Everybody Talks: The head-rattler's guide to using social media

statusEverybody talks, but so few have anything to say. There has always been this innate need in humankind for fellowship. God created us to be social creatures. A long time ago, I heard a preacher use the quote, "You were created to worship the glory of God and to fellowship with the God of glory."

The Apostle Paul said it like this:

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:9

I realize this will come as a real surprise to those who know me, but when I was a kid, I talked incessantly. It was almost stream of consciousness, like Robin Williams only more annoying and less funny. I had a joke or a commentary for every subject.

My insights might have annoyed a few adults. I know for a fact it wore on parents' last nerve.

Dad called it, "Poppin' off."

Dad was not a fan of poppin' off—especially to adults. And he had the belt to prove it.

Mom would say that I sometimes talked "just to hear my head rattle."

I liked Mom's description better, because, even then, I was a real fan of words and the pictures they draw in one's head.

With a little help from Mom and Dad, I did learn not to say everything I think. And especially not to say it as I am thinking it. Better to let a thought marinade. Even if I think I have insight on a subject ( and I usually do think that), I try to ruminate before I illuminate. When I am fired up (and because I am not dispassionate, I sometimes get that way), before I give someone a piece of my mind, I try to determine if afterward I will still have peace of mind.

I try to think before I talk. I also try to think straight and shoot straight, so long as shooting straight is not just an excuse to be rude or hurtful.

I try. I do not always succeed.

Like I said, I know I am not alone in the need to be heard. We all want to matter. We all want to believe someone cares what we think, what we have to say.

This is why Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) are zillionaires.

Social media thrives because of the human condition. Social media feeds our need to fellowship, our need to matter. Thanks to social media and the untold power of the Internet, everybody has a voice. Everybody has a platform. Everybody is a critic. Everybody is the star in his/her own movie.

Everybody talks.

If only Plato's wisdom would pop up every time Facebook or Twitter popped up on my laptop or smart phone:

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. ~Plato

Head rattlers beware. These days, popping off will get you more than a  thump on the ear from Dad, a scowl from Mom, or a lecture from your wife. Facebook and Twitter posts have ruined marriages, ended friendships, and cost livelihoods. They have even started uprisings. This is a powerful medium that extends beyond the screen on which you vent or the "share" button you push.

Whether you are the over-sharer chronicling your life on social media, the activist trying to lead the political or social charge, the class clown poking fun and cracking jokes the virtual classroom where no teacher is there to shush you, or the shadowy lurker perusing pictures and stalking others, social media is filling some sort of void in your life, some need or urge.

So, here is a short self-awareness guide for social media head rattlers. It is just a series of questions to ask yourself before you hit "post."

  1. Why am I posting this?
  2. Whom might I offend with this post? Should I post it anyway?
  3. Will it make someone laugh, cry (in a good way), or think? Will it inform, inspire, or empower?
  4. Will I feel better about myself if I resist the urge to share this?
  5. And then, finally, WWJD?

Happy head rattlin', everybody. See you on Facebook (or Twitter).

And now, an obligatory song because it sounds cool and is titled "Everybody Talks"...