It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Dickens? Well, yes. But I’m thinking . . . social media.
It’s true, right? Online community offers a world of opportunity, but it is also a breeding ground for negativity. Note that I did not say social media is evil. It’s merely a tool . . . used by sinners, some of whom aren’t redeemed. And even redeemed users can still be foolish.
Recently I participated in a panel discussing social media engagement. In preparation, I posted a question on my Facebook feed (of course!) asking for my FFs (FB friends) to give me their best ideas on how to engage smartly in social media. Wow, did they come through! I’ve organized their comments and ideas, along with some from the panel, into a few broad (but obviously incomplete) categories.
Know your purpose.Especially when responding to current events or following an issue, let’s ask ourselves: Why am I posting? Why am I responding? What is my goal here? Will my words really change anyone’s mind? Will my comment make things worse or better? Let’s remember that we never enter these conversations in a vacuum.
- Professional links: We often drag along our identities: professor at such-and-such university, director of _____, etc. Whatever we post will reflect on our employer, or whatever organization sits by our name, whether we mean it to or not.
- Personal relationships: We cannot forget that our words, tone, and attitude will also reflect on our spouse, children, parents, etc. Will they be hurt? Do our words honor them? Might we be venting publically what should be spoken privately?
- Spiritually: Remember that we are witnesses above all. We reflect our faith, and our Lord, through our words and actions. In the online world where actions have little traction, our words echo loudly. Honor God first as you engage with others.