“I didn’t mean it that way.”

It’s the cornerstone of all arguments, disagreements and misunderstandings. You meant well, but it came out all wrong. You try and clarify but you don’t get second chances at first impressions.

Social media has given a powerful tool to those seeking to amplify their voices – taking it further than ever could be imagined. With that power also comes great social responsibility.

Most on Twitter are no stranger to subtweets – tweets aimed at a particular user under the knowledge they’ll see it, but without tagging them. Blogs like this can be used to reach certain individuals too. The danger in using social platforms this way is when you have to clarify “I didn’t mean it that way.” Or when other users misunderstand a message not intended for them.

The majority of our communication is non-verbal. No matter how many emojis you use, or joking references, or nick-names, you cannot assure the message will be received correctly. The only real way to avoid misunderstandings is to not engage in such tactics. Some things are best left to be discussed in person. If that’s not possible, it makes no sense to try and dominate a one-sided conversation.

I am by no means the only one guilty of sending subtweets and occasionally using this blog to try and reach a certain recipient. I see it all the time in my own timeline. Even journalists are occasionally guilty of the practice using much larger publications. Most times it never works out in their favor. There’s almost always a blow back. I can even recall several instances of people I know unfollowing each other over a misinterpretation of tone on Twitter. Really, it’s quite awful.

So perhaps 140 characters – or a thread of 140 characters – isn’t the best way to get certain messages across or to express yourself in detail. Nor is a blog post or article equally lacking in context and intention. It’s just not worth the hassle of being misinterpreted.

Finally, I’ve met a lot of great people through social media I wouldn’t have otherwise. We got to know each other beyond 140 characters and the realm of a blog. So the collective impression is overall very different from a text based relationship. So use social media with the understanding of its limitations. It’s a great starting point, but that’s really all it is.

Sorry for any misunderstanding, “I didn’t mean it like that.” 😉


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