projects for clients around the world. Today he still services the marketing and consulting needs for clients while trying to maintain a healthy balance between work and being a good husband and father to his wife, Donna, and their son, Spencer.