Social Media — A Blessing or A Curse?
I have been using social media for a long time. It started with LinkedIn. I put my professional information on, and connected with hundreds of other professionals. The majority I had met along the way in my career. I do find it interesting some of the people who still want to connect with me on LinkedIn. I am retired. They are not in my field—they may have been in one of the industries I have worked. Or, are they just name collectors—resume builders? The more LinkedIn connections, the more I know my job? I sure hope not. Now when I go to LinkedIn, it looks a lot like Facebook. I am disappointed by that. I want the site to be totally professional. I don’t need to “like” the postings they make or wish them a happy birthday.
Then I moved to Facebook. At first I couldn’t figure this site out. Why was I connecting with people? I understood LinkedIn. I was a networker in my career. I wanted to learn from others who are on my same career path. But, why I am on Facebook? I will get to that later.
Then came Twitter. Twitter is frustrating because, as you may have guessed, I am not a woman of few words. I tend to be verbose, so with Twitter, I needed to eliminate a lot of words to say the same thing—a man’s dream of a site—no boring long talk! Ha!
I have not dipped my computer into Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social network out there. Except, in my single days — yes, I did Match.com and ChristianSingles.com. The difference between the other sites and dating sites, is that you get to be anonymous on dating sites until you wish to reveal your real self to a specific person.
Facebook, hands down, is my favorite. I love that I have connected with four hundred eleven (411) of my closest friends! That is kind of funny, isn’t it? My closest friend, my husband, hates Facebook. He hates to see politics no matter what the persuasion espoused, and he really hates other people getting into other people’s business, which some people do. So, I have the Facebook account. After we got married, I connected with his family, who are now part of my 411 of my closest friends. When they post photos of their kids, grandkids and special events, I share the photos with him, so he knows what’s going on with his sweet family.
My friends on Facebook come from many areas of my life. I have friends from high school—many were not my friends in high school, but in the past 10-15 years and many reunions later, I now feel a special friendship and closeness to these folks. We have the best class from Lindbergh High School, St. Louis, Missouri. The year was 1966, and yes, we are that old. We have come to love and care about each other. We meet casually throughout the year. We don’t care who was friends in high school and who dated who, or who didn’t date anyone (me). We love sharing our lives and showing off our grandkids. Oh wow, we have gotten old! I am also connected with some of my children’s friends from school. I love seeing them all grown up with their own families, and moving through the challenges that life throws to all of us.
Another group of friends of mine are friends from church when I was a youngster–people around the country who I met at church camp. We have gone many different directions, but we love reconnecting. I have friends from work and professional organizations—people who I love to see still out there in the workforce making a difference.
The other really special group are my relatives. I have a lot of relatives, and they live all over the country. Some I knew well, and some I have only gotten to know through Facebook. I love that I have gotten to know them and their families and their cute kiddos. Otherwise, I would never know these folks. What a blessing and gift to be able to connect and get to know them.
Those are the blessings of social media. There is also a down side.
People get really brave behind a keyboard and monitor. They say things about other people that they would never say to their faces. They become vengeful and mean. I guess they think they are hurting that other person. Yeah, I guess there is a sting to read, or hear from someone else, that something negative and usually untrue has been posted about you. The sad thing is that the dysfunctional friends of these people will enjoy the gossip, but the healthy people will not like seeing that.
I don’t care what relationship issue you are going through, being angry at a friend, a break-up of boyfriend or girlfriend, break-up of a marriage, loss of a job, mad at relatives of the person you are really mad at. STOP! Remember, when your mom would say if you are pointing a finger at someone, others fingers are pointing back at you? Take your anger to a private place. I don’t want to know. Social media is NOT a psychiatrist, marriage counselor, attorney, or self-help group. Would you say these things (sober) at a party of all these people?
Would you really lie, slander, or just gossip about someone attending a social event? More people can see your posts than you think.
Just because you are miserable, angry, or whatever, don’t be bringing the world down with your rants. Don’t talk badly about anyone. It just makes you look bad and petty. I don’t care how awful that person seems to you, posting for the world to see is not wise. Do you know how many potential employers and landlords can find your postings? Complainers don’t get the job—I know—I was a hiring manager! (Also, be careful of the photos you post of yourself—potential employers and landlords just love seeing you sloppy drunk all the time—don’t think so)!
What is the purpose of saying something bad about someone on social media? Do you think it will change peoples’ minds about that person? I don’t think so. I think it will make you look small and petty. Got a problem with someone? Go directly to them. Go to a counselor. Go to an attorney. Your friends on social media are none of those. Stop being a bully. Grow up.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said, the first was “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) He said your neighbor, not just the people you like. EVERYONE! Would you post demeaning things about yourself on social media? Of course not. If you don’t blast awful things about yourself, you shouldn’t say anything negative about anyone.
Think before you post. If you post something that you later think is inappropriate, then go back and delete it. Yes, you can delete anything you have posted. Be the big person.
I cannot fix others’ dysfunction. I tried once, and it threw me into counseling and a 12-step group for codependency. Remember the Serenity prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Don’t try to change what you cannot change. Complaining, gossiping, saying unkind things about another is trying to control someone else by your words. It’s toxic. The only thing we can change is those things we have control of, namely ourselves. Don’t think posting unkind things on social media will change anything—you are not that powerful, and you will look small.
I still love my social media. My purpose has to do with my life vision, “To let others know they are not alone in their challenges, they have value, worth, and a voice. I want to be surrounded by those I love and enjoy the grace of their love to reach out and share it with others.” I hope I accomplish that in my postings and in my blogs. If I don’t, call me on it—personally not for the world to see!
Think before you speak — think before you write!
Make your social media a blessing — not a curse!