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7 Questions to Ask Before You Post on Social Media

There is no doubt the impact of social media on our society. It’s huge.

It seemed strange the first time I heard a news story refer to a Twitter feed as a “source” of information. Now it’s commonplace. Employers often review a person’s social media prior to hiring them. Friendships are made and lost through what’s posted online. Who would have thought that just a few years ago? We now “follow” those we are most interested in and “unfollow” those we aren’t — yet we remain “friends”. The number of “likes” and “favorites” determines some people’s sense of well-being or worth for a day. Crazy.

But, it’s the culture in which we live.

More than likely, most of those who are reading this post will make a post of their own today. It could be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the other dozens of forms of social media. And, if not posting for yourself — you’ll be reading the post of another.

With so much activity it seems harder to know what to post and when. One thing I do frequently in my profession is help people think through making the right decisions in life. I don’t want to make decisions for people, so many times I use questions to help them process on their own. I thought I’d provide some questions to think through your social media posts.

Here are 7 questions to ask before you post on social media:

Who is going to read this?

Think through future employees, friends of friends, family members, etc. It’s amazing how many times I didn’t know someone was even keeping up with me comments on something I have posted.

How will it impact the reader?

How would it impact you if you were to read something like this? Would it hurt your feelings, make you angry, or would it motivate or encourage you? There’s nothing wrong with simply being funny or sharing something of interest — even helping to shape public opinion. But, a mature person (certainly a believer) thinks through how others will be impacted by what we post.

Will they understand my intent?

It’s more difficult to communicate intent in a written format. In person you would have more opportunity to explain yourself, use hand and facial gestures to help clarify, etc. Read it back to yourself and think like someone else who may be reading it — maybe someone who doesn’t know you well.

Can it easily be misconstrued or taken out of context?

Remember, you only have what’s written. There’s no “background” to the story or supplemental information. Will they “get” what you’re intending to be “got”?

Do I want this around for a very long time?

Because once it’s posted — it’s forever.

Am I acting in anger, frustration, or vengeance?

We seldom communicate most effectively when we act out of emotions. We usually say things we wouldn’t say under more “normal” circumstances. Do you need to hold the post until your emotions have calmed and see if you still feel the same way?

Is this the wisest way to express myself?

Or, is there a better way to accomplish what you hope to accomplish? For example, if it’s really aimed at only one person, would it be better to make a phone call? If it’s addressing a larger concern, is your post going to make things better — or further add negativity to an already tense situation?

These are just suggestions. You may also read 7 Ways Christians Should Behave Online or 12 Ways Christians Can Be Less Mean.

Are there any questions you would add to help us discern better posts?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • kmac4him says:

    God sends us where the people are, He is constantly reaching for us. I highly suggest an online mission. I know when God called me online, I was like: "You have got to be kidding me"… but He wasn't and just as Ron has posted some incredible wisdom for us today, I learned and grew through with God and saw that online ministry is completely viable, because God is in it. His Word no matter online or face to face, when it is spoken, it does not return void. Ask God if He wants to send you out, possibly to twitterverse… never thought I would be hearing myself say that… BUT God, He makes the times, creates the seasons so He has gone before us and is totally up with all of this! So go ye therefore… and be equipped by God and His Godly leaders. Thanks Ron!

  • jimpemberton says:

    This is a much needed list. Regarding the last item, "Is this the wisest way to express myself," the honest answer may often be "I don't know". Knowing the answer takes some experience and humility. That is to say that not knowing will generally result in unwise approaches. Wisdom beyond that is being willing to recognize and offer apologies for misspeaking, correcting errors, and intentionally striving for balance and humility online. The more congenial one is, the more capital one has to occasionally make strong statements that are valuable to the online community.

    Another factor in wisdom is knowing who to respond to. There are people aptly called "trolls". Interact with enough trolls and you learn that they aren't interested in a reasonable discussion. Their goal is to eat other people's articles and comments for lunch, sometimes just for the fun of it, and sometimes to direct people toward their own site. They can suck the life out of reasonable discussion. So if you discern that the person you feel motivated to respond to is a troll, often the best response is no response. Trolls negate helpful answers to any of these questions.

  • Hope says:

    Something not everyone pays attention to but I believe they should be more conscious of: when sharing a picture or post originally made by another person or group, am I certain the group whose name is associated with it is one that I have no problems having my name associated with? I've seen some really good posts or pictures that friends have shared on Facebook that were originally posted by groups with offensive or questionable names or purposes. I don't believe my friends that shared it necessarily are endorsing that group, but we can't know if it might be misinterpreted by a non-Christian friend or a Christian friend whose faith and/or understanding of how social media works is weaker than my own. So if I truly feel led to still share it despite the questionable group associated with it, I either save it to my phone or PC and share it straight from there, or if it is a text only type post, I will copy and paste (or re-type) it, giving mention to finding it shared by "someone" on Facebook… 🙂

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