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. 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.
3. No attention seeking. Over-tweeting probably annoys people and says to everyone “Hey, look at me.”
4. Don’t post 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 virtuous approach, yes?
And perhaps allow me to end with a practical matter. Posts 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. It’s difficult to be both funny and kind on social media platforms. Rise to the challenge.