There are certain rules I kind of have in my head when it comes to Facebook activity. There are the obvious ones where I won’t click LIKE on something that I don’t want to hear about any more. Because once you do, you get notifications of everything on it, or if it’s a page you “like,” you are at the news feed mercy of the page admin. Or the less obvious ones like when you post in a group, it shows up in the feed even though none of your friends are in the group. Be careful what you “say” – always!!
So when it comes to my online actions, I like to think about a modern day version of Philippians 4:8 where the list can be updated for social media.
… true: i.e. Googled and verified by verifiable sources
… honest: did you crop out the part of the pic that changes everything about the pic? haha. just an example. did you check it against reputable sources and are you comfortable with the degree of due diligence you or others put in?
… just: is it taken out of context or is it trying to provoke people? is it making someone you simply don’t like look bad and wrong? is it disrespectful to a human being whether you personally know him or her or not?
… pure: is it scandalous and pointing out others’ flaws? is it malicious? what are my intentions for posting it? am I posting it just to make myself look good or give myself some kind of backhanded compliment? am I seeking validation or even vindication publicly for something better left private?
… lovely: is there beauty or is it just crass? can we learn something about beauty and art from it? does it make people want to hurl?
… good report: do I post a lot of depressing and subversive things? is this harping on negativity and all that is wrong with the world, and not for the intention of changing anything because let’s face it, Facebook doesn’t really change all that much, does it? am I praising someone I know publicly and “chastising” privately? do I have a sense of the people on my friends’ list and what they are accomplishing and doing, encouraging them and coming alongside them when they express needs or requests? or am I too busy doing my own thing?
… virtuous and praiseworthy… There’s nothing wrong with posting the goofy stuff. Not every post has to have deep, profound, theological, sociological impact. And I’m not saying that we should only post “angelic” things like cute puppies and a billion pics of the most beautiful white-asian girl in the Hampton roads area all the time. (Though I don’t fault those who do, and I am a sucker for drunk baby memes.) But I do hope that anything that gets the most clicks and that trends to the top of the pile are those things that are uplifting, encouraging, thought provoking, and inspiring.
Honestly, I am not that amazed by the stuff people share. There is truly nothing new under the sun and though the technology changes, every generation finds ways of being smug and rude and critical of everyone and everything they don’t “like.” Humanity in its leisure becomes professional at beating each other down, facilitating stereotypes and propagating prejudice.
The ultimate test for posting or not for me is to understand that social media in all its glory is still limited. It’s limited to the mutual respect and understanding of those you’re interacting with. If I don’t know you in real life, how do I know what you really think or mean by what you write? Can my prejudice of you and your prejudices about me interfere with true compassion and empathy? There is so much “noise” in our lives online and off that few really take the time to explore and seek to truly understand others around them, so I don’t want to add to the shallowness of relationships, nor the continuation of hype that further isolates people groups and causes misunderstandings.
Because at the end of the day, I really don’t care what you think of me or if you understand me. But I do deeply care if you understand Jesus, and if there is something I do to impede progress toward that end, I will do all I can to refrain from doing it as often as I realize it. I would hope that if you know me outside of social media realm, you will know that what is most important to me is encouraging you to love and be loved. There is nothing more important, no rhetoric, no agenda, no meme, no joke, than truly sharing LOVE. It’s all about the love, people. Get it, give it, and post it.