I?ve written about this misconception before, but I think it bears repeating. The fact that it doesn?t cost money to create a Twitter or Facebook profile can lead us to believe that social media are free. This couldn?t be further from the truth. Just because you don?t have to pay to signup doesn?t mean social media aren?t costly.

If you follow sports or entertainment, you?ve seen public figures post something and then take heat for it. Bonehead tweets result in lost fans, lost endorsements, and suspensions. For normal people like you and me, reckless use of social media gets people fired, dumped, and alienated from friends.?

What?s all this really about? Simple: words. Our words matter. Communication matters ??but you knew that already, right??

One of my favorite sportswriters gets back from a three-week ESPN suspension tomorrow. What did he do? Did he commit a heinous crime? Get popped for a DUI? No, he was unwise with his words. He mouthed off on his podcast and his bosses made him pay the price for it. (Note: He has been suspended in the past for critical tweets. Some people never learn!)

Social media are free to use, but to use them well will cost you time, money, energy, and attention. To reach the right people with the wrong message ? and to avoid blindsiding the wrong people with the wrong message ??requires effort and intention. There?s a cost to it. Are you willing to pay?

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