A few years ago, I developed some questions to consider before I post on social media. While I don’t ask them every time I post, (probably should) my hope is that with this paradigm in my mind it will keep me from regretting as many posts later.
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.
It’s the culture in which we live.
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. Many times I use questions to help people process on their own. So, here are some of my questions to help you think through your social media posts. (If you choose to use them.)
7 questions I consider before I 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 my 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 say – and therefore what we post.
Two other good questions to consider here. Will it be helpful? Or, will it only cause more division or harm?
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. (This one alone has caused me to delete a few posts before they went live.)
Am I acting in anger, frustration, or vengeance?
We seldom communicate most effectively when we act out of emotions. Instead, we 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? (This works before you press send on the email also.)
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? Again, the “is it helpful” question works here too.
Obviously, my audience is mostly followers of Christ. I would think we would want to guard our influence and reputations online as much as we would in person. How can we best communicate love to people? But I also think these question may be helpful for all of us – as mature members of our communities – even our online communities.