CINCINNATI - Opinions flood social networks in moments of nationwide controversy. Elections, gay marriage, abortion and other hot topics are minefields that can blow friendships to smithereens.
The George Zimmerman trial is just the latest case in point. After a Florida jury acquitted him of second degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, there were more than 1 million posts about the verdict within 12 hours.
On Facebook, users questioned their friends' qualifications to comment on legal matters--not to mention their morals and ethics.
According to Forbes , there are twelve things people should think about before they post. And, before attaching your name to an online opinion, Forbes recommends this checklist:
- Who will care about the content?
- Who will be offended by the content?
- Can your opinion be communicated in a different way?
Shannan Boyer, founder of Covington's Scooter Media, agrees that social media friends should think before they post something controversial.
"Social media usage has really blurred the lines between personal and professional," Boyer said. "For many of us, our Facebook friends are not just our friends, but family members, colleagues, bosses, clients, and even our children. What were once private conversations held offline between select individuals, are now very, very public."
Boyer offers these tips to anyone who's looking to post their position on a social media platform:
- Slow down. Take five to 10 minutes to let your emotions simmer. Do you still feel it necessary to comment on the topic?
- Put yourself in the shoes of those who will see this update, post or tweet. What will their reactions be? Are you ready for the potential outcomes?
- Think about whether your opinion will offend anyone.
- What will sharing my thoughts on this topic publicly accomplish?
For more advice about navigating the social media world, check out these articles:
- "For Tweet's sake! Social media users sound off about top online pet peeves" http://bit.ly/15COGLb
- "Navigating 'netiquette:' How to be a good person in the age of digital devices and social media" http://bit.ly/18lFHUG
- "Be yourself: 5 social media rules from your mother" http://bit.ly/VjNlEp