Like most social network users, I have occasionally given in to the temptation to post something that I later ended up regretting. The rush of being the first, of saying something funny or edgy, got the better of me. Within minutes I went back and deleted the tweet or Facebook update hoping and praying no one had seen it.

Over time, I’ve gotten better about trying to think through whether I really need to tweet something and if I’ll later regret it. If it passes the “regret later” test, then I’m free to tweet.

I’m so going to tweet that…

But I’ve noticed an interesting side-effect of this “think before you tweet” rule. As I go about the day, I find myself thinking of things about which I could tweet. When I see a strange person in line at a store, I think about something clever I could say. When a company offers me poor service, I think about how I could slam them and get something back from it. When I read about major world events, I think up little jokes to make light of them.

In other words, I’ve started to see the world through Twitter.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

When I was a youth pastor, I was always on the lookout for good illustrations. If something funny, sad, or interesting happened I made a note to use it in my next sermon for the kids.

Eventually, I noticed that “Illustrations” had become the lens through which I looked at everything and I decided I needed to turn it off sometimes, so I could just enjoy the moment. Now, I find myself needing to do the same with Twitter at times.

All of this illustrates that the tools we use tend to color the world we see, and sometimes we need to take a step back from the tool to see things as they are. In the mean time, come follow me on twitter: @johndyer