“Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Denial is a forerunner to downfall.” (Carey Neiuwhof)
It’s not a new thought. It seems more and more people are discussing this. Yet I see more and more people sharing and claiming things that have little foundation. We can find anything on the internet, including our social media feeds, and that “share” button is easy to use. But we end up sharing what we haven’t really considered. If it sounds good to us, we engage the share button more readily than we engage our minds.
Let’s try the following:
- Read the entire article before sharing it. Just because you relate to the headline doesn’t mean the content is consistent with the headline, doesn’t mean the content is true, doesn’t mean the source is trustworthy.
- After reading an article, if you decide to share it, include your own thoughts. Invite conversation. Include what you agree with and what you don’t in order to let people know you have consumed the article in it’s entirety and thought through the truth of the content.
- Check the source. It is extremely easy to create a site and publish articles from it. When it’s boosted on social media, it gains speed in familiarity, and people often respond to familiarity by assuming most people agree with it. Check the source by visiting the site and seeing what other articles and content, including ads, are embraced. Click on the “contact us” or “about us” tab to find out how the site began and who runs or supports it.
- If you share something because you think it’s funny, add a short comment that lets people know you’re sharing for a laugh. If you share something because you believe it’s serious, add a short comment that calls attention to how serious you think it is. There are some posts that are obvious, but it doesn’t hurt to add an emoticon or a few short words to keep it in the context of your reaction. (Others still might not agree, but your intentions will less likely be misunderstood.)
- Engage with people who respond. Refuse to simply affirm affirmations and discredit disagreements. Invite conversations even when they’re tough. Until we’re ready to have conversations that are uncomfortable—and practice respect, compassion, and differences—we continue to encourage divisiveness. Until we’re ready to be genuine friends—in person and online—with people who are different than us, we choose the comfort of sameness and exacerbate categories and stereotypes.
I know some people might respond with an excuse that “social media should just be fun; it’s for entertainment, and I don’t want to have to work at it.” But people are more important than your comfort. We need to be willing to sacrifice some time to reach out to others and show respect and compassion, because sadly, it’s not as common as it should be. Social media can have some negative influences, but if we don’t do our best to engage well and encourage others, we are missing the opportunity social media provides us.
Let’s do better.