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Social Media, Soundbites-- INform or MISform?

Ran across this blog this morning.  Well worth reading the WHOLE thing...  I am reprinting the entire thing lest you choose to only read my soundbite. by Marilyn (who I admit right upfront I do not know at all --yet this is blog entry is well stated)

here's the rest of the blog entry...

I recently commented on an article that a friend had posted on a social media
site. She responded graciously but pointedly “Marilyn, did you read the article?” Although she could not see me, I had the humility to blush from my toes to my eyebrows. I hadn’t read it. I had skimmed and picked out the one sentence that I disagreed with, the one thing I could become righteous about.

It was embarrassing and it should have been. I hung myself on a soundbite.

The reasons why are many. We’re busy, we’re preoccupied, we multi-task….we also want to sound informed and smart. We want to get on the proverbial band wagon, showing that we are righteously indignant by responding with piercing words through comments.

And that’s fine – except when we haven’t read the full article, we don’t know the full story. Or if we’ve just believed someone who is well-known with a powerful voice on the internet instead of critically thinking through the issue and seeking information that will inform. And then the righteous response we are so proud of is nothing but clamor in an already too loud world.

This blogger concludes with this worthwhile soundbite that drives me to apply this to life.
How do you frame your comments on issues? Do you read the entire story or do you respond to the soundbite? These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’m serious. How do we in a world so divided learn to respond without getting caught up in misplaced indignation and quick, poorly formed log-in-the-eye responses?

My response: Find the full article or interview and READ it all.  Find the source.  Know who and why this perspective is being presented. And above all be wise and discerning and KIND.

We are a society of soundbites. Having little time for the real story we are delighted when we come upon that pithy quote or 140 character twitter feed that keeps us informed. 

Or does it?


  1. I love and am honored for this reposting. I think what is particularly troublesome is when the soundbite becomes fodder for particularly ugly comments that do nothing to build bridges, foster understanding or encourage debate. Thanks again for the vote of confidence on the post.

  2. Good reminder Marilyn and Corinne.

    This kind of reaction always reminds me a bit of driving in traffic: there's a certain safety in anonymity that allows people to be nasty (rude gestures, honking). After all, you'll never see that person again. I find, living in a small town, people are much more gentle and forgiving with traffic mistakes-- you never know if that person will be standing behind you in the grocery line or beside you in the church pew. It is much the same for posting on the internet. Let 'er rip, after all you're just another reader in the blogosphere. Instead, we should pretend we're all small-town neighbors and hold ourselves accountable.

    As a writer, I'm well aware the "pen" can be wielded like a sword (even had a recent blog posting about it). There is power in the ability to articulate that needs to be accompanied by prayer, love, sensitivity and responsibility, even if you read the entire article and have a well-founded disputing viewpoint.

    Thanks, both of you, for getting me to rethink this subject.


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