“Just because you can wear it, doesn’t mean you should wear it.” My grandmother said that to me when I was a pre-teen arguing with her about my wardrobe selections. She made me wear modest clothing when I so desperately wanted to live live by the, “If you have it, flaunt it.” motto.
When it comes to the way we communicate, we would all do well to take heed to my grandmother’s words. “Just because you want to say it, doesn’t mean you should.” In this post, I will give you 5 questions to ask yourself before you say, type, or text that message. Hopefully these questions will prevent you from public embarrassment or private shame later on. Have you noticed that Facebook posts have morphed from updates on mundane happenings to a personal soapbox where anything and everything goes? People post their most intimate and sometimes scandalous thoughts for their closest 50+ friends to see, share, like, and comment. When it comes to the message we put in the public area, where is the discretion? Where is the discernment? Where is the tact?
Ask yourself these five questions before you send that text, post that status, email that person, or leave that voice mail message:
1. Will I regret this in a day?
2. Will this strengthen or endanger my relationship?
3. Will my message be easily misinterpreted?
4. Is my message beneficial?
5. Is it worth the aftermath?
In his LinkedIn article, I am Leaving Social Media, NY Times best selling author & Social Media Strategist, Joel Comm, observed :
“Social media has made it incredibly easy to be rude to other people. Insults, put-downs, and outright meanness has become a staple of the social culture. Whether the discussion centers around politics, religion, sports, entertainment, lifestyle or any other subject, people have been desensitized to basic human kindness just because they can’t see or hear the people at their keyboards on the other end of the fiber cable.”
What is so wrong about holding our tongue? Because social media has made it easy to be rude without consequences, people will say just about anything without giving it any thought. Most of us would NEVER say what we write online in person. When I was in graduate school, my graduate thesis literature review showed that the use of CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) significantly changed not only what we communicated, but how we communicate. You can read one such study here. It also changes our beliefs about what is acceptable communication. The work of communication studies legend, Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves To Death, argued that the means of communication always changes the message. The Social penetration theory, a theory about how relationships develop, is fascinating alone but when you add technology based relationships to the mix, it becomes really becomes interesting (at least for communication geeks like me anyway). The point is that now, more than ever, we have to be mindful of what we say, online and offline. Everyone vents. The question is, do you need to vent online? Do you need to make a video and post it to YouTube about your latest tirade? We all have opinions. I am not advocating holding your tongue as much as I am advocating thinking about how you unleash it.
What other questions could ask ourselves before we post, text, tweet, etc online? Please leave your comment below.