We all have moments when someone says something and by the time we think of a witty reply it is too late. What about those moments when we do reply, and then realize that no reply would have been better? Oooh, ouch!
Our tongue is like a two-edged sword. It can build someone up or it can bring someone down. Unfortunately, like anything negative, it is easier to bring someone down with one harsh word than it is to build someone up with ten positive words. It is human nature to lash out and strike back when someone hurts us with words. Anyone can fight that battle. It is easy to impulsively speak back to someone using reckless words to degrade or slander them. With so many social media networks, cyber bullying is viral, while people on the opposite side of a keyboard are “so much better on-line”. People tend to say things more openly than they would if they were in person. Sometimes that can be a good thing but most times it turns out bad.
If people are not well grounded in personal relationships (with spouse, parents, friends, etc.) the Internet may become their main form of communication. They are quick to grasp that instant gratification from social network acquaintances. The true value of personal relationship is suddenly lost in cyberspace. It is easier to say things on-line that would not be said in person. People can be honest without fear of immediate confrontation. When virtual relationship become more important than real relationships, it is time to back away from the keyboard and re-evaluate priorities.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when communicating on-line:
Don’t write what you won’t say face-to-face.
Remember once it’s out there, it’s out there forever, whether you delete it or not. Someone saw it, someone saved it, someone remembered it, someone will share it, and you will pay the consequences for it.
Understand the impact on others of what you write. Put their feelings above the temptation to write something negative.
Remember what Thumper’s mom told him. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
The true art of being good at communicating on-line is not only saying the right thing at the right time, but not saying the wrong thing at the moment of temptation. It might sound easy, but if it were, everyone would be doing it.