At Social Cindy, we build websites and perform social media for small companies. Because of that, we are on the web constantly. We look for trending topics, for new ways to make our sites show up in search engines, and we see Facebook and Twitter posts from all over the world. Some of what we see is appalling. I am going to share something I perhaps shouldn’t, but I am going to anyways. Be careful what you post.
When I was growing up, my Mom gave me some advice, and when I would do things in the heat of the moment and forget what she told me, I have always regretted it. She said, “Cindy, never ever put anything in writing that you don’t want to be used against you someday.” Sage advice that all too many of us don’t heed these days.
I would like to offer you a suggestion. As you begin to type out a post, or a comment on something another person has posted, picture yourself sitting across from that person. Then say the words aloud, before you type. IF it still sounds like something you would say in person, in the same tone, then by all means go ahead and type. If you would hesitate to say those things to the person’s face, then don’t type it. Plain and simple.
I think it’s all too easy to get caught up in the wave of vitriol and to say things we might not really mean. Remember, what goes on the web stays on the web. Even if we later regret what we have typed, and we go back and delete those words, someone can always take a screenshot and save those words.
Since the last election, things have gotten so hateful on the various social media outlets that it has been at times difficult to do my job. I find myself worn out and a little sad more often than I should be. And some of these posts come from people who I know to be good-hearted, kind, and generous.
The biggest impact of all of this, I believe, has been on our young. The most disturbing part is that it’s now being brought over into personal interactions. Teens telling other teens to kill themselves. That’s just so far from a good thing to do that I can’t even find words.
Listen, we are all different. I have never been one who fits in. I am a little loud, I love to laugh and joke and make people laugh. I often speak my mind because I don’t have a natural filter. But I also am empathic. I hurt when others hurt. I will go out of my way to help people. If the only thing people know of me is the harsh words I have written in the heat of something, that would be sad.
So I have been making it a rule to keep the harsh stuff to myself or to a conversation in person, where I can see how the other person feels about what I am saying. I don’t want my forever legacy to be some off-the-cuff comment I made in response to something that got me fired up.
Don’t forget this. Someone you want to be in a relationship with, business or professional, is very likely to check you out. What is it you want them to think about you? What do you want prospective employers or clients to think about you?
Remember, before you hit send, stop and read it again.