Before you post it, tweet it, or press that Submit button, please ask yourself one simple question: Is it worth the interruption that it will cause others?
Supposing the roles were reversed, would you desire that article of data you are publishing to invade your consciousness? Is it helpful? Does it offer anything constructive and meaningful to others?
Yes, I realize I don’t have to follow you on Twitter.
I don’t have to read your blog.
I don’t have to click on your links.
I subscribe to your thoughts through these channels because I trust you: I trust that when you say something you are intentionally choosing honoring my attention.
When I read your content I am quite literally giving you my focus and time.
This is not meant to sound impersonal and pragmatic, but here is the essential question we must all ask when we read your online content: Is it worth my attention? There is no other criteria by which we can determine this: the next blog post you write, your next status update, the next link you recommend; will these be a profitable use of our collective concentration? Or will they be a distraction that we will attempt to eliminate from our minds as quickly we as ingested it?
Put it another way: When you press Publish, Submit, or Post you are in essence asking me to contemplate something. Is the “thing” for which you are asking me to dedicate my mind a genuinely worthwhile use of my mental energy? If somebody else posted it, would you appreciate it or possibly resent them for it? (Thou shalt tweet for others what thou would want others to tweet for thee.)
It is altogether possible that I may love you as a person, but find your online presence immensely distracting. Fortunately we can all recognize that our online representation is not who we really are: you are not your avatar. There is no more shame or guilt in unsubscribing from the data streams of people who do benefit your attention than there is turning off the television when it becomes a waste of time.
The bloggers I read and the tweeters I follow are chosen because they display an evidential commitment to this simple value; before they broadcast anything they reflect on this question: “Is it worth the interruption?”