My title is NOT a direct quote from AR, it is tongue in cheek.
Those who post in the political forums know that AR does not take kindly to some of the antics they see. A news timely blog turns into a fist fight. Food fight would be far too tame a description
- One side or the other cries foul. Tempers flare and inappropriate comments are made. The blog turns into a street rumble akin to the Jets and the Sharks, not a discussion. Members post on blogs just to be disruptive or to malign the integrity of the blogger.
- The real message the blogger intended to convey becomes long lost. Members who are reading the blogs and gaining insight are appalled by the conduct. They may have an opinion but are scared off from commenting for fear they will be targeted by a few.
The red flags start shooting into AR like flaming arrows. AR is flooded with phone calls and emails from irate members. AR founders are left to sort out the various hostile eruptions and become score keepers of behavior. Obviously they would prefer to dedicate their time to site building and business expansion.
Active Rain was formed as a social and business networking site for Real Estate Professionals and their related industries. The people who are members bring with them experiences not only profession related but life related. It would be naive to think that members would limit their "social" exchanges to the narrow subject of Real Estate. The "water cooler" temptation exists within most of us.
- We as Realtors make our living "talking". Not writing contracts, negotiating price or writing advertising scripts. We have to talk our way into a listing or sale before we can roll up our sleeves and go to work. Without speech we do not work.
- Our relationships with our clients is based on our conversations and the manner in which we portray ourselves. While some may not believe it, those who have strong political opinions know to park those opinions with the car.
You cannot live without having some kind of social interaction. Realtors, like Doctors, or Painters, or Shop owners seek out others in their profession to communicate with and share ideas. After all, the underlying bond is the profession you have in common.
You meet at professional functions, where the public is not invited, and reach out to one an other. Rarely do you attend any local or national Real Estate event without conversation digressing to other topics.
- While the taboos of Religion, Sex and Politics are not appropriate to discuss with clients, it is perfectly acceptable, and does occur in a closed social environment.
There are thousands of groups formed on AR that do not have Real Estate roots here are a few:
Walking by Faith Senior Issues Square Pegs Baseball Talk Calling all Nurses
Parrotheads Parents of Special Needs Children Cosmic Cow Pie Book Club
Around the Water Cooler Movie Club Road Trips AR Rotarian's AR Gutter
Singles with Positive Attitudes Serial Monogamy Paranormal Experiences
Within these groups people share, encourage, offer advice, and learn from each other. They make friendships that are nurtured beyond the confines of AR.
Group members pick up the phone or email members to further discuss one on one their common interest. Relationships are developed in depth. Do they relate to Real Estate? Ultimately they do and will.
When a breast cancer survivor from Texas meets and forms a bond with another from New Jersey they simultaneously nurture their "business associations". The chance of a referral increases when you have a personal as well as business relationship with a member.
- Are political groups designed differently? Political groups were formed for the same reasons. It is however a passionate topic.
Go to the Parents of Special Needs Children and post that you believe the parents should be responsible for educating their children and not taxpayers. Get ready to DUCK! I guarantee as much heat and passion will be expounded on that site as is elicited on a political site.
- Should the Political groups be private and only open to those who join? If they are, then all non-related real estate groups should be private as well.
Members often stray to groups they don't belong to when they have a current interest or wish to ask a question of another member. If you want to know about the latest movie critique from unbiased people - jump over to the movie group. Why should access be limited?
- Why do the political groups go so far astray? You have only to follow the comments and the individuals who post them to answer that for yourself.
There are two types of commentators. Those who present their differing opinion by posting concrete cohesive thoughts, verses those who become polarized on one phrase in a post and are determined to discredit the poster just out of plain meanness. They offer no valid counters to the point and the aim is to hijack the topic or discourage meaningful dialogue between interested parties.
Recently I posted a blog in the political groups concerning pending legislation that could adversely impact mortgage brokers. Another member who is in the mortgage industry found the information that I presented worthy of reblogging and passing along the message.
While the post covered other industries and was political in nature, this member realized that within that innocuous looking piece of legislation, there was a real concern for the mortgage industry. Isn't this part of the reason we belong to Active Rain? To share with others who are like minded.
- The solution to the current strife we are experiencing could lie with the moderators of each political group or the bloggers themselves. Eliminate comments that are off topic, nasty, vituperative, contain embarrassing profanity or attacks on other members. Make it a point to exert editorial license in the interest of all.
My message to Active Rain, for your consideration is this, over 160,000 people belong and communicate peaceably every day.
- Only a handful display a tendency to disrupt or silence opposing views. I offer no solution directed at any specific members. It is your business and you alone control membership in the organization. When you are considering your course of action I believe political discussions are an intricate part of our industry and should not be disrupted.
We live in harrowing and tempestuous times. Our economy is fragile and far from cured. Political issues strike at the heart of every industry that exists in America today. Active Rain is one of them.
- Many of our members come to Active Rain to get caught up on news or events after a long day. They missed the news or did not get a paper. Perhaps they do not trust all the news outlets to be unbiased or balanced. Perhaps they follow one or more political bloggers here who presents opinion they value. Being informed and able to form an opinion is critical to the survival of our industry and our lives. Without watch dogs who will sound the alarm?
We have some incredibly intelligent members who often leave me spellbound and speechless by their blogs. I learn from the likes of them and often alter my viewpoint based on their comments and sources.
I am more informed than I have ever been in my life. I have expanded my scope and understanding on the pressing issues both domestically and internationally that impact my home, my family and my business. I am better qualified to support or oppose an issue based on fact not feeling.
- I often communicate privately with those members who inspire me, and have built a professional respect for them and a trust. Should I have a need for a colleague in Your Town USA I know who I can trust and refer to.
As our Country goes - so goes Active Rain.
Anything that happens in Washington impacts every member here and their livelihood.
Without our livelihood we have no need for Active Rain.
We are all in this together and should be able to discuss anything free from threats or shackles.