Social media is not your best friend and neither is it the bastion of everything evil. Platforms like facebook and twitter are tools that can be used for good, for non- good, and for the plumb-inexplicably weird. And whatever the motive, every post and tweet is like throwing a paper airplane outside in the wind, you might throw it in one direction but you have no control over where it will end up.
My use of social media has had its shares of successes and derailments, there have been moments of punching the air with elation and wanting punch someone up close, of feeling like I’ve done something and disappointment at the fact that no one has noticed how smart and whimsical I’ve just been.
Hence, I’m writing a post about how to participate in social media. This is as much a personal guide as anything. Many of these points may be useful for anybody, and others are specifically for Christians, for Christians can be particularly constructive on social media as well as rather embarrassing.
Here are my 20 principles for participating in social media:
1. Facebook or Twitter? Both, either or none. They are useful tools but life will go on quite happily without them. Twitter is useful for gathering and promoting information about events, news stories, hot issues. Facebook is great for connecting with people, and sharing more personal moments (although don’t ever think that facebook is truly private).
2. Before you post/tweet/comment, ask yourself, will this adorn the Gospel, confuse the Gospel or betray the Gospel?
3. Ask yourself, how will people interpret this tweet/post? How will non Christian read it, as well as Christians, and friends. For example, if you decide to skip church in order to enjoy a Sunday morning sleep in, is it helpful to tell Facebook? What are you communicating to your unbelieving friends? What are communicating to your church family?
4. Be careful about engaging in hashtag. People love getting on the bandwagon, but sometimes we do it without knowing the facts.
5. Don’t say something if you’re not prepared for commentary, both positive and negative, and the unexpected.
6. Be truthful. Titus 2:8 talks about, ‘soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.’
7. Not everything we read on social media is true!
8. Be gentle and kind, especially toward people who disagree with you. ‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.’ (Prov 15:1)
9. In an attempt to be ooze normalness, some Christians think that we should avoid quoting Bible verses and offering Gospel thoughts. Don’t be awkward or artificial, but don’t hide the wonders and beauty of the good news of Jesus Christ. We have something to say.
10. Don’t be one dimensional. You’re not always chipper. We’re not always angry. We’re not always talking about football or church or what the kids have achieved this week
11. Regularly check your security settings
12.Be careful about posting photos, especially of your kids.
13. It’s ok to block someone or to decline a friendship invitation.
14. appreciate that issues are almost always more nuanced and complex than 140 characters will allow.
15. Social media is meant to be spontaneous, but it doesn’t hurt to think before you tweet
16. Don’t read everything literalistically; rhetorical devices such as hyperbole, irony, sarcasm, are not only found in books.
17. If you’re really mad at something, it is generally a really good idea to cool off before pressing enter on your over the top vent.
18. If you think you’ll regret it tomorrow, don’t say it today
19. Don’t be a single issues person: exception to this with the accounts that are used for a business or special interest group.
20. Stop trying to be a prophet. Aussies don’t like tall-poppies and you’ll end up frustrated at the fact that Australia isn’t listening to you.
What would you add to this list?