4 Things To Consider in Our Social Media Satured Age
Have you ever been the victim of a thoughtless social media post? An old friend posts a really awful photo from high school, or more seriously, an acquaintance shares something untrue or awful about you. Have you ever had a friend that you have had an argument with express their distaste for you publicly? Have you had an ex put you in a bad light through the use of melodramatic songs lyrics, or worse, Bible verses on their social media account? Of course! This happens to everyone.
I recently had an experience where a staff member posted something on social media she thought was harmless, but that had rippling effects for my business and caused me personal hurt. These things happen all the time due to the prevalence and mis-use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.
As Christ-followers, we have a call to let the life of Christ lead us in every area - even how we use social media. Even though there are no direct guidelines for social media use found in the words of Jesus (no Insta-stories or funny cat memes being passed back and forth among the disciples), the principles he taught of peace, loving your enemies, and blessing those who curse you have a lot of direct correlation to the way we use the internet today.
As we navigate our way through this social media saturated age, I want to offer some ways to be good stewards of our public thoughts and posts:
Think before you post.
Sounds simple, right? And yet, we still see needless posts every day with everything from fake news articles to endless rants.
Exercising this simple rule can save not only you, but those you care about from unneeded grief and anxiety. Before you post something in frustration, ask yourself these questions:
-Am I reacting to something?
If the answer is yes, consider what you are reacting to and how best to handle your feelings. Consider waiting at least 24 hours before you post anything.
-Is there anyone that might be hurt by this post?
If the answer is yes, re-consider the need to post this information.
-Or, if its a link to something, “Is this true, credible, & verifiable?”
Re-sharing of fake news articles leads to the propagation of mis-information, pointless arguments, and oftentimes, bullying and violence.
We have all fallen victim to the dreaded overshare. It might be photos of medical ailments or gruesome accounts of the monotonous details of daily routines, but perhaps the most dangerous is telling the entire social world about your deepest interior struggles.
Sometimes sharing your struggles can represent bravery and be a story more people need to hear, but most of the time, this type of sharing is an unhealthy type of attention-seeking. Dramatic, woe-some posts command attention and gain you immediate sympathy, grief, and support, but that support is not real or of much help to you. In fact, it could be harming you.
Are you seeking out comfort on Facebook, but failing to press into the real relationships in your life? Do the comments in your feed get you just enough of a dopamine hit to get by until the next major bout of depression or really bad day? Is it hindering real life-giving relationship where those closest to you speak truth into your life?
Avoid passive aggressive behavior.
I recently asked a group of friends about one thing they would tell the world about social media if they could. While they could not all agree on common rules for social media behavior, the one overarching idea they all shared was, “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t post it on social.” This seems like one of the best overall rules for life on the internet.
Are you angry at a friend? Talk to them in person rather than posting passive aggressive comments on their photos. Are you unhappy at your job? Work to be better or find another job, rather than posting about how awful things are for you at work. Struggling as a stay-at-home mom? Don’t take it out on your other mom-friends. Avoiding passive aggressive behavior, and instead talking out differences or disagreements in person, seems like a far better way to live.
Does the world need to know this?
Finally, I like to ask myself this question when considering what to post and what not to post:
“Will this information bring more truth, more beauty, and more love to the world?”
If the answer is no, delete it.
If the answer is yes, post it.
Are you making the world a better place through your use of social media, or are you making it worse? Are you using these platforms as tools to establish real-life connection, or do your comments come from people you have no real-life relationship with? Are you grabbing for attention and popularity, or are you seeking non-virtual connection?
Let’s take these small steps in making the internet a better place.