Don't be an idiot: The curse of social media

Here's why you should think before send, post or tweet

A hundred years from now, social scientists will look back at us as we evolved through the so-called "Information Age.”

It may be only then that we'll have some reasonable explanation about why we feel so free to speak our minds through digital communication, things that we would never imagine telling to someone's face.

Even when we did slip and say something offensive or inappropriate, those words stayed relatively contained to your family, friends or coworkers. You then had the opportunity to patch things up because you could talk to them. Or not. But at least you had a choice.

Apparently we lost that common sense and decency when anonymous chats began in the 1980s. No face to face equaled being free to say anything, be it the truth, a lie, a smear, an ugly thing about another person who could be a complete stranger.

Many of us live our lives in the digital sphere. I certainly appreciate hearing from friends and colleagues from around the globe. I genuinely enjoy it when we argue and debate with respect and dignity.

I love it when we can support each other through our trials and tribulations, in ways we couldn't have not even 10 years ago.

But I'm irked when I have to turn people away from my stream because what I see continually offends me. Through rose-colored glasses I hope that folks wouldn't, but they do.

What's even more amazing is the "moral imperative" that allows them to feel entitled to say it out loud in a space that captures it for all eternity. Compounding this issue is that there's really no way of letting someone know about the inappropriate or offensive post, short of writing back to them and saying so. Which I've done, and ended up being unpopular.

There should be just as easy a way to show your displeasure as your agreement with a post. A dislike needs to be as public as a like, so that all involved knows where things stand.

Lesson for today: if you participate in social media, you live your life in public. And First Amendment rights to the contrary, as someone who stands in the public trust, you will be called on the carpet in ways that most people aren't.

It's not a good or bad thing, it just is. Think before you send. Think before you post.

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