It's easy to be a shock jock today. Twitter, Facebook, Google +1. What is it about social media that allows us to drop our inhibitions and say anything that comes to mind? Could there be something beneficial about having no filters?

What can we learn from Anthony Weiner's experience with social media?

The world of social media is playful, engaged, spontaneous, and immediate. It's amazing how quickly I can be with my sister, brother, friend, or colleague as if they were in the same room. I can see what they had for dinner, watch them running on the beach, and link to their favorite video in seconds. It is for the most part an uncensored world. We are out there in all our glory (or not) for the world to see. No filters.

What's right about this?
• Freedom to be ourselves.
• Opportunity to connect that is limitless.
• Immediate global awareness.
• Possibility to effect personal and planetary change.

Lack of Filters
These are technological tools that at their best can make us smile, laugh, and feel at a deep level. And yet, this medium also allows and encourages us to:
• Go further than we might in polite conversation. No one can see us …. can they?
• Say anything, regardless of who might be affected, hurt, or harmed by it.
• Lose perspective.
• Misplace human decency, scruples, and common sense.
• Forget that the whole world can see us.
• Take the stage in the hope that the whole world will see us.

We might take a lesson from the field of Action Science and a device developed in 1974 by Chris Argyris and Donald A. Schon called the Left Hand Column (LHC). The LHC is a fascinating method to differentiate what we say in a conversation from what we are thinking and feeling. What we say is written in the right column on a piece of paper. What we are thinking goes in the left. For example, I might say that I think your writing is fluid and effortless. What I'm thinking is that it's wordy and overwritten. The LHC exercise asks us to define our purpose so that we engage in the conversation in a way that serves that purpose.

It occurs to me that often in social media, there is only the Left Hand Column. Every thought goes streaming live into our Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, emails, and videos. Bypassing filters and thoughts about purpose, we press SEND / SUBMIT / TWEET. And anyone watching gets to see our LHC. Congressman Weiner's got him into a world of trouble.

As a cautious person, I'm fascinated by this lack of filtering, and I think social media offers us a true opportunity to see the often repressed parts of ourselves in action. But do we want the entire planet to see them? I'm not sure. If I ruled the world, I'd probably request that we type it all up on our tablets and smart phones in some place like a safe house, where we were required to hold it for 24-48 hours until we could view it again before SEND-ing. How many of the tweets, posts, and feeds would still go out, do you think?

There's so much good we can do with our amazing new social connectedness. Many understand this and are fostering good will and good works. As for other motives, may Congressman Weiner, social media, and his lack of filters prove an easy lesson for us. What is your purpose? Think first. Then send (maybe).

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit