“Social media” should mean, “Communicating with fellow human beings.” But not all such communications are created equally: every social media message seems to hold the same significance within that little 470-by-246-pixel Facebook post or that 144-character Tweet. However, just because a post or a Tweet may hold a slick image and the shock of a headline, doesn’t mean that behind it is an appropriate standard of journalistic truth. Maybe some of us need to hold to a higher level of reason and ethical standard for our communication through social media, because when we share something, we are not just sharing a post or comment, but we are choosing our and other people’s mental and emotional companions on the sojourn of personal life. In other words, we need to chose carefully what we believe and share because our words affect the sort of person we and those around us become. The nifty look of an infographic or an emotionally wrenching image will certainly pull our own minds and our hearts in, but that “in” might not be a good place; we may hurt or badly influence the people whom we call “friends” by our careless use of the “share” button.

When we intentionally measure what we “Share” and “Like” against a standard of truth, grace, and kindness, we will no doubt be more effective at helping the people we share with to grow in kindness and good attributes whenever we engage with them on social media. If we listen and remember that those people listening or reading our words are actually people whom we might see face-to-face someday, it is easier to write with kindness as we interact with them. I am not suggesting that every post needs to be about silly kitties and frolicking puppies or that you never should disagree or interact on social media about substantial or controversial subjects, but I am suggesting that you remember that the human being who is listening or reading what you post might take action or be mentally influenced by your words or the things that you say you “Like.” Will your readers come to better life choices and become kinder and more fruitful when they react to your messages? Will they feel more confident in their ability to make a positive difference by their actions or will they just be encouraged to follow along with you as you gripe and grump negatively?

It is kind to try to help people to see that their words impact others. It is important not to give up trying to speak out when you see someone sharing inappropriately and negatively, especially if you know that person. However, it is also kind to be kind to them while doing it.

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