Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why You Should Care What People Think

In the era of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and personal websites, we all have the ability to exercise social influence. Even through more traditional forms of publishing (books, articles, papers, etc.), the words we put out there for the world to read can carry great weight and significant consequences -- for better or for worse -- no matter how big or small your world may be.

For me, blogging has been a valuable experience, because even though my audience is small, it has taught me to carefully choose each sentence I compose. I will sometimes spend 10 minutes finding just the right word or phrase to express what I'm thinking, and another 10 re-reading it just to make sure. I care how my messages are heard because they reflect on me both personally and professionally. I believe I have a responsibility to use my social media outlets in a manner which 1) has a positive influence on others, and 2) is consistent with my values.

There are people whose blogs I subscribe to, tweets I follow, and articles and books I read who have had a substantial impact on me. Some of these people I've met once, some never at all. Many of them don't even know I exist. But they influence the way I think. They have helped me become a stronger professional. They have inspired me to want to be a better person. They have forced me to re-examine some of my own beliefs and assumptions, and I am better for it.

If you are using social media -- any form of it -- you are having an influence on others whether you intend to or not. And whether you have two friends/followers/connections or two million, you should care what others think. That doesn't mean you should care what everyone thinks, but as soon as you share, tweet, publish, or post, you become a virtual role model. With each thought or opinion you put out there, you are crafting your legacy, constructing the impact you make in the world.

Care about that.

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