Digital footprints last forever | Teach teens to write with grace
As wives and mothers, daughters and sisters, teachers and friends, our words have immeasurable, long-lasting impact. Yet in our fast-paced world of texts and tweets, how much time do we spend choosing these words?
I remember my old cursive workbook called Writing with Grace. My girlish idea of “grace” evoked images of poised ballet dancers, tea parties where no one slurps or spills, and well-manicured ladies who never say the wrong thing. And that’s certainly one facet of grace.
But true grace is an internal quality. If a woman’s spirit is critical, her words will be harsh and her home uninviting. If her spirit is loving, her words will be gracious and her home (clean or not!) will be a welcoming place.
For most of us, online communication is a daily habit. Together, can we take some time this week to examine our words and practice filling our writing with grace?
Emails Have Wings
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all….” ~2 Timothy 2:24 (KJV)
It’s good to remember this simple but important truth: Emails can be forwarded–-either intentionally or by accident. With the click of a mouse, your cousins in Texas can read the letter you wrote to a nephew in Idaho. Criticisms of a ministry leader or business colleague can be forwarded tomorrow, creating awkwardness, bad feelings, or embarrassment for all involved.
Harsh judgments and flippant comments have little place in conversation, but even less so in email. It’s always best to review emails for a gentle tone and clear meaning before hitting “send.” Gracious words today can save hours of grief and back-pedaling later.
Do Blogs Have Staying Power?
We don’t know the future of online businesses. Blogspot and WordPress could disappear two years from now (taking our blog posts down into oblivion with them). On the other hand, these forums may thrive another ten, fifteen, or twenty years. By then, our toddlers will be high school graduates, and our teens may be homeschooling parents themselves. Grown children will likely do a little digging, and rediscover the blog archives from 2013.
Will your kids someday realize you wrote humorous posts at a loved one’s expense? Will they see their every youthful flaw exposed, merely so Mom could gain sympathy from acquaintances and strangers? Or, will they find words that make them laugh and cry and stories that bring all the best life lessons and memories flooding back?
Wisdom and discretion are rare jewels in the public journals we know as “blogs.” As women of faith, let’s set an example and leave legacies our children can be proud of. Whether or not we refer to husbands and kids with anonymous nicknames, we can never afford to become complacent as bloggers. Our closest relationships are at stake.
Taming Social Media
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” James 3: 4 (NIV)
What’s a little Facebook status? Or 140 characters on Twitter—what harm could that do? Let’s be honest. We’ve all made mistakes on social media: An insensitive comment. An announcement too soon. News shared out-of-turn.
Words shared on social media spread faster than emails. Short bursts of text are more likely to be read than long, rambling blog posts. Yet, how quickly we lose sight of their power to build or tear down! Our words are the sparks that can light a warming fire… but they can just as easily set a forest ablaze.
Etiquette experts may never agree on the rules for “what not to post.” In most cases, our instincts and conscience are better guides, anyway. With a little time and effort, we can use social media to encourage—not to boast. We can spread words of hope and healing and grace.
The words we write can spell JOY in our lives—Jesus first, others second, yourself last.
Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella blogs at www.waterlilywriter.com.
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