I am old enough to remember life before social media. In fact, I still remember a conversation with my college roommate where he tried to explain Facebook to me. It seemed ridiculous.
Yet I write this today, less than a decade after that conversation in my dorm room, and it is hard to comprehend our world without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
The game has changed. And the state of our culture today forces us to get in the game. The potential is too great to remain on the sidelines. But there is a problem.
Social media is a world without rules. It is a world where anything goes. There are no guidelines. And where guidelines are absent, chaos is inevitable.
Almost daily, news comes out that a high-ranking official or a social media marketer for a large corporation has been fired due to an insensitive post or tweet. Type in “fired over a tweet” and Google search pops out 30 million results. This doesn’t even include the millions who apply for a job and are never considered because of insensitive words plastered on their social media wall.
It’s time to admit we need some boundaries when it comes to social media. Look, I get it. The idea of a boundary-less world is enticing. We all want to be free. But the irony is, freedom never rests outside of boundaries. A boundary-less world only leads to chaos.
So, I want to propose some boundaries. I am not the official social media guidelines guy. That would be weird. And this list is certainly not exhaustive. That would be impossible. But hopefully the following questions will help you consider when and how to use social media.
Here are six questions to ask before posting on social media.
1. Am I struggling with validation and approval?
Social media is a dangerous drug for those who struggle with approval and validation. Make no mistake. Something or someone validates you every second of every day. God wired you this way. So, if God doesn’t fill the void, something else must.
Social media is so addictive because it gives you instant validation in the form of likes and favorites. Just post your best picture or most insightful comment. Click one button. Boom. Sit back and wait for the likes. As they come, you feel validated. But eventually the likes stop. When they do, you go back to the well. Another photo or comment. Post. More likes. Temporary validation. The cycle continues.
Here’s the real problem. As you rely more on likes for affirmation and validation, the desire for more likes grows stronger. Over time, the pictures become more provocative. The comments become more accusatory. And bridges are burnt because likes tell you there’s only one place at the top of the mountain.