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.