Pokemon Go is making headlines right next to the Turkey Coup. And like every trending thing that has to do with technology, Pokemon Go split the social media group into two parties: Happy Pokemon hunters and scathing, angry anti-Pokemon people.
Has Social Media Crashed Your Relationships?
What we put on social media reflects our hearts and makes us focus on those things which weigh heavily on our emotions. No matter how vague we think we are being on social media, the pain spills out and becomes a manuscript for others to read of what is going on inside of our heads.
As a Social Media Missionary, I wrestle constantly with myself to decide what my motive is behind publishing. It’s so tempting to have a targeted audience and it is such a fine line. How do we express the grief, anger, and pain in responsible ways so others can minister to us or so we can minister to them?
- Ask yourself why you want to post something. Before you hit publish, search out your heart. Read some Bible verses that address this area. Read the context. It matters less what inspired the post as it does why you are posting it.
- Where’s God’s lessons in the post? Will it irreparably harm a relationship? Will it cause dissension? Will it harm someone else’s relationship? If you insist on posting the post, treat it separately from yourself. Change names, dates, and even make it out to be a “friend.” Change details so it is so far removed from the actual event that God’s lesson comes out while keeping the relationship secure.
- Passive aggressive behavior doesn’t change people. When my passive aggressive behavior was out of control, relationships were harmed. This is actually a symptom of a need to control other people from a place of fear. Trust God to handle people and pray for them. As Sheila Walsh said in one of her books: The prayer might feel insincere at first, but eventually God will work on your heart and the prayers you say for them become authentic. These days I pray that God will change me even if the other person won’t change their behavior.
- Set healthy boundaries on your friends and relationships. This is important. People can be great in face-to-face, but toxic online. Or maybe a lot of drama is happening in that person’s life and you need a break from it? First, “Unfollow” the friend. On Facebook, unfollowing isn’t unfriending. It keeps their feeds from showing up on your newsfeeds, but you still have access to their profiles so you can minister to them or be a friend. If the drama continues to impair your ability to be a friend, “unfriend” them only as a last resort. On Twitter and Google Plus it is less confrontational to unfollow or take them out of your circle. People take it too personally on Facebook. As this article states, many reasons exist for people unfriending others. Taking everything personally will make you a very lonely person.
- Set up a Facebook group (set to secret) or Google Community (set to private) for people you trust so you can let them minster to you or you to them. A Calvary Church Facebook group has approximately 14,000 people on it and it is set to public. This means it is not an ideal place to share confidential prayer requests or problems. Setting up a group of your most trusted friends is a better idea. You are allowing people to share your burden without gossiping, being passive aggressive, or harming relationships.
Most of the time, social media has been a blessing to me. Not all relationships can withstand social media though. Sometimes, it is better for friends not be “friends,” and in light of missionary work, today I took some steps to build some healthy boundaries and keep healthy friendships well. Here are my three ways to build better relationships:
- My personal Facebook: This is for friends, family, co-workers, and those “grandfathered” in over the years (because, well, we’ve become great friends from a distance). Oftentimes, I will ignore Facebook friend requests unless I know them as a personal friend. If you are a ministry contact, please “like” my Facebook page or request via email to join our Technology and Missions Page. I do want to connect with you, but Facebook limits the amount of friends one can have on their personal profiles. This is why I created a page. I have 22 social networks. I am active on most of them; and all of them, when I am 100% supported.
- Healthy Discussion by Example: One of the things I have done over the years was to create a comment policy so discussions and disagreements can be civil. This applies to all my Facebook accounts and some other social media where I can monitor the thread. I believe we can treat each other with love and not agree with everything the other person stands for. In doing so, I delete comments that are name calling, a put down to the person’s character, or come off as angry and sound confrontational. There are 52 Bible Verses talking about “self-control.” James 1:19-20 says, “Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.” I believe we can be loving to others with any confrontations done in private message, text, email, phone call, or face-to-face; never in the public eye.
- Refraining From Being Right: The church I work at is doing a sermon on the tongue, and James really hits it hard on the power of the tongue and its consequences. When perusing my social media, I may disagree with someone, but I only respond if it is a misrepresentation of the truth or if there is a chance they are open to discussion. Politics can be a stumbling block to some in seeking Jesus. It is such a hard balance to maintain. Share my politics and become that stumbling block or say nothing? I believe a happy middle ground exists. I think people can share their views if we all practice tolerance towards those we disagree with (and I’m not talking about the tolerance in the accepting way). Tolerance in being kind as we disagree. This goes back to point number two. Or if a conversation is going badly, refraining from further discourse to preserve the friendship. Make sure you are relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you navigate social media and relationships.
What have you found in your relationships that work?
How do you monitor your social networks?
While I still review books at TRC Magazine and CMI (even here sometimes), I have learned that, when it comes to book reviewing, Christians are just as cut-throat about their books as non-believers. Social networking to build up my name and followers just to have the opportunity to publish a book, dried me out.
Like the brown fields of Chino Valley in summer, I dried out beneath the heat of the game between Amazon algorithms, Indie writers sporting an attitude, and making the craft of writing around the sale of the book. If you are a believer, I asked myself, why would you mistreat others because they didn’t like your book? Why would you write a book just to see your name on the cover? Why would you get into writing as a believer and not treat it as the mission field?
So I created a different kind of writers group in partnership with a fellow writer. It does not replace the writers group you are currently in, but enhances it. I wanted a place void of marketing, void of the usual writer walking in with a stack of self-published books asking everyone to review it, and full of the joys and support a small group brings.
You can come to this group with prayer requests, enjoy technology support, and get a critique for all kinds of writing from micro-content on social media to the dream novel; from a missionary looking to write better letters to a blogger who just wants to tell a better story. All are welcome. This group is a place of rest and empowerment to bring writers back to the root of why they write.
Because Matthew 28:19-20 says we must.