With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about feeling inadequate.

Something in that post tweaked the interest of a well known blogger/twitterer and he decided to tweet a link to it.

My visitor numbers immediately sky-rocketed. By the end of the day I had totalled five times my average number of daily visitors. I think the server was glad to have a rest the next day!

As I watched the visitors come streaming in, it occurred to me what great power and influence this gentleman had and what a great responsibility it was to wield such power.

If I start talking at home about some new idea I’ve come across, the only people who will hear me are my wife and kids – and, to be honest, most of the time they zone me out. My voice is not heard widely so I have very limited influence.

Online, my blog posts are read by somewhere around a hundred people a day. That may not be many in the grand scheme of things but it’s a huge number compared to the four people in my family. I have a lot more influence, or at least a lot more reach, online.

Now, you and I are intelligent people. We hear and read things every day and we process them against our previous knowledge and our beliefs. We reject those things that are contrary to our beliefs and at times investigate further the things that are contrary to what we have previously learned… but not everyone is as bright and clear-thinking us!

Many people are heavily influenced by how much they trust the person who is sharing new information with them. If they trust that person and that person has demonstrated an ability to be right and share things that are wise and true, they will very often take on faith almost anything that person says or teaches.

The problem with that is nobody is right all the time, yet many (if not most) of us will almost blindly follow and accept anything that someone we trust shares.

My influence is fairly small but some of the people I follow on twitter yeild a great deal of influence. For example:

  1. Michael Hyatt. Michael is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. I and 40,000 other people read his tweets on a regular basis and many of us follow links to websites that he recommends.
  2. Alyssa Milano. Ms. Milano is an actress and a very active tweeter. She has over 177,000 people following her tweets and she sends out dozens of links every day – which she knows many of her followers will click on.

That’s a lot of  people, a lot of power. Thankfully, it seems both of them realize that with such great power comes great responsibility.

Whether your influence spreads to ten people or tens of thousands, you have a responsibility to be very careful what you share with and suggest to them.

Social Media gives you power you probably wouldn’t otherwise have – use it wisely.

My quick tips for sharing links or ideas online are:

  1. Don’t share anything that you are not absolutely certain you agree with, unless you make it quite clear what your position is.
  2. Remember that, generally, you have a greater influence online than you do in the real world. What you write is read by many and floats around the internet forever. Think before you write/share.
  3. If you are retweeting a link on twitter, follow the link first and check that you actually agree with what it says. Don’t blindly retweet!