It’s no secret that I love social media. In the grand scheme of things I probably spend too much time on it. But it fascinates me…the ways it has affected how we communicate, the way people choose or don’t choose to engage, the fear it causes for some people as they see every school shooting or neighborhood stalker in real time, or how others obsess over little likes, hearts and stars and what they say about their value as a person.
I believe social media is a powerful tool. POWERFUL. And it’s not going away. It just isn’t. It will continue to change, to grow, to connect us in countless ways, but it won’t be going away. It is also a tool. In and of itself it is capable of doing neither good or evil. What we do with it? That’s a “whole ‘nother story” as any good Southern gal will tell you.
Not so very long ago people went to websites to find out what was going on with any given business, to find out what people had to say about it, to contact them, hours of operation and more. Before that they let their fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages. Sooo Old School, right?! Now where do we go? To their Facebook page for hours and location. To Yelp for reviews. Or we tweet them for customer service. Or to Instagram to view their merchandise. We have instant access and we don’t have to even pick up a phone.
When we need to message a group of people we pull up Group Me, or Facebook Messenger, or click over to our Facebook groups. And those daring ones living life on the edge are sending crazy pictures of themselves on SnapChat to keep up with their friends or Scoping in real time.
Over the past couple of weeks as new hot topics have filled my news feeds I’ve been turning away from it more and more, though. There are numerous, massively horrible issues of social injustice. So many people standing in judgement. And still others manipulating our emotional responses to further their causes, all the while remaining, for the most part, uneducated about the facts of whatever they are decrying. And let’s just not even talk about the political scene…hmmm? It all overwhelms me and I have no answers. How do I reconcile all of this with my faith?
Once upon a time we used social media to send flair and easter eggs to our friends. We announced our menu for the evening. And we talked about ourselves in the third person. Maria Davis sure loved Facebook, y’all.
But now…well…it looks like a battlefield. Everybody’s armed with words and memes, ready to lambast anyone who disagrees with them, forgetting that humanity will view it on the other side of the screen, not some robot with no feelings.
Can we tell a better story? Can we change the narrative? Will one voice make a difference?
I’ve asked myself this countless times lately about various areas of my life. The truth is, my little bit feels so tiny. But it turns out that God is in the business of working with puny offerings. Loaves and fishes, my friend.
Knowing that, I’m not going to close the computer and walk away from it all, even though it’s tempting at times. I actually need social media to help grow my personal business. It’s a tool and I need it. So if I’m going to continue to use it, it’s time to change my focus…to accept an invitation to be beautiful…online.
Limit time spent on social media.
I don’t know about you, but too much time spent on social media leaves my heart numb or completely overwhelmed or all stirred up and fiery. It also leaves plenty of other important things undone.
Maria sees the pile of laundry but has done nothing about it, so now it’s taunting her. Also, Maria is preaching to herself on this one.
Change your focus.
If you’re looking for something to be afraid of, it will most definitely be there. If you’re looking for someone to judge, whose sin or shortcoming is now playing out online for all to see, you’ll have no trouble coming up with such news. That’s what gets shared the most on social media, right?
There is nothing new under the sun. These things have been happening for thousands of years. (Have you read the Bible and history books, friend?) The only difference is that we now have instant access to every single thing happening and a forum to share our opinion on it.
Instead, let’s look for good news. When we see a picture of the world’s injustices, let’s not sit down and say “Woe is me. There’s nothing I can do. My heart is broken and overwhelmed.” and then share that same picture so everyone will also see it and feel just as helpless as we do. Let’s go a step further and ask what can I do? what is already being done? where are the helpers? and share that instead. Rather than sharing the offender or judging the culprit along with half of Facebookland, let’s share the solution. Let’s watch for beauty in the tragedies.
Remember that Social Media is 2D.
If you go looking for a fight, you’ll find one. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that urge to engage that bubbles up when you see someone’s stance on a given issue that seems absolutely ludicrous to you and your sense of justice kicks in and you just neeeeeed to respond. My friend Cheri has some wise words about that: You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.
Use the “Hide” and “Unfollow” buttons or learn to just keep scrolling.
You will not change someone else’s opinion by having a heated argument on Facebook. If it’s really that important, take the time to pick up the phone or have a cup of coffee with them. If they’re not close enough to you that you could do that, then they’re not close enough to you to place value on heated words in the Facebook comment section. Social media is 2D and that third dimension, the one that provides context and tone and passion, is missing.
Ask yourself: Does this add beauty?
Shouldn’t that be our filter for everything? When we love without condition and give without expectation we are simply obeying God’s commandments to us. Why shouldn’t this extend to our behavior on social media as well? We’ve been extended great grace from God and I think social media is a perfect place and tool to share that grace.
Phillipians 4: 8,9 (MSG) Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
What would you add to this list? How can we be authentic and share hope on social media? What is the best thing about social media? The worst? I’d love to continue the conversation in the comments below! Or join us over at the Middle Places community to chat some more.