So I’ve been thinking lately about the fact that technology moves faster than our thinking about technology, and that as a result, our moral reasoning about technology tends to take place on the fly. I am guilty of accepting new technologies as a natural part of my life without considering how best to use them for noble purposes and avoid misusing them for ignoble ones. I’m playing catch-up here, as i suspect many are. Better late than never. Here are a few recommendations I would give to those seeking to use social media in an ethical manner. (Disclaimer: I’ve made mistakes regarding all the recommendations I give here!).
1. No personal attacks. Public humiliation or embarrassment does damage to a person’s soul.
2. No emotional streaking. Tell your dark secrets to a trusted friend, not the Twitterverse.
3. No attention seeking. Over-tweeting probably annoys people and says to everyone “Hey, look at me.”
4. Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want your mom, your minister, or a future employer to see. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.
5. Let your speech be gentle, kind, and humble. This seems a rather Christian approach, yes?
And perhaps allow me to end with a practical matter. Tweets could fall into three categories: entertainment, information, and inspiration. Balance the three categories and you’re probably using the venue well I think. Most people respond more to entertainment than information or inspiration, so avoid the temptation merely to make people laugh. I’ve most often misused social media when I’ve gone for the funny one-liner to the neglect of other considerations. Why do most comedians use profanity? Because it’s difficult to be funny and kind. Rise to the challenge.