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On the Ills of Social Media

Do these pants make me look fat? Wait! That wasn’t what I intended to ask. Sorry, the question I intended to ask is, “Do I seem long-winded to you?”

Both questions are about appearances, but the first doesn’t really bother or concern me; and because it’s not a real concern for me, I don’t have an answer for it.

The other, on the other hand, I can and will “answer” for your benefit. By comparison to a good many people posting things on the Internet, writing articles in print and otherwise opining, not only do I seem long-winded, I am long-winded.

A good followup question would be, “Doesn’t that bother you?” Funnily, the “short and sweet” answer is, “Not at all.”

The next obvious question would seem to be, “Why not?” The answer is what I intend to detail in this article.

There are certainly myriad things “wrong with” modern day communication, to name just a few:

  1. Lack of research
  2. Lack of depth of research when research has been done
  3. The sacrifice of clarity on the altar of brevity
  4. Too great a desire to “sound” good
  5. Not enough desire to do or be good
  6. Desire to resonate with others rather than be truthful—even when it’s difficult to be truthful

You can be assured I could easily come up with more such things; and maybe if I edit this article at some point, I’ll do exactly that. At present though, I just want to quickly address each of the above, considering them to be among the more important needing discussed.

Lack of Research

Far too many folks put things out there, not having done any work to verify the rectitude of what they’re saying. They “go with their gut,” and ignore the facts. Where I could say more about this, I think my fairly simple statement speaks for itself.

Lack of Depth of Research When Research has been Done

More often than not, those claiming to have done research on a given subject or idea, have barely skimmed the surface. They think of the more immediate results or consequences of implementing various concepts or when considering diverse situations and occurrences, without taking the time to look at or consider long term or far reaching results, or in-depth issues of concern or “deeper facts.”

The result is that what they put out there sounds and looks good, but if you take the time to dig (often just even a tiny bit) deeper, you will see that the thing or things being said are not so wonderful or correct after all.

One of the worst contributors to the not-so-greatness of what folks are saying is the “law of unintended consequences.” An excellent example is that, whatever people want to believe, if you give people things “no strings” attached—things like food and shelter—contrary to popular misconception, they will likely not take them as a “hand up,” but as the proverbial “hand out” instead.

Further, many will not just not be grateful, they will expect more.

Okay, enough on this, time to move on.

The sacrifice of Clarity on the Altar of Brevity

Too much of the time, people will say things with either no consideration of how they might be taken, or knowing fully people will take them in one way and clear the way for a later misinterpretation or misrepresentation.

Sometimes though, they just don’t really consider what it is they’re saying.

Other times, people think “consider your audience,” means catering your writing to the supposed audience’s attention span or intelligence (or lack thereof).

These ideas and others, often end in the same malady, lingual imprecision. You may well think people will “understand what you’re saying,” and some even may understand what you’ve said according to your intended meaning. On the other hand, many will take from what you say things they want to hear. If you’re imprecise in your language, your lack of clarity will result in people believing you do or do not support things incorrectly.

Let’s face it, even if you are lingually precise, there will be those who will seek to corrupt, or just who genuinely misunderstand your intent and subsequent meaning.

Too Great a Desire to Sound Good

I have to admit, on this I am often “guilty as charged.” I will work to carefully craft whatever I say, with the intent of sounding good so I can engage my “audience” and not come off as boring.

That having been said, the important consideration—the thing that sets me apart from those about whom I am speaking—is that I “acquit myself” as much as possible by not doing the next thing(s).

The well crafted work of a serious, solid wordsmith is often a joy to read (even when what is written is total rot where content is concerned). That in itself does not make his or her writing or speech worthy of your attention.

Not Enough Desire to Do or Be Good

As stated in the former point, how you sound can be an important part of how you will be received by your “audience.” Though this is the case, the far more important thing is to say things of consequence and substance.

I can sound pretty good more or less just blathering. That doesn’t mean that’s how I ought to spend my time.

On the other hand, I can sound horrible whilst writing solid and significant content.

I urge those reading to be more concerned about substance than form. And to those writing, do not disappoint your readers by writing fine sounding rubbish.

Desire to Resonate with Others Rather than be Truthful—Even When It’s Difficult to be Truthful

The vast majority of folks desire to be liked and accepted. Often this leads to people saying and doing things that they know to be incorrect or untruthful in order to achieve popularity.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as choosing an improper venue for your work. Sometimes it can just be “bending the truth.”

In other cases, it can be outright lying, or saying things that indicate a lack or discretion or decorum.

Does what you say on social media—or for that matter pretty much anywhere and everywhere—meet the “test of time?”

“What,” you may be asking, “is the test of time?” Well, in current context, I would define it in a way that answers this question with a resounding, “Yes!” The question being, “If I look back on what I have said or done twenty years hence, will I be able to do so in a way that is not to my future self’s shame?”

It is a hoped for thing, that we will all continue to grow and change. Stagnancy is not a desirable trait in the mind of most folks you will ever meet. As such, the “younger us,” can hope and aim to be more like the “elder us” in our communication and conversation (an interesting word, worthy of word study if you have not done so).

I urge you—nay, I beg you—to consider the things I have said here. How will what you say, and yes that includes “sharing” the words and images of others, look to your future self? Are you seeking to be truthful above popularity? Do you seek to be solid in your substance before concerning yourself with your form?

Please, at least consider, and at best, take strongly to heart what I am saying here. As time goes on, even more than before, your statements and actions past can and will affect your opportunities and more importantly credibility at present and in future.

I know I’m a little over my self-imposed limit word-wise, but I think it important to stress those things herein said. I ask you to forgive me my wordiness.

Thanks, and, as always, have a wonderful day.

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