Those who have attended an workshop have likely seen this article on self-awareness by Thai Nguyen. Thai’s 12 self-awareness exercises that fuel success are a great way to gut check your personal and professional behaviours. If you read the article, you’ll notice that the very first callout Thai makes is about the “three whys.” Specifically, “if you can find three good reasons to pursue something, you’ll have clarity and be more confident in your actions.”

This brings me to Social Media. The platforms where everyone has a voice. The great equalizers where far too often, people post content without thinking about those three whys. 

Example #1

I’ll point to a post I made on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. 

“Leora Carsley and I have been dreading this day since we lost our baby girl in October. Today, May 4, 2021, was supposed to be our due date but a cruel twist of fate prevented that from happening.

We’re so fortunate to have friends like Ashley Dawn Fraser and Mike Bradley who were thoughtful enough to send us these beautiful flowers to brighten up our day. Thank you both! We really appreciate you.”

the three whys

Reflecting back on this post, I didn’t ask myself why three times before publishing this content to my Facebook feed. I felt sad that day, but I may have unintentionally alienated all of our other supportive family and friends. If I had asked why three times, there’s a good chance I may have reworded the second part of my post to:

“We’re so fortunate to have supportive friends and family who have taken the time to reach out and see how we’re doing. We really appreciate you. And a special thanks to Ashley Fraser and Mike Bradley who sent us these beautiful flowers to brighten up our day.”

Example #2

Think of a time you posted vacation photos while on social media. Before you pressed the ‘POST’ button, did you ask yourself ‘Why am I posting this?’ Back in January, 2019, I posted a bunch of photos of my wife and my trip to Hawaii. 

three whys

There were only two reasons why I chose to post those photos and one of them is a selfish reason.

Why #1: I want to have an easy way to access some of our best memories together. 

Why #2: I want everyone to see what a great life we have.

Why #3: N/A

Reflecting back, this post wasn’t necessary. I didn’t feel any differently when our Facebook friends liked these photos and nobody wins when you unintentionally cause jealousy. 

Example #3

Last year, shortly before our miscarriage, my wife and I were contemplating whether or not we should announce our pregnancy on social media. We were really excited to finally be able to celebrate, but also wanted to be mindful of our friends, who like us, suffer from infertility. We came to a decision to post by using the three whys framework.

Why #1: We want everyone to see that our path to pregnancy was really hard, so our post would include every needle and every drug my wife had to take in order to reach this milestone.

Why #2: While we still want to post pictures of the rest of our pregnancy, those pictures would live in a separate account, rather than either of our primary ones. We don’t want to trigger anyone.

Why #3: We don’t want to minimize our happiness.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to do this last year, but this is how we intend on sharing in the event that we’re at that stage in the future.

Going Forward

Think about incorporating the ‘Ask Why Three Times’ framework before every new social media post. Think of what you hope to accomplish, along with the potential repercussions. Think of the people who might see this post. How might they feel? How might they react? And if you aren’t sure, either rephrase what you wrote or don’t post it.

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