The Social Media Breathe Rule: Take a Moment Before Posting
Yeah, I’m talking to you. And you over there trying to sneak out of the room? I’m definitely talking to you. Sit yo ass back down, we gotta have a talk…
Friends…let’s just settle our QWERTY fingers down a little bit, shall we? Remember that old adage your parents used to say about not attending every fight you’re invited to? Oh… no one ever told you that. Hmm… don’t take offense here, but I can tell. There are quite a few times when I myself have typed, backspaced, typed, backspaced and just ended up having to hit the little X in the corner because I had a Mom like Thumper who said "if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all."
Social media, social LIFE in general, is not out there to be your personal punching bag. You tippity type it out, hit send (or tweet, or post, or publish…) and it’s out there. And yes there’s a delete button, but you can’t really take it back. There’s some crazy on the other side hitting refresh a billion times, and they’ve already read what you wrote anyway.
And I’m not just talking about your everyday drama-laden “it’s tough to be a human” fishes for sympathy either. Even on that horrific Friday, when all the tragedy of Newtown was all over the web, I can’t recall the number of false ‘facts’ I got from news stations, reputable news stations, in those first few frantic hours.
It’s this shooter, no sorry, wrong guy. His mom was the teacher, no sorry, she wasn’t even there. There’s X many dead, no sorry, there’s more. They’re searching for the girlfriend, the girlfriend is dead, there was no girlfriend… it made my head spin. And it made me sick to my stomach.
There is a strange sub-level of trust to what’s placed online. We’re quick to nod in approval or shake our fists in dismay, a retweet before we even get to the last three words because we liked the first five. A Facebook ‘like’ because you want to be in on the discussion/drama, but you don’t actually have anything to contribute.
Then, of all the first world problems in all the world, Instagram puts out a new Terms of Service and half the privileged mothers on the planet (myself included) go bat shit crazy that Zuckerberg is going to sell that picture of their grande-latte-beside-their-baby-eating-a-cake-pop to Starbucks and make millions. One person posts their well-worded outrage and we think “Yeah! You’re not getting a picture of MY kid! Watermarks! Private accounts! IG REVOLUTION! EVERYONE TO FLICKR IMMEDIATELY IF NOT SOONER!” (I admit, I was one of those people at first. I opened a Flickr account. But some a-hole took the name mrshiggison and they made me put a _ in my name there. Because I am a similar kind of a-hole I probably won’t use it much… confession! but find mrs_higgison anyway, if you want!)
My point is this: I would like for us all to breathe, for just a second, before we post.
Consider how our words will be received. Consider the words in the first place. Consider the truth of what you’re writing, how you would feel reading it in maybe six months. If you’re angrily talking about someone else, consider how they will feel reading it… and knowing others were reading it too.
These bandwagons we’re jumping on are not all that comfortable, once we’re up here. Crowded altogether, wondering what our neighbour is thinking. In our rush to be “first,” in our haste to get noticed, we are side-stepping our humanity and our obligation to be just plain NICE. I’m far from a wholesome, tight-lipped citizen out to spread bubbles and sparkles and miles and miles of good cheer. But I am starting to feel a little ashamed of my first instinct to toss out that witty thought before I’ve really thought it through.
I’m not hopping off Instagram, I’m not deleting my Facebook account, I’m not getting rid of my Twitter. But I think I’m going to take some of my own advice and simmer down a little. Let the bandwagons mostly pass me by. I’d be thrilled if you joined me on the sidelines. It’ll be fun, I swear it. I have champagne! I have my little core group of people who accept my moods and my crazy and my every passing thought, off line. They calm me down or rile me up as the situation warrants. It’s my wish that you have that for yourself. (And thank you ladies and gents in my inner circle for holding the weight of my crazy, i looooooove you.)