How I Say Thank You on Social Media Without Making It a Part-time Job


I’m big on saying thank you–a hard habit to break.

Taught as a child by my parents to thank anyone and everyone who did anything at all for me, I now think the practice was overdone. It would’ve been better to teach me to thank God for my many blessings. Instead I learned that I didn’t deserve to be treated well just for being me, a child of God. Someone had to be doing me a huge favor to act kindly toward me. I carried that mindset into adulthood (grateful for any positive attention from a verbally abusive husband) until I noticed other adults looked at me strangely when I thanked them for every insignificant little thing. But further reviewing my emotional baggage from childhood is a post for another type of blog at another time.

Today I see a lot of thanking going on in social media, particularly thanks for a follow on Twitter. Admirable, but like my childhood thank-you, perhaps overdone? I’ll admit it feels good to receive such a thank you from individuals I know and respect, but I honestly don’t expect one, I don’t become angry if I don’t receive one, and I don’t know how most people find the time.

Early on, I tried to tweet a thank you to new followers, but I was afraid of offending someone by inadvertent omission if I’d recently tweeted a thanks to someone else but not to him. So I finally gave up and tweeted a general thank you every now and then. I do try to thank individually for a re-tweet, but I’ve probably missed a few of those, too.

In most cases with social media, as with life in general, wouldn’t actions speak louder than words? Actions often prove more practical for me–and I hope more appreciated by fellow tweeters. Yeah, I know part of the appeal of the tweeted thank you is the recipient’s address going out to all my other followers and calling attention to it, but…

When people I don’t already know follow me, I check them out. I know that takes a couple of minutes of my time, but I simply can’t do the automatic follow-back. If they appear to have something interesting to say other than trying to sell me something, then I follow back. Isn’t that a form of thank you? Do I have to actually say the words?

BTW, if I follow you back on Twitter and you immediately message me with a sales pitch for your diet supplement or marketing services, you’ll likely be booted! No excuse, even if you have a manager for your Twitter account. That’s no way to thank me for following you! (Same goes for connections on LinkedIn.)

On Facebook, if another author whose name I’m familiar with likes my author page, I reciprocate–unless it’s an author of material I find objectionable, which hasn’t happened so far. That’s a nice thank you, isn’t it? (I wish more would do the same for me when I like their pages first.) Plus, I occasionally post a general “Thanks for the new likes” on my page for any unknown persons.

If, like me, you don’t spend hours per day on social media, how do you show appreciation? How necessary is it to do so? Big-name authors and celebrities don’t acknowledge my follow, and that doesn’t bother me. Do most people even care about getting a thank you? If they are truly interested in what you have to say, will they drop you because you failed to thank them individually?

On the other hand, a few adults I’ve known personally never say the words “Thank you” anywhere at any time. Some don’t know what it’s like to write and mail a formal thank-you note for a gift. That’s not good. I’ve wondered if they do better or worse showing their thanks on social media than they do in more conventional situations.

But as Jerry Seinfeld once said after receipt of free tickets to an athletic event, and I paraphrase, “How many times do I need to say “‘Thank you’?”

cynthia-toney Thanks for reading my post…Cynthia

My Interrupted Day

She had an unfair advantage because I wore an employee related name tag, but I didn’t even know her name. We’d had what amounted to a briefer than brief conversation a couple days before. But today, she obviously needed to talk because my simple “Hi, there,” resulted in a ten minute conversation about difficult personal stuff—a judge’s ruling, the realities of divorced parenting, and the pain of separation.

My mind already spun with the details of the full day ahead of me. I didn’t have time for a lengthy conversation. At first I inched away but pretty soon, I stopped moving. All she needs is someone to listen.

Relief washed through me when she mentioned crying out to God that He would provide a way through what she could only see as an impossible situation. In fact after a night of prayer and soul searching, she felt His guidance directing her toward what only yesterday she would not have considered. And she was okay with it—she could see the possibilities. God in His infinite wisdom knew what her humanness could not comprehend, and His all-encompassing grace and power had begun to mold her will to His.

I didn’t have answers for her tough situation, but I could tell she wasn’t expecting me to. All she needed was someone to listen.

freedigitalphotos by Kittisak

freedigitalphotos by Kittisak

Throughout the day, other random occasions came to mind. Times when I was in the right place at the right time to reach out to someone. Today, my racing mind put aside the details of the day and made a conscious effort to listen. But that wasn’t always the case. I wonder to which side the scale would tip to if I could look into the past and weigh when I took the time to be there for someone versus the times I insisted on being too busy to care. I’m pretty sure the results wouldn’t make me feel good.

We set aside, in an obligatory sort of way, a week to do nice things for people –Random Acts of Kindness week which fell on February 10-16 this year. I’m not sure I realized the yearly observance was happening at all. I was probably too busy, trying to burn the candle at both ends and somewhere in the middle too. But that’s not how I want to live… missing the chances to love on people.

I want to be a person who doesn’t miss opportunities to be kind, to be a listening ear, to just be there. Someone who will sense a need—you know, not have to be knocked over with a bulldozer—and take the time to do something. And not just that one week each year.



There’s nothing wrong with a national observance. It raises awareness and prompts intentional consideration. A lot of people probably extend the acts of kindness for at least a little while. Like the way the “drive-thru difference”, the act of paying for the order of the car behind you, has caught on. People have been blessed—both the givers and the receivers.

But what if we practiced a random acts of kindness life? What if, each day, we chose to go out of our way to assist or befriend or hug someone? What if we looked closely at the people who cross our path? What if we took the time every day to care?

I can only imagine how that much looking out for others would impact the world. You see, if lots of people are keeping their ears and eyes open to the needs of others, there would have to be a lot less time for “me, me, me” thinking.

I hereby pledge to be intentional about seeking and finding random opportunities to practice kindness. Will you join me?

What’s the nicest random act of kindness you’ve experienced?