[T]ake note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen,

slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

Twitter, Facebook, blogging, e-mail, texting, and IMing all provide super-fast ways to communicate. I’m trying to figure them all out. Slowly.

Their advantages are many. I’ve discovered that they can allow us to follow responses to a live event in pretty much real time, keep us connected, and point us to great resources. They encourage spontaneity, while training us to be brief and relevant. I’ve seen many positive uses so far.

But I’ve also seen how they can also tempt us to be slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to become angry—the exact opposite of what we read in James.

People tap out angry or insulting tweets or Facebook updates without thinking through the tone or consequences before publishing. Rants are rampant and snarky responses abound.

The strength of these forms of communication is their immediacy. But immediacy doesn’t build in adequate time for the slow reflection that enhances meaningful communication. In fact, the immediacy of Twitter or Facebook doesn’t even build in time for basic editing; so often I’ve been aggravated with myself for misspellings or even missing words in my tweets.

So as I explore and enjoy these communication tools, I have to remind myself to go slow; to tap on the mental brakes long enough to think through my words and ideas—and consider how they might be received.

How can I slow it all down?

  1. I’ve prayed that the Lord would warn me when I need to edit myself or delete something inappropriate. More than once I’ve sensed a small warning—kind of an internal niggle or red flag—that caused me to hesitate before clicking “send,” “update” or “publish.” In those instances, I rewrote or deleted that particular post.
  2. Something as simple as setting a timer for a minimum of one-minute after composing a thought (before publishing or going live) builds in some cushion to think it through. One minute feels like an eternity in Twitter-time, but isn’t that long in actuality.
  3. Set a limit for the number of Facebook or Twitter updates per day or the number of minutes spent on those sites.
  4. Schedule certain times of day to be on certain sites instead of popping in and out throughout the day—the quick checks get me in a quick mood for quick words that may not be fully thought through.
  5. Spend time in devotions, prayer, Bible reading, Bible study, etc., before starting to Twitter, blog, etc. Spending time with the Lord resets my mind and sets a healthier tone for all interactions, online or off.

I want to listen carefully, monitor my emotions, and slow down my “speaking,” whether in person, on the phone, or typed out via these high-tech platforms. For the person steeped in social networking, the verse from James might read something like this:

Everyone should be quick to read, slow to tweet, and slow to rant and rave.

photo credit: Janusz Hylinski, via stock.xchng

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Get to know Ann Kroeker better at annkroeker.com