Three Mistakes We All Make on Social Media

Social Media is an inescapable culture that permeates every aspect of our lives. Trouble begins when we forget the rules of human engagement. Here are three common mistakes we’ve all made on-line and how to avoid them.

We don’t think before we post

My eleven year-old grandson is a wonderful kid. But his brain is still wired for a binary stimulus / response. Like many his age, he’s constantly walking back things he says after he’s had a chance to think about their impact.

So much of what is on-line is designed to shock us. From the cute videos with a funny twist at the end to vitriolic political memes, we can’t be certain how our content will be processed in the current mindset of our readers. Sensitivity to how our written words are perceived is often missing in worlds where we have been trained to give an instant retort.

Imagine everyone you encounter is carrying some burden you know nothing about. Craft what you write with that thought in mind and your feedback will always lean in the positive direction.

We don’t fact check what we share

False or twisted truths propagate with viral speed. We can inadvertently attribute outright lies to people who never said them. Even worse are the memes which take someone’s words out of context, or quote long-discredited “news” stories. In some cases, these posts are created by people with a political agenda and are designed to foment fear among the faithful.

When something seems too strange to be true, it likely isn’t. Fact check with Snopes or a trusted source before sharing.

We evaluate others by what we see on their timelines

Two narratives exist: The one which defines our reality and the story we share with the world. They may intersect in the words and pictures on someone’s timeline. But they often don’t tell the full story.

Be slow to judge someone who has made the first two mistakes in this missive. We are easily drawn into the erroneous zone. Sometimes what a misguided poster needs most is empathy.

Don’t be afraid to make direct contact, outside of the social media sphere if you sense a pattern that worries you. Everyone miscalculates. Behavior patterns, not insular incidents define us.

And don’t instantly reject or respond to negative feedback. There is always a grain of truth in the midst of every storm. Integrate what helps and let the rest go.

The most effective among us understand wisdom must often be gained the hard way. You will inevitably fail along the path to self actualization. Every achievement is the result of integrated learnings from experience. Get up when you stumble. And keep going.