Motive is a pretty cool word. Its correct meaning is, “a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.” It’s easy to assume or question the motives behind what others say, think, do, or don’t do, but it’s more important—and constructive—to examine our own motives for what we say, think, do, or don’t do.
I became acquainted with Twitter in 2011 and, like many users, followed a long list of celebrities and high-profile individuals. One of several former pro athletes I followed was Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. I found his tweets to be entertaining, insightful, and frequently absurd. Of his many tweets, one caught my eye that’s stayed with me since. I don’t remember exactly what “Neon Deion” wrote in this particular tweet, but the hash tag at the end read, “#CheckYourMotives.”
Never since I discovered it on my family’s pushbutton phone when I was six years old had the “#” symbol made such an impact on me as it did in Sanders’ tweet. “#CheckYourMotives” spoke to me and has sparked further self-examination since. From my motives for how I interacted with my wife and children to my motives for going to work and for studying the scriptures—I scrutinized everything I did, said, thought, or didn’t do.
This motive checking self-inventory is a pretty sobering process if we’re completely honest with ourselves. I wasn’t pleased with the motives behind some of my actions and it became painfully evident that I needed to change my motives, behaviors, or both.
With so many social media and multimedia options available to us, it’s easy to spend hours mindlessly looking at what our friends and family members are eating, thinking, doing, and sharing on social media. It’s also natural to want to put our best face on with our own social media outlets, showing the world how wonderful and happy we are even if, truth be known, we’re struggling with life and its many challenges.
I’ll be the first to admit that social media is a great way to keep in touch with family, friends, and to share information that uplifts, informs, and entertains. I’m in no position to question peoples’ motives for how they spend their time. I would, however, like to challenge you—as I’ve challenged myself—to take a moment every now and again to check your motives before you click the “post,” “reply,” or “tweet” buttons. Is what you’re sharing self-serving or selfless? Insightful or pointless? Inflammatory or kind? Degrading or uplifting? Praising or critical?
I don’t follow Sanders on Twitter anymore. I long ago grew tired of Twitter. It’s funny because one of the things I do all day at work is get on Twitter and Facebook to monitor, run, and grow my employer’s accounts. I guess you could say that I’m a social media professional and have become proficient at the ways of social media.
I still struggle with my personal social media habits. I often fight the urge to grab my phone during dinner or, sadly, when one of our kids is telling me about their day. “#CheckYourMotives” is an ongoing and, presumably, lifelong process that will bring further insights and adjustments into my life. I continue the fight, though, striving to purify my motives and actions. It’s quite the journey. Will you join me?