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Entries in Social Media (32)

Wednesday
Jun052013

True confessions

One thing being unplugged for a few days will do (and of course, this is not a news flash) is remind me of how things can be used well or can be used in a bad way.

While I missed my friends with whom I connect through Facebook, I didn't mess the the way Facebook gets misused. There is no need to provide details; we all know what they are. Facebook often makes me feel like I'm back in high school, navigating the cafeteria, wondering where are the safe places to sit.

While I was away, I had no access to Facebook.  I had email and Twitter, but I only really paid attention to those when we had long times for waiting.  On the way there, I read an entire book on my kindle, Growing Up Amish. Good book, by the way. On the way home, I read 2/3 of Jerry Bridges' True Community.

I had a bucket of cold water thrown my way when I got home and used Facebook. As I said, I missed my friends, but I don't miss the debate that happens there. Facebook is a terrible place for debate. There are very few really cogent arguments on Facebook. I wish there was a way to eliminate commenting ability on individual status lines. Some articles are good to share, but inevitably, others pile on and soon five people are having a debate on my Facebook timeline. Some people can't resist a dissenting comment.

I was pretty tired yesterday, and I had a hard time concentrating, but I did finally carve out some time to edit some photos (what a stress reliever!) and then do some study on Nehemiah. I was reminded as I studied that our lives are full of issues that need addressing from a biblical perspective, but good analysis of those things requires having a solid, biblical foundation. Worship issues, gender issues, modesty issues, marriage issues, parenting issues; they all require a biblical mindset, but more often than not the fleeting nature of social media makes us answer too quickly. "I need to answer now!" may be shouting into the back of my mind.  I realize that tomorrow, some other "issue" will take it's place in the line of importance, so I had better comment today. I think that needs to change for me.

On Monday, I was watching my luggage go through the security check, how the security agents pushed it through, looked at its contents and then pushed it along further within a minute. That's how social media "issues" can be. Move 'em along; there's one waiting in the queue.

I'm determined to strengthen my foundation. I need it. I realized yesterday that I don't have a thick enough skin to navigate Facebook anymore. I don't plan on getting rid of it, because I have sweet sisters with whom I love to keep in touch. But I'm changing my use of it.  How that will look, I don't know. Probably means I'll be using email more. Maybe when my foundation is a little stronger, my skin will thicken up. I thought up a good motto for Facebook yesterday: Facebook, the place where being yourself will attract criticism. Cynical, I know. It was a long, tiring day, brightened up considerably by the return of my luggage.

I'm rambling. These aren't serious thoughts, I suppose. But I, and some other blogging ladies are now deciding to blog by the rule, "it's my blog, and I'll post what I want to." This is not a link-worthy post, and I'm okay with that. At least it's not on Facebook, where I'm sure there would be people lining up to provide analysis.

Who need analysis when one can ponder the beauties of God, as I did on Monday:

Comments are closed for this post, in keeping with its theme.

Tuesday
May212013

Stress free social media

In my ongoing effort to use social media in a positive way, I am giving myself some advice. These are probably no-brainers, and most people probably already know these things, but I'm pretty dense at times:

I should set time limits.  No, this is not legalism. It's a boundary. Boundaries are not legalism. Setting a boundary helps to keep me from being excessive. 

Keep Twitter and Facebook off my phone. Currently, I have Twitter on my phone, but not Facebook. Do I need to be able to scan comments while I'm away from home? It's a time killer when I'm waiting for someone, but a book could do just as nicely. One thing about having those things on my phone is that if there is a controversy or debate, I'll be tempted to think about it all the time because responding is so easy.

Realize that comments boxes can be bad places.  Encouragement is good, but starting a debate in a comments box never ends well. Comments boxes heat up quickly, and people forget their manners. If I want to feel happy at the end of the day, avoiding controversial comments boxes may help. There is also wisdom in letting someone else have the last word and being willing to suffer an offense.

Utilize private messages. Whatever happened to email? Do we have to do everything in public?  Debates in blog comments can be really bad; on Twitter, they're incoherent.  If I really want to engage someone, I should email where I can be more explicit and hopefully avoid misunderstanding.

Measure my reaction.  The more quick and emotional my reaction, the more necessary it is for me to avoid saying something. Comments fired off in the heat of the moment may not be well-thought out. I can't remember where I read it, but someone suggested waiting even as long as a day to say anything.

Learn to ignore. There is a lot of good on social media, but there is a lot of poor thinking, ego, bad judgment and outright stupidity. I can ignore these things. Ignoring is very freeing. I can also remember that I likely perpetuate these things myself, and I must be gracious about the whole matter.

Read silently.  It is "social" media, so there is an element of interaction possible. But just like sitting in a room full of people doesn't mean I have to take every opportunity to speak, I can safely just read and not engage in dialogue. Sometimes, my silence is more valuable than my opinion.

Now, what I need to do is recite these things to myself when I am tempted to say more than I need to say, or to start squirming at the words of another.

Monday
Apr292013

Lessons in spiritual pride

When my children were younger, all under twelve,  I thought I had everything under control. For the most part, my children were very obedient. They were polite with adults at church, said their "please" and "thanks you's" and memorized their bible verses for the kids' club. Other than the typical infractions, there wasn't a lot of conflict.

I was unaware that children can, and will, avoid conflict by being outwardly compliant.  This is especially the habit of the introverted. Introverts don't like conflict, so they will often give in, even if they don't agree. This is something I've learned from personal experience, living with introverts, and also from a dear friend who is introverted. 

The relative freedom from conflict in our home made me spiritually proud because I thought I was its creator. Dangerous ground. I admit it freely; and I know I'm not the only one who has done this.

When I realized the truth, it hit me like a bulldozer levelling a rickety old house and burying it into the hole of its foundation. It was painful, but needed. I began to see just how little control I had over my children. We may control toddlers and younger children, but as long as our children have minds of their own, we will really never control them. And that is the way it ought to be.

During some pretty tough parenting years, my husband said over and over again, "We want them to obey God because they are convicted to do so, not because they're trying to please us." Since I have been able to see things in that way, there is freedom. That is not to say I agree with everything my kids do. But they are big people now, and I am confident that I taught my children the Scriptures, presented the gospel, and worked hard to give them the foundation they need. It's up to them now. Now, I can be on my knees more.

This is not to say that my lessons in spiritual pride are over. I have a lot of room for growth. I see it rear its ugly head when other parents question what my children are doing with their young adults lives. I see it rear its ugly head when it's apparent that others don't approve of my children. For a long time, I didn't want to put pictures of my son on Facebook because he has earrings, and I knew there would be a whole host of mothers out there thinking some bad thoughts. I did it anyway, recently, and I was surprised at how many of them told me what a beautiful family I had. See? Spiritual pride at work. And it was unfair to my children to fear the opinion of others. 

I think social media is one of the worst things for generating pride. We see everyone's victories and feel bad about our failures.  We see the failures of others and we feel self-satisfcation about ourselves. When my children were small, and I didn't have the internet, this kind of phenomenon didn't exist, and I wonder if I was more content back then.

I had cause to teach I Thessalonians 4:9-12 recently, and I was convicted:

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Yes, there is that wonderful verse about living a quiet life. The NIV renders it "mind your own business." Sometimes, putting too much emphasis on what others are doing is not minding my own business, and minding the business of others can lead to spiritual pride in my life. I don't think these verses mean I should never offer an opinion or venture a word of pondering. I do love to write, after all.  It means, though, that I don't have to have an opinion on everything. And if I do have an opinion, do I have to share it? It means resisting the urge to draw conclusions about anyone I don't know, resisting the urge to draw attention to myself by using sharp or cynical words. It means using words to build up.

Lord, may the words of my lips and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you.

Thursday
Apr182013

Social media and the young

Yesterday, I had a lunch date with my daughter, and I was encouraged about her attitude toward social media. She described it to me as a love-hate relationship. She sees the benefit of it, and as an academic, it provides a good venue for information. But she recognizes its weaknesses, too.

As we talked about writing, books, and how social media can help or hinder our writing, she shared with me that she realizes that social media can become a breeding ground for competition and posturing. I'm glad she sees that. It's so true. She recognizes the tendency for her peers to regard something as not really happening unless it's on social media. You didn't eat that hamburger; it's not on Instagram. She astutely reocgnized that social media does allow us the ability to create our own worlds, letting those in we want and excluding those we don't.  She doesn't have Facebook for this reason.

The thing she said that really stuck with me is her comment about how being too forthcoming on social media, i.e., revealing too much about one's personal life, can give people power over you. I had not really seen it that way. What she meant is that when we share too many personal details with people we know only online, it creates a sense that they know you better than they really do. There is still a place for discretion and privacy.

I have been thinking about that quite a bit since our lunch. I was pleased, though, that despite being under twenty-five, she has pretty responsible attitudes about social media. And one thing she said that really encouraged me was that she makes every effort to never complain on Twitter because as she said to me, "What do I have to complain about?  I'm so blessed."

How's that for a word of wisdom from the young?

Thursday
Feb282013

Social media to the glory of God

I've not always used social media for God's glory. Like others, I've said things I shouldn't, vented when I should have remained silent, and used words to tear down others. I believe, though, that social media can be used for God's glory.

I spoke to someone recently who said she was reluctant to use social media as a personal pulpit.  I am not entirely sure what she meant, but I think she may mean coming across as harsh or condemning. No, we don't want to do that as Christians. I make no apologies for being a Christian, and my social media sites reflect that. I think there are times that honouring God via social media is seen just as frequently in what we don't say than in what we do say.

What I mean by that is the tendency to whine and complain. I know what I mean, because I've been guilty of it.

When I was a young woman, I would write in journals, pages and pages of complaints, injustices, and woes. In the end, I could rip out the pages when I re-read them (as I inevitably did) and thought they were pretty stupid. In this day and age, we have forums where people can listen to our rants. Or at least, we think they're listening. In all likelihood, they're rolling their eyes wishing we would stop complaining. I've done it, and I'm ashamed of it.

I've been thinking a lot lately of Paul's letter to the Philippians, where he tells them to do all things without grumbling (Phil. 2:14-15).  The whole letter is filled with Paul's exhortations to rejoice despite the situation; despite the fact that he maybe poured out as a drink offering; despite the fact that he is in jail. Paul didn't complain. He didn't leave a record of whining for us to look back at 2,000 years later. That's the kind of example I want to follow.

To put it bluntly, when we're constantly complaining, it's a bad testimony. If we're going to use Facebook or Twitter, we ought to use it to declare his excellencies, whether it is a simple "Praise the Lord" as our status, or a link to something really God-honouring and edifying. When every little problem becomes a Facebook status, what are we saying about how much we glory in God's goodness to us? I've been that complaining, murmuring person, and ultimately, it doesn't make me feel any better to vent like that.

We may not use our Facebook or Twitter to proclaim the gospel, but at the very least, let's not use it to discourage others from it.