Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Think Before You Post

The famous evangelist D.L. Moody once said "Character is what you are in the dark." What this means is a person's true character comes out when others cannot see what the person is doing.

I was prompted to write by a post I saw on facebook this week where someone was ranting about how they blasted their neighbor who's child had threatened their child. This person seemed to be looking for someone to agree that their actions were justified and necessary. This person freely and openly shared about how they apparently put the "fear of God" into the neighbor in order that they nor their children would have no further contact with their child.

I was very tempted to comment under the post something like ...."Way to go! You sure taught your neighbor a lesson. Wonder what lesson your children learned from all this??" Ok, maybe now I am ranting too. Guilty.

The point is this ..... Technology is a very powerful tool. Social media is a powerful tool. It can be used to build up or to tear down. It enables you to develop relationships with lots of people and is a great tool for networking. But alot of people can get the wrong idea about social networking from observing the type of negative behavior that I mentioned in the story above.

The fact is what this person was doing has a name and it's called CYBERBULLYING. The anonymity factor that the Internet provides allows users to have instant access to their victims and a wide audience for their bullying behavior. Cyberbullies are more likely to be women than men, because they don't need to be physically superior to their victims, and they often act impulsively without thinking through the consequences of their actions.

Personally, I have also been the target of rude facebook behavior, or let's call it what it really is .... CYBERBULLYING, and it wasn't pleasant.

Because alot of adults who are "digital immigrants" have not been educated regarding cyber ethics, we are seeing a great deal of misuses today of technology "power tools". Here are some guidelines that I share in my workshop entitled "Your Online Presence" about using social media responsibly.

1. Don't post anything you wouldn't want your mother to hear (includes content or images).

Social media is not private. Once you post you have no control over what happens to your message. Many are under the impression that their audience is limited to their friends but they are more often mistaken about who has access to their posts.

2. Don't be passive- agressive.
Even if you don't mention the person by name, there's a good chance someone will know who you are talking about. You not only do damage to your relationships but to your own reputation as well.

3. Don't have arguments on social media.
Praise publicly and critize privately. Having an argument using social media demonstrates you don't really care about finding a resolution.

4. Don't whine.
No one wants to hear a constant complainer. Keep your "tweets sweet".

5. Do be real.
People connect on social media because they want to get to know the real you. Don't shoot off stuff that sounds like it came from a Hallmark card.

6. Do connect with other people.
Use social media to connect with people you can learn from, who can learn from you and people you would like to know better. Don't be afraid to be selective, choose people you want to follow based on the value you will develop from the relationship.

Ok, I feel better now. In writing this article, I reminded myself that I can learn something even from the negative behavior I see in others. Plus, the fact that there are plenty of people out there that are in need of this message. We are all in process of learning and growing, me included. Hopefully, I have shared something here that is valuable enough to make you "think before you post".

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