It is amazing what is said today, and more what is posted!
Abraham Lincoln is quoted to have said, “It is better to be thought a fool and keep your mouth shut than to open it and remove all doubt.” I believe the same could be said of what we post and tweet today. There have been times that I have been grateful for the delete button on Facebook! I read along and decide to comment on something until I read it. You see, what is printed can never truly be retracted. Years ago I learned a difficult lesson about something that was put into print attributed to me. It did not matter what I said or how I refuted or the history of my actions to the contrary. If it is in print people believe it to be true. We have all made verbal blunders. I would suppose that many have made written ones too, especially with the rise of technology. Trust me, I love technology ( Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr) but we do need to be careful. Since everything that we put out there is virtually public knowledge, your next employer is likely doing a Bing or Google search to find your accounts. They want to see who you really are.
- Remember that one weekend of pics you were tagged in?
- Remember those sites you “liked”?
- Remember the comments you made about certain people?
- Remember the verbal rant and abuse you gave your friend all over Facebook?
Every one of those things can return to you whether you delete them off of your account or not. If someone else has tagged you, liked you, looked at you, someone else can find it. Savvy businesses are using this technology either for or against you. Here are a few rules to consider before speaking verbally or technologically.
1. Is it True? I know this seems simple but you would be amazed! Some people just do not take the time to investigate before putting things out there. The juicy tidbit you heard from a friend of a friend needs to be kept to yourself. Do not entertain it! Do not even engage it! In fact, stop your friend before they repeat it to you. While that is hard it must be done. So often we crave to be “in the know”. We desire to have the power of knowledge. What if it isn’t true? What is being said could just be hateful or said out of anger, jealousy, bitterness, etc. Take the time to know what it is true. In addition, make sure it is your story to tell. What you know may be facts, but is it your story to tell?
2. Is it Helpful? If we are not helping then we are hurting. Inaction is just negative action. Our words cut deep, so we need to make sure if we are helping or hurting the other person. Certain things may need to be said that will be helpful but not feel that way to start. For example, after my knee brought me to a stop on a rock road after falling off my bike the cleansing process hurt but was actually helpful. However, when someone asks you “Don’t you just love this …?”, you might not need to answer directly. Make sure we are being helpful to someone before speaking.
3. Is it Inspiring? Is what you say actually building another person up or tearing them down? Our culture feeds off of negative and cutting remarks. How much better would it be if we inspired each other to greatness instead of conspiring against each other to look great? “Spur one another on to love and good works”, the writer of Hebrews tells us. There are people over which you have influence. The larger issue is how are you inspiring them?
4. Is it Necessary? Does it need to be said or do you just need to say it? Read that carefully. Often, I find that people just need to voice their opinion more than what they say really needs to be said. We speak/post out of reaction more than response. Our reactions are emotional while our responses do involve more rationale. I have caught myself on occasion in the middle of a written response and stopped because what was being typed was not necessary. Have you noticed people who must own the last word or statement in a conversation? Listen to what they say and you will realize that much of it is unnecessary. When you get into the next fight with your spouse or child, consider if what you are going to say it truly necessary or if it is just unfair fighting. Do you really need to bring up an unrelated event from years ago in response to the current issue?
5. Is it Kind? Many of us were taught as children that if we have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all. Many papers, talk shows, and the like would be out of business if we actually followed this axiom. Yet, I think it would make a better culture. Why have we abandoned the kind word for the killer one? Imagine your words as they leave your mouth as a long unending wire. Every unkind thing is like adding a barb to that wire. Is there any place someone could cross your wire and not get cut? If not, an adjustment is needed.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (Proverbs 25:11 ESV)