Before You Send That Tweet…

Dear Twitter User:

Before you hit “send,” please consider:

  1.  What’s urging you to send this tweet? (a) anger/rage; (b) contribution to the national dialogue on a topic; (c) fun; (d) gaining notoriety.
  2.  What requires that you send it now?  (a) I’m shocked and I want people to I know it; (b) if I don’t send it now, my tweet will be buried in hundreds of thousands of others; (c) I’ll forget about it in like 30 seconds; (d) I won’t reach my target goal of followers.
  3.  Is this tweet likely to embarrass/offend/harass anyone?  If yes: (a) I don’t care, because of my Constitutional right to free speech.   (b) I don’t know; I really haven’t thought about it and anyway, everybody seems offended about everything these days; (c) the only person my tweet is aimed at deserves the slam and I’m not thinking about anybody else right now.
  4.  Is there any possibility that your comment may be wrong factually, or run contrary to a sense of ethics or morality?  If yes:  (a) I’m tweeting alternative facts; (b) whose ethics and morality? (c) I don’t understand the question.
  5.  If public pressure or your own change of heart/mind prompted you to retract your comment and issue an apology, would you:  (a) send another tweet apologizing to everyone you may have offended; (b) apologize, but cite other sources as prompting your hysteria; (c) construct your apology so that you’re really not apologizing for anything, since that’s honestly how you feel but you know you need to “look good.”
  6. In the event you need to issue an apology, here’s a handy outline:
  • Regret: I am (sorry/sad/disappointed in myself/regretful) that…
  • Responsibility: I (did/said/offended/hurt) you. Hint: Be as specific as possible in naming/describing the offensive behavior.
  • Recognize the harm: I realize that my (words/actions/neglect/failure/omission) had the impact of (hurting/offending/embarrassing/violating/humiliating/damaging) (you/your family/our family/our community etc.). Hint: If you don’t know the impact on your victim, try to imagine; or ask them.
  • Restitution/repair: I intend to make up for this by (paying money/changing behavior/ fixing what I damaged / turning myself into the police)
  • Change future behavior: I will make sure I never do this again by (joining AA/ seeking counseling/engaging an accountability partner/ swearing off Twitter, FB, other social media)
  • Request forgiveness, if appropriate.
  • Check: If your apology contains any of the following words, re-work it so it’s declarative instead of conditional: if/but/maybe/perhaps/might/any.
  • Check: Is anything stated in passive voice? Re-word it so the subject is doing the verb. (Example: Instead of, “mistakes were made,” say, “We made mistakes.”)
  • Check: If your apology includes an explanation for why you did what you did, drop it. Save that until your victim asks you what on earth you were thinking.