What we say and do reveal who and what we cherish. If we solely looked at our online activity, what would our actions reveal?
Let’s pick on Facebook for a bit since this is the area I have been examining in my own life as of late. Just like a chisel can be used to create something beautiful or to destroy, Facebook can be used for good or ill. It depends on who is holding the chisel and how it is being used.
Facebook can be a wonderful tool to connect to others. We can share important information, funny stories, sources that bring us joy, our faith, and encourage. It helps inform us of the events in the lives of our family and friends so that we can respond accordingly.
On the flip side, Facebook can be damaging. Words are powerful and convey much. Some use their words online with harmful intent. Others use social media to boast. It can be a joy-zapper if one struggles with comparison on the news feed. It can sow seeds of resentment or bitterness in the heart.
We need to examine ourselves honestly and regularly as we utilize social media.
1) Building others up or ourselves? What is our motive in sharing? Who and what are we promoting? Are we using social media solely to glorify our own image to gain praise or admiration? Are our posts uplifting to others? Are we taking every opportunity to encourage? It isn’t that sharing from our personal lives is “bad,” but is there a balance to what we share and our interaction with others online that reveal an “others” mindset ?
2) Being honest? If we are willing to exhibit the wonderful things that happen in our lives, we need to also be honest that life is not always picture perfect. Being real has positive affects on those around us!
3) Sharing too much? There isn’t anything wrong with sharing that cute picture of your child, the funny story, the joy you feel in an accomplishment, the fun you had on a date, etc.. Sometimes, though, we need to filter. Would it be, at times, more tactful to share in a private circle of close friends instead of a vast online audience? When it is impossible to know exactly who is in the crowd, it is difficult to know if the information we are sharing is edifying. In real life, we pick and chose what we verbalize based on who the individual is and what we know of them. There are some successes and stories we would never share face-to-face because it might bring the other pain or cause them to stumble. That is often not the case in the social media world and, unfortunately, we rarely think of the ripple effects made.
As we navigate social media, let’s take a moment for self-examination. I am still working through the answers to the questions above for myself. There is plenty of room for growth!
Here are some new habits to put into practice.
1) Before posting, identify the motive. Why are we sharing that particular picture, moment, accomplishment, or piece of information? Is the goal to self-promote to gain affirmation or praise? Will it be edifying or encouraging to others? Is it an honest reflection of ourselves or family? Would it be better to share with closest friends instead?
2) Don’t get offline before leaving at least one kind/encouraging comment, message, or expression of care for someone else. Regularly build others up. Take every opportunity to care for, affirm, and love on others!
3) Rid our feeds of posts we are consuming that create discontent, jealousy, anger, division, or bitterness. Obviously, we can’t do that with every post that might cause a negative reaction in ourselves. There is a time to practice self-control and graciousness in our responses (or lack thereof). However, if there is a source that creates a consistent struggle in your heart and mind, then it might be time to hide the posts from that particular individual from the news feed.
We are not responsible for anyone’s actions online but our own. If there is need for a change in our actions, let’s do it! Let social media be a positive tool we use to practice the building up of and love for others.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”