For the most part, our culture loves filters. Some use filters on photographs and videos with apps like Instagram and PicLab in order to refine the light or color quality. Others use special filters to purify the flavor of coffee or beverages. Some even use specially-designed filters to purify the air quality within their homes or offices. In the business environment, many companies use software or database filters to do more effective and efficient consumer research.
A paraphrased definition of the dictionary’s take on the word suggests that a filter is any substance that removes impurities. Of course, this makes sense within the context of any of the examples listed above. But as much as culture seems to have a grip on the use of filters, there seems to be one type of filter that’s less common. In the social media world, could it be that we need more filters? Could it be that we should more carefully remove the impurities from what we share with the world?
I’ve gotten myself into trouble a few times. And likely you can relate.
More times than not, I’ve caught myself crafting a status update or tweet, only to have my conscience step in just before hitting the send button. What my first instinct tells me is funny or sarcastic or wise or newsworthy always needs a last-minute filtering process in which I ask myself, Could this potentially hurt someone? Is this really worth sharing with thousands of people? Could this photo send a wrong message to someone who might be struggling?
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s potential to overthink the filtering process. And every person has the right to the freedom of speech and expression. Everyone also has the right to be transparent and real. But in the end, some things just aren’t worth sharing. And we can all probably agree that social media filters are more worth it than not.
Before you post, consider these three reasons social media filters are a must:
1. Filters Offer You Protection
Whether you like it or not, even the people you think can’t see your profiles can find ways to see it. Filtering what you say or share can protect you from losing a job, a relationship, or from general harm. Remember things like this: (1) posting your location can allow someone (that you may not want) the ability to track you down, (2) sharing images of inside your home can reveal to potential burglars what valuables are up for the taking, (3) the “innocent” rant about your horrible work day can send negative messages to your employer, or (4) the “harmless” joke you overheard at the office might be culturally or racially hurtful. These are just a few examples. Ultimately, the power to protect yourself online is in your hands.
2. Filters Keep You Humble
Humility is a lost art. Instead of turning the other cheek (see Matthew 5:39), culture tell us to retaliate and get revenge. Sadly, social media channels are not exempt from being the platform for retaliation. Rather than using social media channels to complain or shout frustrations, a simple filtering of such responses can keep us humble and more appropriately positioned to make a positive difference in moment or situation. Before you post, choose humility. Every time.
3. Filters Uphold Your Reputation
Reputation goes a long way when it comes to landing a job, building a platform, and maintaining positive relationships. The things you post can either uplift or destroy your reputation. While no one’s goal is to have a bad reputation, sometimes the types of things people share can contribute to it without them even realizing it. The “innocent” photos from a party, celebration, or vacation can send negative messages without the slightest intention. The venting session about your child’s behavior can misconstrue your image as a parent. The reposts or shares of your favorite political or business-related interests can categorize you to others as someone you might not intend. Before you share, pause and ask, Can this derail my reputation?
When we allow it, social media is one of the greatest tools for making a difference in the world. Our words and actions can build up or tear down. But filters are a must. As you craft the messages and images you want to share with the world, consider a simple removal of impurities by implementing filters. You don’t have to hide who you really are, but instead evaluate who you really want to be in the way you interact with others. Let integrity and encouragement always win.