This post was inspired by a Mashable article floating around the internet on questions one should ask themselves before participating in social media banter. Online norms are difficult to keep up with- how can you be sure that the emoji you’ve chosen is not an unintentional innuendo, but an actual eggplant reference? Communication online is tied to many cultural, generational and professional constraints. Being sure you are saying what you really mean is increasingly important when (as you should know by now) everything you say and do online is permanent and discoverable by your friends, future/current employers, family, and that one person’s ex-step cousin you met at a conference last year that ended up on your account while bathroom cyberstalking. In other words, your every internet move matters. Run through a checklist of things before you post! You should hold yourself accountable enough to come up with a list of things that best suits your online behavior, but here’s another handful of reminders to consider:
- Are you emotionally biased?
- Are you hangry?
- Is this offensive politically? Religiously?
- Are you an expert on this subject?
- Does this reflect what you really mean?
- What do you get out of this interaction?
- Is less more?
- Do you need more pictures of your meals? Dogs? Kids?
- Do you care?
- Does anyone else?
At the end of the day, if you are unsure, don’t. As the Mashable article suggests, pick up the phone. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while instead of posting something snarky about the latest trend or debate happening on your timeline. I know, these articles urging you to censor yourself online are repetitive, but it will not hurt you to take a step back. Try to be more deliberate with your word in every aspect of your life. You will find that when you are communicating authentically and deliberately you will be taken more seriously! Things will be more clear. Start with simple changes such as killing the habit of saying “sorry” instead of “excuse me.” The “say what you mean, mean what you say” cliche goes a long way. Be confident that you are never compromising your character for the sake of internet attention or real life acceptance.
Now, go make your own internet and daily communication guidelines. Put your best self forward (and erase some selfies/ clean up your profiles).