But if (and when) you arrive at the top of the mountain, you will quickly realize the mountaintop is a lonely place, and you sacrificed your reputation and dignity to get there. Two things that are incredibly difficult to restore once they are lost.
So, if social media impacts your mood, worth or value, you need to step back and ask some deeper questions. Don’t continue to drink from a well that won’t quench your thirst.
2. Am I letting the world share a moment that should be private?
When I think about the moments that shaped my life, all of them occurred far away from Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.
Intimate conversations with a friend over lunch. Holding my child before bed. Mourning with someone over the death of a loved one or the discovery of cancer. The list goes on.
Yes, social media gives you access to endless amounts of information. Tips on how to be happy. Steps to be a better parent. But for all the “how-to” articles you read, the really transformative moments happen away from social media.
At least they should.
When I hold my two beautiful boys at night before they fall asleep, they don’t need dad to snap another picture. They need dad to hold them. When my friend is hurting, he or she doesn’t need me logging information I will later compress into 140 characters. My friend needs me to be present.
When every conversation becomes “tweetable” and every meeting becomes “Instagram-worthy,” you destroy the experience and mystery of the moment.
And, ultimately, you allow social media to rob you of the moments that shape your life. The private moments. The moments between you and a close friend, spouse or children. The moments between you and God.
So, next time you consider writing that post or taking that picture, ask yourself if this moment would be better spent in private.
3. Would I say it to someone face-to-face?
I am going to be real. This needs to be said. One of the great tragedies of social media is that it has given power to a lot of cowards. And cowards with power are dangerous.
Social media allows many people to take cover behind a computer screen and throw harsh or demeaning bombs to any person crossing their path. It has given rise to a new, more destructive form of bullying and manipulation. The kind that never has to deal with the ramifications of harsh words. At least in the days before social media, bullies had to look their victims in the eyes. But no longer. Today, the world has a new kind of coward thanks to social media.
And, sadly, Christians aren’t absent from this discussion. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed Christians use social media to bully people into believing their theology or stance on an issue.
So, what’s the solution?
Here’s a rule for social media: If you wouldn’t say it face-to-face, don’t post it.
Never post a comment you wouldn’t say to that individual face-to-face. Even if you strongly disagree. Social media is not a place to handle conflict or tell the world how you really feel. That’s what cowards do. And if you are a follower of Jesus, there is no place for cowardly behavior. If you are in doubt, don’t post it. If you are unsure whether or not someone will be upset by your words, let it go.
It could be that the most important decision you make today is choosing to delete the post. Don’t be a coward. The world has enough of those. Show the world something different. If you have a concern or disagreement with someone, close Facebook or Twitter and schedule lunch or make a phone call.
4. Am I posting about something when I should be taking action?
Social media is a breeding ground for people with great intentions. But great intentions don’t change lives. Action does.
I love to write. I hope my content challenges and encourages people to draw closer to God. But at the end of the day, I must remember I am not writing to virtual people in a virtual world. Behind every computer screen and phone is a man or woman created in the image of God, just like me. Behind every issue or injustice is a face or a group of faces. Real people. With real problems.
And if I am being real, there are times when I post to social media about an issue or injustice when I should be doing something to correct it instead. There are times I comment on an issue when I have no real desire to act on it. This is a danger of social media. It lulls you into believing that talking about an issue and acting on it are equals.