I’ll admit it. I might be treading on thin ice with this week’s post. Some may even say “stick with what you know” and to that I’d probably agree (for the most part). But I’m certain that when God lays something on my heart to write about, I’ve already been struggling with it and coming to terms with it for my own life. I can assure you: anything you read on this page will be real for me because I write out of and from life experience.
Enter social media. What a wonderful platform and a beautiful way to connect with others “virtually” around the globe. It has transformed the way we do life as we know it. At the same time, we can see the ills of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al pretty much at face value. An increasing level of shallowness accompanied with disingenuous attitudes are typical finds most days. Not to mention, the term “fake news” has gained a new awareness as we realize not all that we read may be true.
What has become real for me is that my social media habits can be a trap I get sucked into. Not inherently good or bad, the medium itself does not cause my stumbling. But it is the time and energy I allow it to take from me that can lead me down the wrong road. And it’s a road that I can’t see much redemptive value on. Facebook has brought me into a new level of comparison and trying to keep up with the Joneses. It has also drawn me into debates and arguments with complete strangers…all in the effort to not only be heard, but to be right. Finally, in the name of open discussion I’ve liked and shared things in the hopes that my own stock will be elevated; that somehow I will be the “it person” of the moment.
As I’ve mentioned earlier this year on my Facebook page (ironically), I took a break from FB and by and large most social media over the last couple weeks of 2016. I found it to be refreshing and actually would encourage anyone to try it even if just for a day. But unplugging and then plugging back in has taught me some things. And I’ve plugged back in with more purpose and direction believing God can use this platform for His glory and fame while I just be a guy who displays Him with my posts. Here are 3 rules I believe we can apply as Christians:
1. Be intentional.
Ok we all love the cat videos to a certain degree. And a funny meme can lighten the mood. But if you profess Christ, can anyone tell by your posts? Most of us have a Rolodex for a friends list. Many of those people we have never met, but through FB magic we are now “friends”. And friend is a term we use loosely in social media. If a person whom you’ve never met only got to see one post from you, what would you say? What would you share in that moment knowing this is your only chance to speak life and truth? Forgive the heaviness, but the Bible says “the tongue has the power of life and death”. The keyboard is a mere extension of the tongue. Use it purposefully.
2. Ask “is it necessary?”
I’ve had multiple posts where I’ve started to type something and thought “This is stupid, why am I typing this? Delete.” Regrettably, I’ve had just as many posts where I’ve gone through and hit enter. And the fallout from a bad post or poorly chosen share is never worth it. Rumors get started on social media. Lives can get messy when we put something out there for the world. And friendships can become anything but. By doing a heart check (yes I went there), you can potentially avoid lots of emotional and mental distress. Will it feel good to hit the enter key? Yes often it does. But that doesn’t make it right. I’ll be total cliche for a moment and say what your mom would say: would you post it if Christ was sitting in the room next to you? Yup went there too.
3. Count the cost (and the time)
Ok so this last one is pretty much self-explanatory but for me (like most guys), I need someone to say it. And I know I’m on my mobile device too much when I look around the supper table and my kids are all on theirs. They only imitate and mirror what they see. In that moment, my heart is convicted by what I am displaying to them. So…how many hours do you spend online and is there a healthy balance between the screen time you have and the “face time” you have with those around you? I’m totally looking in the mirror here and constantly telling myself, “Whatever it is, it can wait. These little lives around me are much more important.” And if my Bible study and prayer life suffers but my Facebook game is on fire, there’s something not right. We all must count the cost.
Well, there you have it. I hope this helps and at least gives some direction if you’ve been having some of these same thoughts. I sense I am not alone as I look around and encounter other Christian brothers and sisters grappling with how to use social media appropriately. Love you guys; please know you’re in my prayers. You can “like”, “share”, or “repost”. Or don’t haha!
“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:21
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about [and post about] such things.” Philippians 4:8 (extra emphasis mine)
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org