The Two Faces of Facebook
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Loves: I love the possibilities it has opened for networking, reconnecting, and inspiring. Social media gives me a sense of connection to friends and allows me to follow and learn from the life and mission of some truly amazing people. Hates: I am not a fan of the “highlight reel” phenomenon it has created which tempts me to believe everyone else is living a charmed life, but me. Social media has also created an avenue for opinions and judgement that brings out the worst in us.
When I heard someone refer to Facebook and Instagram as the “highlight reel” I could not agree more. It reminds me of when my husband and I were dating. It was a long distance relationship and seeing each other on weekends made it difficult to really get to know each other. We had two days to cram in all of the affection and fun we could, so we only saw one another at our best. When we married and began to get to know the Monday-Friday person we thought we knew, it was shocking!
We have all felt the pressure to post something amazing about our kids or spouse, our accomplishments at work or adventures in travel. The filters for photos alone attest to our efforts to impress. I am not saying that I will not post proud moments as a parent and I recently took seven days to show how much I love my spouse, but the problem comes when we believe that the posts we see are a complete picture of our friends and those we follow. No doubt, we have even fought our kids as we tried to capture those pics. We may be screaming and rolling our eyes, but our friends only see the smiles.
One danger of social media is that we can freely blast someone, express our opinions, and complain about anything and everything without any accountability or ramifications. We all have a platform among our followers and friends. My heart has broken as I have watched human beings be more concerned with finding fault than showing compassion. For example, it has become so easy to judge the parenting of others even as they suffer and grieve. Suddenly we have become experts instead of communities. We have forgotten how little we actually know and how much we should actually care.
I am guilty of trying to solve the world’s problems with a condescending comment on my Facebook wall. I have ranted and raved and given my two cents worth when no one asked. Once, I tried to debate a political issue and it turned out badly. Oh, how I love to suggest, complain, and rant. God has gently reminded me of the words of a dear friend. In her wisdom she suggested “taking your complaints to God and your praise to men.” She didn’t mean that we in anyway portray to the world that everything is fine, but that instead we consider our words. Will my ranting, venting, and complaining really change anything? Will my words build up or tear down?
Perhaps the most healthy thing we can do is to examine why we post. What is our goal? Much like filtering our speech, we can be purposeful in our posting. (I have to stop right here and thank all of my friends and friends of friends who post funny animal videos that I watch for comic relief each night before I go to bed. I truly need the laughter! Don’t stop. You serve a high calling!) Going back to my grandmother’s tongue taming test- Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
As much as I want to brag on my children, I also want my friends to know that nobody has it together over at our house. I want to be real and authentic, but doing that can be challenging. As much as I don’t want to come across as Pollyanna, I sure don’t want to be the voice of Debbie Downer either. I want to inspire and bring hope, but some days I am in a pit. I want to share my excitement and joys, but not discourage those who are struggling.
My Social Media Manifesto
I have decided to be more purposeful with my posting. I want my voice to bring life.
- I will not use social media to complain or rant. If I need to vent I am choosing to do that privately to a friend who will point me to Christ or to take it straight to the Lord in prayer.
- I will not simply post a highlight reel. I will celebrate but I will also try to present a balanced picture of myself and our family.
- I will not use social media to judge the choices or opinions of others.
I really believe that we have more in common than we realize, that there is more to unite us than divide us. Social media is an amazing tool that we can use to speak life to a hurting world.
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit- you choose. Proverbs 18:21 The Message
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29