Oh, social media. It seems like most of us have a love-hate relationship with these platforms. On one hand, it’s a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, post photos of your kids and pets, and share articles or ideas that are important to you. On the other hand, it can sometimes feel like a cesspool of negativity that can be hard to ignore. And if you take the bait, you can find yourself waist-deep in that negative quicksand that’s harder to escape with every comment you post. Been there. Done that.
Choose What to Post
I have a general rule with my social media posts that I’ve adopted in recent years. If what I’m about to post doesn’t make other people laugh, think, or say “Awww,” I don’t post it. I don’t get political on my social media platforms and I steer clear of controversial topics. Does this mean I don’t have an opinion on these subjects? Nope! It just means that I’ve realized that no one has ever said, “I felt very strongly about this topic until I argued with someone over social media and they changed my mind completely!” Once I realized I wouldn’t change anyone’s mind with my arguments, I had to reflect on why I was arguing. Was I trying to get others to team up with me? Was I justifying my own feelings? None of these are good enough reasons to alienate people.
Choose When to Post
As a professional writer and editor, I’m fully aware of the importance and impact of the written word. However, there are certain things that cannot be conveyed through writing alone—things like tone and expressions. These important elements are lost when you sit behind a keyboard and begin to type out a manifesto over Facebook. When you’re face-to-face with someone, you’re less likely to spew your every thought. Why? Because you can “read” the other person and know when to pull back on certain subjects. Also because your instinct kicks in and you (hopefully!) don’t want to randomly start arguments with friends and family. Before jumping into something on Facebook that could result in hours of back and forth with friends, family, or complete strangers, ask yourself if you would have this conversation if you were sitting across a table from each other. If the answer is no—don’t participate.
Christians aren’t immune to having opinions, and many opinions we have may be strong ones—I should know! There are certain values and principles that I hold dear and no one is going to sway those. The people closest to me know what these are and I don’t hide them, but I don’t feel the best way to represent my views is to shove them down people’s throats via social media. It doesn’t give me the opportunity to have a heartfelt conversation. It doesn’t allow the other person to ask thoughtful questions that I can respond to in a thoughtful way. It doesn’t reflect kindness and provide grace in the way that real-life conversations do. I’m confident in my beliefs and confident enough to share them—but in the correct time and place. And many (probably most) times, that time and place isn’t when I’m hiding behind a keyboard at my desk.