Be nice. Think twice

May 10, 2021 · Print This Article

Twitter is known as the place you have it out with a person on the other side of the political aisle, or where you throw stones at that celebrity you just can’t stand, or have abuse hurled at you for posting your point of view on a given topic. Yes, we all know the Twittersphere can be a brutal place of abuse and vitriol.

And Twitter have found this wild west of words a hard place to police. But they have a solution now.

If you have composed a not so nice message, with an accompanying expletive or two for good measure, you will now be prompted to review and revise your tweet. Twitter will prompt you to think twice and be nice. Couldn’t we all do with more of that prompting.

Now, I’m all for free speech – it’s a cornerstone of western values. It is the mechanism that allows for thought. You can’t think without free speech. And debate is essential for learning. But, as we have all heard, with free speech comes responsibility. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a pop-up before we Tweet, post, email or verbally reply to that person who has pushed our buttons?

Thinking twice before we send something is good practice. But this Twitter prompt to rethink may be a worrying diagnosis of our modern society’s lack of emotional discipline. Old proverbs like “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”, or “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”, or “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity”,1 have edged their way out of the public conscience. Yet all these proverbs are just a book away.

No doubt, there’s a time and place to stand up and say it how it is. Experience and wisdom tell us when that is. But for me, being the impulsive person I am, waiting until the next day to configure a response or comment has been an invaluable safeguard against raising the temperature. Because time is the great facilitator of perspective.

Give your response time – our opinions aren’t ever that important anyway.

Richard Fowler

Richard is Editorial Assistant at Because.

1The Bible, Proverbs 15:1; 12:18; 21:23
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