Whenever I am asked to share with a group on social media I can’t get away from the subject of how we use our words. The top social networks Facebook & Twitter revolve around features that simply and quickly allow you to write short updates. These updates have allowed us to pour out our hearts & minds at an ever excelerating rate, to an alarming number of people. No invention in history has expanded our potential to communicate then social media. I believe it will even have a wider spread impact then Gutenberg’s Printing Press. You see the printing press gave a small minority of people who knew how to write the ability to communicate to another small group of people who knew how to read. Even today it is only a select few authors who have the ability to write a printed book and have it read by millions of people. Now comes along social media. If you just took Facebook alone you have 1/6th of the planet with the power to write anything at the click of a button. Then what they write has the ability and potential to be read by millions.
Proverbs 10:19 says “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Never before has this simple proverb been more relevant. Words get us into a lot of trouble. So much conflict comes from the simplest of miscommunications. From people reading or hearing our words and interpreting them through their own lens. A lens that comes with it’s own history, it’s owns hurts, rejections & failures. We read what others post, and write our own posts, through a context created by our own personal experiences & what we know. It is this context that so often gets us into trouble. Famously Ashton Kutcher handed over the reigns of his Twitter account to a PR firm because of this exact thing. He posted his opinion about something before he knew the context. He jumped to conclusions about people’s motives and got caught red handed.
So what can we do to get better at this? Honestly I think back to that Proverb. We need to get better at holding our tongues. It is in this holding that we can process our words and think about the context. We can think about the lens we are writing from and then who our audience is. The next time you go to post something on Twitter or Facebook try writing it down on a notepad first, wait a few hours, then read it back to yourself. Does it still mean the same thing when read again? What do you think are the ways others could misinterpret it? A simple pause combined with a few questions could transform our social media.
This morning as I prepared to write this blog I had the famous saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” come to mind. Though not in it’s usual form and I think it sums up perfectly what I am trying to get across.
“A picture is worth a thousand words and our words seen as a thousand pictures”. #socialmedia