In conjunction with a series of devotionals for GraceNotes, I’m writing a series of three blog posts on the topic of Social Media. Here’s Part 1…
Jean and I have lived on both sides and the middle of the USA. We’ve lived in Jamaica, the UK, and we’ve ministered in countries across and up and down Africa. We have friendships spanning the globe, the generations, different segments of Christianity, cultures, and denominations. We’ve reconnected with High School friends since moving back to the USA. I have friends from my Vietnam Tour of Duty. We’d lost contact with many of these old friends and acquaintances, but Social Media has made it possible to reconnect and stay connected across the years and the miles.
I like to read about what friends far and wide are doing after all these years, see photos of their grand-kids, vacations, and events, and even see what they ordered at the last restaurant they ate at! And I marvel that “they haven’t changed a bit!” when I see their latest photos. My life is richer through my use of Social Media.
How I use Social Media
I have a very eclectic Facebook page and Instagram presence! I post My daily devotional, GraceNotes, to three Social Media platforms each day. I post quotes from books and authors, challenging questions, crafted phrases and proverbs from my observations and meditations. I love to read and pass on puns, both written and visual. And I post photos of my dog Jake finding bones in the desert.
I use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I use each of those for specific purposes, and I’m able to link those Social Media Platforms so that I can post in one place and link that post to all my other accounts. This allows me to limit the time I spend on Social Media, yet communicate with a wider, more diverse audience.
You Should Decide What You Say and See on Social Media
I’ll use Facebook as an example. It’s the platform more people in my demographic use. Each platform has its own system and procedures for choosing what you see. I’ll include some of my thought processes in choosing what comes to my Timeline and how I actively manage the content.
Choose What You See on Your Timeline
Like some of you, I have Facebook friends from across the faith spectrum, the political spectrum, and most any other spectrum that comes to mind. If someone in my Friends list starts posting stuff that’s so contrary to my convictions it makes my heart hurt or my brain boil, I may not want to unfriend them because I always expect to have friends I don’t agree with on everything. Depending on the issue, there are ways to limit what you see without slamming the door on the relationship.
My advice is that if someone is posting stuff that offends you, hurts your sensibilities, or infects you with the outrage virus, stop seeing their posts. You don’t have to unfriend them to do that. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the post. You’ll see a menu of things you can do, from “snoozing” their posts, to unfollowing them, to blocking a particular “meme factory” they may be posting content from.
If there’s a Facebook friend who brings you some sunshine and sanity through their posts, but you’re not seeing much of them, go to their Facebook page, and in the lower right corner of their cover photo click “Follow” or if you’re already following them click “See First.” If you want even more sunshine from them, move left to the Friends tab and click “Get Notifications.” That sets you up to see lots of stuff from that friend!
You can tweak your Timeline so that you have a great deal of control over what you see. You can even ask for different ads. You’ll still get the ads, but you may as well have some that you like better than others. Controlling what you see on Facebook will take some awareness and diligence, but you can shape it.
Choose Your Responses Wisely on Social Media
When you see a really funny meme you might respond with a “LOL”! Or not! You may react to a kitten video with “Awwwww! That’s so cute!” You may react to a political post or one of the many variations on “Hot Button Issues” with outrage or even disgust. It’s important that you think through the range of responses you could make and consider the consequences.
- First, remember that you’re not going to change someone’s mind with angry words and an outraged reaction.
- Second, remember that a person is not the sum of their Facebook posts. Because we tend to live in a sub-cultural bubble on Facebook and other social media, we may see lots of posts that friends haven’t really thought through or even checked carefully. It’s unwise to do that, but equally unwise to have a melt-down when someone else does it!
- Third, decide if your relationship with that person has enough value that you don’t want to throw it away in the process of attempting to tell them how wrong they are and how right you are.
Positive Responses to Posts
When you’re scrolling your Timeline, you have some react-response tools at hand. 1) You can “Like” a post. 2) You can “Comment” on a post. 3) You can “Share” a post. Each of these is an escalation of your degree of interaction with the post and the person who posted it.
- You can Like the post. This adds you to the number of likes and anyone can look and see your name there behind the hearts or smileys or thumbs up. This means you’re also likely to see more posts from the person in the future. If it’s a post from a Group or a Page, you can Like, Comment, or Share and those will escalate your future interaction with the Group or Page.
- You can Comment on the post. This means you type in some words or post an emoji, and your name will appear beside your comment. Depending on settings, the person who posted may get a notification of your comment. If you want a friend to see the post, type their name in a Comment and they’ll normally get a notification.
- You can Share the post. If the post or meme has a Share button, you can share it with or without comment to your Timeline or by Messenger to a friend. This is a higher level of engagement and it’s on your Timeline and in your network.
Two more posts coming in the series, friends. Stay tuned! I’ll post the links in my GraceNotes devotionals for Tuesday, January 14 and Wednesday, January 15, 2020