It is difficult to find a corner of the universe today that is not being impacted in some way by the phenomenon of social media. With over 800 million active Facebook users and over 100 million active Twitter users, everyone from tweens to grandparents are getting in on the social media frenzy. While social media sites can be powerful communication tools, they can also provide plenty of opportunity for embarrassment, temptation and even compulsive or addictive behavior. Keep the following in mind as you tweet, post, share, comment and like to help make the most out of your social media adventures.
Don’t post anything online that you would not want shown on the evening news.
With today’s technology, posts, tweets, pictures and more can all be captured instantly by anyone viewing the content. Even if you have second thoughts and decide to go back and delete the content, you never know who else may have downloaded a copy of their own. A revealing picture, an angry tweet or a negative comment about your job can come back to haunt you, so think before you tweet (or post, share, comment, etc.)!
Don’t initiate or carry out arguments online.
It is much easier to say something demeaning, rude or angry through an impersonal electronic communication than it is face-to-face. If you allow your emotions to get the best of you while communicating from a keyboard, you can do some serious damage before you’ve even given the discussion any real thought. Instead, if you find yourself in a conflict with someone, pick up the phone and call them or ask to meet with them in person. Chances are, you will choose your words much more carefully when you are speaking to the other party in real-life as opposed to through electronic means.
Don’t let social media impact your self-worth.
We all struggle at times with seeking the approval of others. Social media can easily turn into a popularity contest and a false way to fuel our own lacking self-esteem. If you find yourself posting content in hopes that others will like you more because of it, you are on a slippery slope. Stay aware of your motives, and make sure you are drawing from what God says about you, not other people, to determine your value and worth.
Don’t let social media mess with your marriage.
A 2010 study done by family attorney Vicki Ziegler found that one in five divorces today are directly related to affairs begun on Facebook. While in the past, losing a person’s phone number may have sufficed to remove them from your life, we are now in a world where most people can be found online in seconds with just a few mouse clicks. Wandering spouses are using social media more and more to seek out extramarital relationships; often with a boyfriend or girlfriend from the past. Avoid the temptation to become too close with any member of the opposite sex online or otherwise. If it’s becoming a problem, find someone to talk to that can help and hold you accountable, and take the bold step of disabling or deleting your account. Simply put, it’s not worth it.
Don’t be an online “Christian weirdo.”
Social media can be a great format to share a spiritual quote, an impactful Bible verse, or a YouTube video of a Christian song that moves you. However, be sensitive to the fact that not all of your social media “friends” or “followers” may share your beliefs. Definitely continue to boldly declare your faith and to use social media as a tool for ministry, but stay relatable. Avoid “Christianese” at all costs and be careful not to post spiritual things that could be taken out of context by a non-believer. Just like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.”
Don’t pass along content that does not glorify God.
Yes, it may be cool, funny, exciting, etc., but if it has the potential to cause another believer to stumble (see 1 Corinthians 8:13), don’t pass it along. Whether it is a dirty joke, scandalous photo or content that mocks someone else or is vulgar, none of it has any place on your page or feed as a follower of Christ. Use the public platform afforded to you by social media to share content that glorifies God and edifies others, not that tempts others or tears them down. The Bible speaks very clearly against conduct that causes others to sin or stumble, so be sure that what you are spreading on social media is not doing just that.
Don’t allow yourself to get addicted.
A recent study by gadget company Retrevo found that nearly half of social media users check their accounts while in bed, in the middle of the night or first thing when they wake up in the morning. Like anything in life, social media can become an unhealthy obsession if not properly balanced and kept in check. If you find yourself compulsively pulling your phone out every five minutes or less to check your social media feeds, you may want to consider some self-evaluation to see if your social media use has become unhealthy. Here is a free online social media addiction test that can help: www.blueglass.com/widgets/social-media-expert.php.
However you choose to use social media, be wise with your online decisions and avoid these all-to-common social media mistakes!