When presented with this week’s theme of RESPONSIBILITY, the first thing that popped into mind is the way in which social media technologies and platforms are being used to do social good. It’s been heartening to see, as I commented in last week’s post, technology is being used in increasingly responsible ways. From organizations like Netsquared and the aptly named Social Media for Social Change, both of which help organizations better utilize social media, to the more recent spate of digital philanthropy we’ve seen to address the disaster in Haiti, individuals and organizations are taking advantage of technology and taking responsibility for the world around them.
Then I thought about it a bit more and my father’s voice popped into my head. My father was a very wise man. There are myriad nuggets of wisdom he proffered as I was growing up that at the time either didn’t register or just didn’t make sense. Of course as these things go, and as I have whooshed my way well into adulthood, I have found the soundtrack of my life punctuated by a steady drumbeat of pithy commentary from dear old dad. It is one such pearl that landed upon considering this week’s theme – just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
While I don’t discount the importance using technology in socially responsible ways, all-too-often I think people forget that it needs to start first with using these technologies responsibly as individuals.
Trigger-happy keyboard fingers hit “send” every day, firing Tweets, blog comments and any number of Facebook status updates into the ether that would be better kept to oneself. I’m not talking purely about the seemingly inane and not always relevant content on these platforms that often raise the eyebrows of people who are less digitally inclined. (I’m often asked why people care about what people had for breakfast. My response is that you may not care, but perhaps someone does. That’s the beauty of social media, it may only have an audience of one, but that’s fine.)
I’m talking about people just plain old behaving badly – the kind of badly that, were it to transpire in the carbon-based world, they’d be excoriated for it. I’ll be even more direct. I’m talking about people who would be sent to their rooms in a nanosecond by even the most laid back of parents.
The digital realm may seem fleeting, and any given Tweet or status update may rush by in the stream of real-time content, but the shadow cast by those on-line actions can impact your own reputation for a long time to come.
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