Offended, Outraged, and Ignored…

It’s time to take responsibility for the content you are spewing on social media.

I know, I know… you don’t really spew anything. You’re just sharing what you found interesting… passing along that hair raising headline or the outrageous video clip… making sure your “friends” all know what’s going on in the world because without your sharing…

  • The liberals (whoever they are) would have successfully conspired to turn our nation into the worst socialist anarchy the world has ever seen… (or)
  • Trump would have single-handedly turned our nation into the worst dictatorship the world has ever seen…
  • And probably nuked us all into oblivion…
  • Those red hat wearing kids would’ve ruined everything your generation worked so hard to give them…
  • The rich would have everything hoarded away…
  • The Muslims (or the Chinese, or maybe it’s North Koreans this week) would have infiltrated every level of government and taken over the world…
  • The Christians would have repressed and regressed our society back into the dark ages… but none of it would really matter because,
  • Everyone would be abducted from the Wal Mart parking lot by now anyway.

We would all stand and thank you for averting disaster, but we’re too busy scrolling through the deluge of people’s first pet’s names and grandmother’s maiden names and favorite vacation spots and… wait, weren’t those the security verification questions for your online stock portfolio? Uh-oh. Perhaps we’ve said too much.

Turning the corner, may I offer some suggestions?

  1. Slow down. Before you post your latest and greatest thoughts (or repost someone else’s), do a quick check to see if you’re saying what you want to say. Check the grammar and spelling, too – maybe no one else cares anymore, but Mrs. Washenfelder and I do, and I’m your friend, and if you really cared about my feelings at all, you’d outsmart your autocorrect.
  2. Make sure it’s true. Don’t share someone else’s post without actually checking to see if it’s accurate. Headlines don’t count. They grab attention and pique curiosity, but they don’t give the details. Read the article – where the information lives. Does it say what you want to say? We all want to give our friends the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re correct, but maybe (just maybe) they haven’t taken the time to verify either. Please do.
  3. Make sure it’s current. I’ve lost count of the missing children posts in my feed that get recycled without anyone noticing that the post is OLD. The kid was found 5 years ago. I’m not making light what can be incredibly important posts or saying they shouldn’t be shared – but it will only help if you do a little research to make sure the moment of panic hasn’t already passed.
  4. Don’t just blame the media. If you feel obligated to share something because “the mainstream media won’t tell you this” and link me to a Fox News article, you just proved yourself wrong. The sensational claim that I have to “watch this now before Facebook bans it again” is usually a lie wrapped in an urgency meant to overcome my skeptical walls. Using a false sense of urgency is a quick way to become an ignorable yammer droning on and on in the clatter of 24 hours “news.” Just ask Chicken Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
  5. Remember what matters. Take some time to decide what’s really important to you. Write out a list of what you’re passionate about, then shape your posting around those things. There’s room for the occasion foodie update and the “oops, I wore mismatched socks” selfie once in a while. (And if you’re passionate about it like my friend Kayla at Breakfast at Findleys… post away with all the food you want!) But if you clutter up your stream with every post about what we’re supposed to be outraged by today, pretty soon we’ll all stop listening. We just don’t have the energy to be offended all the time.

You have a lot to offer. Your thoughts are important and they should be shared. Some of them should be shared widely, and social media is a great way to do that. Make sure you don’t bury what is important to you in a flood of other people’s outrage. We don’t need the outrage. We need you.

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