Dear Goodwill Gail,
There are several members of my ALA unit who are also friends on social media. Some of those members post political opinions and engage in banter that is negative and borderline offensive. It’s obvious from some of their profile pictures and posts that they are ALA members. I’m afraid people outside of our organization will think these members’ posts and comments represent the views of our unit. Should I be concerned?
Be Nice On Social Media
Dear Be Nice On Social Media,
You have good reason to be concerned regarding how others view members of the American Legion Auxiliary on social media. Opinions are often formed by what people read online. When someone reads a post or comment and knows the poster is associated with the ALA, the reader may connect those opinions with our organization.
It is important to remember that the American Legion Auxiliary is an apolitical organization. This means we do not take sides on political issues or align with one particular political party. Our mission is to serve veterans, military servicemembers, and their families.
There are steps all of us can take to prevent others from thinking poorly of the ALA on social media. Before you post, think to yourself:
- Will this post offend anyone or make someone think less of me? It may not be your intent to offend anyone, but certain topics may be controversial or polarizing. You might think all of your followers feel the same, so there is no harm in posting. But you never know for sure. You also don’t know who may share that post with the masses.
- Is this something I would say in public to a large group of people? Before you hit the “post” button, stop and ask: If I was standing in front of a crowd of people, would I share this opinion? If not, don’t post it. If you wouldn’t say it out loud, don’t say it in print.
- Are my comments negative or condescending? Comments follow you, and maybe later, haunt you. Others can see the comments you make, even if they are not friends with you. If your profile identifies you an ALA member, people may associate your comments with the organization.
- Is this the right place for my comment? You may want to react to a post, but it may be a comment that is better made in private. Instead of posting publicly, you can respond by sending the poster a private message.
- Is this picture appropriate? A picture can speak louder than words. If you or others are drinking, smoking, or making an obscene gesture in the picture, you may want to refrain from posting it. Yes, it is your personal account, but others may tie these activities to your ALA unit. Use your best judgement. However, always adhere to these standards when posting about an ALA-sponsored event or wearing ALA branded clothing or accessories.
Posting political views about veterans, military, and their families on social media is unlikely to bring change. However, if you want to make a difference, there are things you can do outside of social media. Contact your local politicians and share your opinions with them. This is a productive way to get your voice heard.
Keep a positive tone. Social media is a great place to brag about the work your unit is doing. Share pictures of your unit wearing ALA branded clothing while serving the mission or doing other good deeds in your community. It’s also a helpful tool in communicating your unit’s events, fundraisers, meetings, or other activities.
In the Spirit of Service Not Self,
Have you had a conflict within your unit and need recommendations on how to reach a resolution or compromise? Goodwill Gail is here to help members resolve issues within the American Legion Auxiliary. Send your questions to pr@ALAforVeterans.org with the subject line “Goodwill Gail.” We’ll create a pen name so you can remain anonymous.