Twitter_Bar_1I have been on Twitter for about 6 months. I have been on Facebook for 3 years.
Overall, it has been a good experience. These are ways to keep up with old friend, make new friends, and gain more (hopefully good!) information.

During this time I have also heard a number of critiques of social media.  Some warn that things like Facebook and Twitter will make our society impersonal, shallow and hostile.  Some believe that social media can de-humanize us.

My experience and observations lead me to believe that those dangers can and do happen, but they do not have to happen. We can take precautions to avoid these pitfalls.

Two Rules to Maintain Humanity beyond 140 Characters

RULE 1When reading tweets and status updates, remember that the other person is far more than what is communicated in their 140 characters. The reality is that most of people tweet, re-tweet, and post without a lot of thought. Our true humanity goes far beyond what we post on social media.

I have a number of people whom I was friends with before we became Facebook “friends.” If you compared my tweets and status updates which those of some of my friends, you would never put us together. However, our common bonds of friendship and humanity are far deeper than our tweets. If you read a post that upsets you,  keep in mind that a tweet does not capture the full person.

RULE 2When tweeting or posting your status, remember that most people will not follow Rule 1. Most of us have a number of “friends” and “followers” who we do not see on a regular basis. While that is part of the beauty of social media, it is also one of the dangers.

Remember that many people on line only know you by what you tweet and post. That means that if you only post about how sad you are,  how evil a political party is, or what products people should buy, then you will be reduced to only those things in the minds of many readers. Take a moment and think about what your tweets and posts communicate. 

So go ahead – tweet and post away, but always keep in mind that your humanity and the humanity of those who you follow goes far beyond 140 characters.