My children will never understand life without the Internet.
For them, the immediacy, scope and truly world-wide nature of the web is commonplace. And as is always the case, with technological shifts and advancement, comes its effects on many other seemingly unrelated areas.
Few places is this more obvious than social media. With single updates and posts, one person can reach audiences never before imagined. It’s as if the concept of communication itself has taken steroids, and ideas deemed singular and private now reach literally around the globe in seconds.
Pretty cool. But remember to consider a few principles to guide your electronic shot heard ’round the world.
Questions to ask yourself before you hit submit:
1. What’s my real motivation in posting this?
Before you hit submit, ask yourself why you’re about to hit submit.
Let’s cut to the chase. The “Like” counter can be intoxicating. Who thought a number in a red circle could affect us so? But if our only reason in posting something is ultimately to meet a self-esteem need, there are a few issues at play that need to be examined, off line.
Applause is nice, but it’s no substitute for you liking who you are. Why? Because internal angst trumps external praise every time. And when the day is done, it’s a long-form life we’re living, not a snapshot status update.
Of course, we shouldn’t deny it – public praise is naturally desired, and it does meet a certain need, but it can also become a drug.
- Before too long we’re “‘like’-counting”, reinforcing, rather than addressing insecurities when fewer than expected friends weigh in on what we’ve said.
- And even more significant, we can begin playing (or posting) to the masses, tossing out sure-fire updates, certain to resound in some echo chamber or another, thus garnering the desperately sought after accolades.
If you’re playing to the crowd, and what you’re saying is really simply an unspoken wish for recognition, do yourself a favor. Delete any draft, turn off the computer, and talk to someone. You can find help, but it won’t be virtual.
2. Would I say what I’m about to say if I was face-to-face with the person mentioned in my post?
Social media reveals bitterness. Real fast.
If you use a post or tweet to rail against someone and you’ve not had the integrity to address them privately, to put it candidly, your actions are revealing a significant lack of character. Drive-by bitterness doesn’t help anyone, and conflict resolution is meant to take place locally, not globally.
So the next time you’re tempted to broadside a seemingly worthy recipient, don’t. Be the bigger person. Pick up the phone, or meet them in person, and work things out like adults.
Resolving problems takes time, energy, and work, not a keyboard, mouse and 140 characters.
3. Have I spelled everything correctly?
OK, so this one’s not as philosophical as the others, but things like grammar, punctuation, and spelling matter. I repeat. They matter.
I know text messaging has introduced a whole separate abbreviated language, but is it that hard to check to ensure that what’s said is stated and spelled correctly? Of course, we’ll all have moments where we miss a punctuation mark or mispell a hard word (caught it, didn’t you? :-)) That’s understandable. But laziness, isn’t. Remember, presentation affects acceptance.
Just a few questions to honestly ask yourself.
There Their They’re pretty important.