Social Media and the New Responsibility

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We live in the most technologically advanced time in the history of humanity. This is true of so many areas of life. It is especially true of communication. 

It wasn’t that long ago when instantaneous communication was impossible. Before the telegraph you had to send a message via pigeon or horse or ship. Sailing covered the most ground and even that took time. Horses could travel upwards of 25-30 miles in a day. Ships could cover up to 100 miles in a day if conditions were good.Today we have the luxury of immediate communication. Both situations come with equally important but differing responsibilities. The ancient’s bore the responsibility of faithfully delivering a message in the face of storms, pirates, bandits, etc. Today our responsibility is to become better listeners, not just better talkers. Imagine when you had to wait weeks to hear back. When you finally got a reply you might pour over it even cherish it and write a very deliberate response. Immediacy diminishes our perceived need for being deliberate.

More and more I see conversations where no one is listening. Empassioned points are made and offense is taken but the reality is someone didn’t really care enough about what you actually think to ask you for yourself. Instead expedience is added to our already expedient and the shortcut of assumption and presupposition fills the gaps in understanding. It is unnecessary. We aren’t waiting on a boat or a horse or a pigeon. We can ask. We can listen. We are not left to guess. People will appreciate someone actually asking what they believe rather than making things up and stereotyping people. 

We can do better. The tools are all there. We just have to use them.

How would your social media use and what you post change if you had to wait 24 hours before the reply box was available? What if it took a week or two? There are some things I know I wouldn’t have posted. I doubt I am alone. 

Let’s learn to listen. That is going to take slowing down. It starts with me.

4 Responses

  1. Over the years as a blogger I’ve learned the wisdom in not posting (i.e, speaking) so quickly. I never post anything that I write the same day. Anything I write sits for days and weeks before publishing.

    I can’t tell you how many times, after I’ve written a post, that a few days later I come back and delete it. I’ve saved myself and social media a lot of grief doing this.

  2. Sorry Matt, but I think that you are only puting one side of the issue. The main problem is that with the advent of greatly enhanced telecommunications technology, we find ourselves increasingly event-driven, increasingly short of time and answers (which take time to think out). Instead of our correspondents being a limited number of people at varying distances whose priorities can be managed sensibly with thought, we find ourselves in the middle of a chaotic swarm of would-be contacts, many of whom clamour to be heard and replied to. I don’t need a guilt trip; I do need to live a life, and that means top priorities are off-line where God put me, doing what I really feel I should be doing, rather than being one more reactive node in some distracting networked ‘group-mind’ that often never gets round to doing anything but shuttle-talk cliches.

    Someone wrote somewhere that the most profound thought that people are ever able to come up with was possibly dreamed up by some person in the past, who promptly kicked the bucket before he could tell anyone. So now God’s the only one who knows… and, you know, I can live with that 🙂

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