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You Are What You Tweet

Follow the Two-Hour Rule

I recently read a book titled You Are What You Tweet by Germany Kent that provides guidance on how to use Twitter to create a positive social media experience. I highly recommend the book to learn tips and advice on how Twitter can enhance your well-being and improve your branding on social media.

I like the expression “You Are What You Tweet” because it addresses proper behavior on social media. Let’s face it, some people use Twitter to vent, call out others they might disagree with, or post disparaging remarks about another person.

Your postings on Twitter reflect the content of your character. Social media ethics is no different than workplace ethics. Good ethics, is good ethics, and it does not matter whether you are tweeting at home or in the workplace. The core values of honesty, truthfulness, respect, and responsibility form the basis of social media ethics. Understanding your behavior on social media provides insight into your own personality as well as how others perceive you. Kent links ethical behavior on Twitter with ethical behavior in life through his statement: “The Twitter Golden Rule: Tweet others the way you want to be Tweeted.”

Kent says: “Your Twitter profile is your business card. It creates a first impression about who you are. It serves as a “mini-resume” as well as your “mini-autobiography. Social media can be great for your image if you utilize it in an effective manner. Tweets have power because words have deep meaning. Be thoughtful towards others will carry you far on Twitter.

Why do people Tweet?

The American Press Institute conducted a survey on “How people use Twitter in general.” One finding is 31 percent use Twitter “to tell others what I am doing and thinking about.” It is here that social media ethics has its greatest role: Communication with others about your feelings and beliefs go a long way to reveal the kind of person you are (i.e. caring and compassionate or selfish and abrasive). So many of us rely on Twitter as an outlet for our feelings – the good, the bad, and the ugly. We all know people who use Twitter to communicate their feelings in an overly-aggressive manner. The most well-known person to do so is our 45th President – Donald Trump.

People use Twitter to vent their feelings because it serves as an outlet to discharge negative emotions rather than keeping them bottled up. However, if you are emotionally entangled in what happened to you, your judgment may be clouded and your instinct to get back at someone for what they said can lead to more aggressive behavior. A critical tweet begets another and before you know it, you have slide down the ethical slippery slope and there is no turning back. Tweeting before thinking is a sure way to damage friendships and relationships.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

One of the most interesting pieces I’ve read on the motivation for tweeting comes from a blogger called Beirut: “Why Do People REALLY Tweet? The Psychology Behind Tweeting! He uses Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to explain Twitter behavior.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory in psychology consisting of a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people. He believed that people possess a set of motivation systems unrelated to rewards or unconscious desires. Maslow posited that everything we do is derived from and revolves around a certain need we are seeking to satisfy. One must satisfy lower level needs before moving on to meet higher level growth needs. The lowest level of needs is associated with physiological needs that sustain us and provide a foundation for other needs. The highest level is associated with self-actualization needs, particularly those related to identity and purpose.

Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization. This does not always occur because one’s progress is disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Maslow noted only one in a hundred-people become fully self-actualized because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.

On a higher level, tweeting provides an outlet to express one’s point of views and interact with others of a like mind. The give-and-take of tweeting can build self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and a step up the ladder of self-actualization – if Twitter is used for constructive purposes.

Two-Hour Rule

I have a two-hour rule that I won’t respond to a post that is critical of me as a person or in reaction to one of my blogs until two hours have gone by. This gives me an opportunity to collect my thoughts, think about what I am about to tweet, and consider whether my words reflect my character and true beliefs. Waiting two hours also gives me time to calm down and consider the consequences of my response. I have found this helps to center myself and reflect on the values and virtues that I try to live by. Revenge is not a healthy emotion. Seeking to clarify my position while being true to my core values can be cathartic. As part of my two-hour rule I compose my tweet in draft form, send it to myself, and the re-read it to make sure it says what I want to say and how I want to say it. Now, I’m ready to post the tweet.

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