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Facebook: Do We Check to Get Affirmation or to Enter Meaningful Conversation?

20 Aug

Okay. Before we enter into this touchy discussion, let me start by saying I am really qualified to discuss this because I am completely guilty of it. Being a writer, I find Facebook a great place to discuss important issues, test ideas, network, and hone my craft. I try to divide my peeps into different audience lists so they are not inundated with every thought in my head. And we all know those blogs from people (me at times) who post everything we eat, every activity we participate in, and everything brag-worthy in our lives.

I find it hard to draw the line sometimes. I don’t want to brag but to celebrate. I also want to be honest and open about my failures so we all can share the journey and encourage each other. I post honest and blunt posts sometimes, not so much to get a cheerleading squad going for myself but to hopefully bring some encouragement to someone out there also hurting and struggling through a similar day/issue. I realize not everyone knows us on the same level or even reads the written word with the same tone, so I have found Facebook to be a great place (not perfect place) to learn how to communicate better in the written word. It’s not a place to get lost for hours, certainly. And it can quickly become a platform for brag fests that can remind others of their own loss (as an example, Mother’s Day can be a hard one for some folks), love fests that leave others out, passive-aggressive jabs, and insecurity-based posting to catch someone’s attention. I completely understand that. But I also know that the peeps who know me best know my heart’s intentions, and when they think I’m out of line—and occasionally they do—if they take it offline and gently correct me, I can hear them. I can learn to do better.

But the bigger question right now that I ask myself, as a debut author, introvert drawn to intense introspection, and someone still very vulnerable in my craft: Do I check Facebook to see my “like” stats and receive affirmation? To measure who is neglecting me? Who is touching in? Or do I check it with a healthy amount of distance to enter a conversation as appropriate in measured amounts? Do I rely on this as my social interaction? Am I needing it as a fix? And is the motivation to post something to inform, be helpful, and encourage, or is there another agenda? While there will always be someone who may find disagreement with it, can what I’m typing in any way polarize, make someone feel less than, come across too harsh or arrogant?

These are the questions I feel we should each have by our sides when we log on. It sorts out so much of what we have to say and is a great opportunity for self-reflection.

Social media is no longer new. Our learning curve is over. We should now know how to navigate it and avoid the pitfalls. There’s no excuse for me not to be diligent and thoughtful about it. If I need to get on for any of those negative reasons or check incessantly, it’s time for a coffee date with a few friends, a ride on the bike, a walk with the dog, a phone call to a dear one, a good read.

And there are some for whom Facebook and other social media are just too sensitive right now: times of loss, frustrated goals, disappointments, relational struggles, depression. If popping onto the newsfeed brings an instant rise in blood pressure, then by all means, jump off! The challenge is not to judge others for wanting to interact now and again that way because they may be in a good season of life right now, but avoid setting yourself up for unrealistic and irrational comparisons to your own life. It’s not the time to read how awesome the rest of the world is doing (or pretending to be doing). It’s time to engage in meaningful conversation, seek the help you need if you need it, and hang with the people in your life who are your natural cheerleaders through the trials. Social media may have a good meme and thought once in a while, but if you have a hard time filtering out the negative stuff, it’s not worth it. Consider logging off for a while.

I enjoy it like so many other people, but social media is certainly not our savior, not our substitute for anything really, and definitely not a place to gauge our own lives. True that?

I look to the Bible (which I consider the inspired Word of God from start to finish) for my guide to daily discernment, and this verse cried out to me. The Apostle Paul wrote this epistle during his imprisonment in Rome. I think he had a lot of time to think and pray about worthy things on which to focus his attention. Like Paul, I only want to “approve the things that are excellent” when I spend my time on the latest cultural fad/fixation. Social media is not wrong. Like anything else, it just requires healthy boundaries, and Paul spells those out pretty well in his epistles. I think the end goal is the same, I hope, for any of us: “that your love may abound still more and more.” I want me more of that on any given day. How about you?

Philippians 1:9-11, Apostle Paul speaking

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

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4 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Renewing Our Minds

 

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4 responses to “Facebook: Do We Check to Get Affirmation or to Enter Meaningful Conversation?

  1. michelle @ this little light

    August 20, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Such great insight, Bonnie. I admit: I love Facebook for those moments you get to share something fun, or revel in your friend’s kid’s birthday, or celebrate a moment with those you love but aren’t able to see often. I also love it because it helps me spread word about my blog or business, but yes, sometimes we HAVE to tune out when it’s breeding negativity within us. I remember one time having, as my mom used to say, my “nose outta joint” (ever heard that expression?) because my friend went to lunch with a few of her close pals and didn’t invite me. I pouted for a while then realized “Geesh, she has every right … and normally, I wouldn’t know about this if I didn’t have this window into her life,” so chill! You have to appreciate it for what it’s worth, but know when to click that little “x”!

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    • bookbonnie

      August 20, 2014 at 8:29 am

      So very true. I think we’ve all had to realize that window is now wide open, and the only filter is ourselves and our personal choices. I’m so glad I wasn’t a teenager when Facebook was new. I think that was the hardest group of folks to adjust to the enormity of responsibility in a public forum of this magnitude. On the flip side, we now have fun songs like “Selfies” that have an intriguing new context from FB and Instagram. LOL

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  2. Yolanda

    August 20, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Good article. I sometimes struggle with FB myself. It’s a love/hate thing. I hate the fact that I seem to need to check it often. It annoys me and makes me laugh or smile. It encourages me at times and it also discourages me when I see things I don’t want to see.
    However, I have been able to keep in touch with and find people that I would have never had the opportunity pre-FB. Now that I am in TX, I need to feel connected to my family and friends up north and this fits the bill for now. My favorite posts are pictures of special events or just everyday life that I am missing. As far as [posting, I have questions I ask before I post. Is it uplifting? Does it edify or break down? Is it prideful? Am I portraying a “perfect life” that does not exist? Do people really care what I am thinking right now? I have abandoned so many posts after asking those questions. Even commenting on the posts of others come under the same scrutiny. Some do slip through the cracks at times, and I quickly regret them. I have considered getting off at times, but unfortunately is has become a major tool for connection right now and I am almost afraid of feeling lonely without it. Scary though, but true. Lots to think about. Thanks for putting it out there.

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    • bookbonnie

      August 20, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Such good points, Yolanda. Those are great questions for us to ask ourselves. I feel like it’s been a huge connecting tool for me as well since we’ve lived so many different places. Sometimes I’ve found it hard to keep a good balance. I really appreciate your thoughts. Gave me much to think about as well. I have regretted some things as well, and I’ve literally done FB detox days so that it’s not my only communication tool. I’m going to refer back to your questions to add to my own personal gauge.

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