I’ve been a fan of social media for as long as it’s been around.
There are the voices out there that complain about how it separates us from each other or makes us narcissistic or zombies as we do nothing but stare at our screens. And there are truths to each one of those complaints. Social media, like most things, can be used in a negative way.
But it can also be a tool for some really positive things as well. There are many ways we can use it to expand the Kingdom of God, and I’m constantly trying to learn how to make better use of it.
Something I find so interesting about social media is how it is an accurate reflection of how our flesh-and-blood world works. Things that happen in social media land are not so different from things that happen in our real lives.
Because of that, there are a lot of lessons about life we can apply to social media, and a lot of lessons we can learn from social media that can be applied to our lives!
So here are a few lessons I’ve been collecting about social media and about life.
1. Talk about more than just yourself.
You’ve seen those people on social media who can’t seem to talk about anything but themselves. And I’m sure you’ve met those people in person, too. A great way to be a better friend, online and in real life, is to make sure you’re talking about lots of things and asking about other people’s lives as well.
2. Avoid rants.
This is something that happens on social media constantly.
People’s social media platforms become a place for them express their complaints, frustration, and even anger about any situation that comes to mind. If you’ve ever witnessed this, you can attest to the fact that it’s not fun to read. It’s even less fun to listen to in real life.
So in your online life, as well as your life off-line, strive to be a person who shares positive things about the world, and to be gentle about how you talk about the negative things.
3. Try not to post too much.
Unfortunately social cues on social media are much harder to read than they are in person. And even more unfortunate is the tendency we all have to ignore social cues altogether.
We’ve all been a part of the conversations about the things people post for the world to see. Facebook status updates must bear striking resemblance to people’s diaries with the intimate details they share.
In real life, nobody wants to be bombarded by your presence, opinions, complaints, or details about your private life, and on social media, nobody wants that either.
Be discerning with your posting, what you share, and how often. You want your presence and your words to be a pleasant addition, not an annoyance or an over-share.
4. Pay attention to other people.
It’s really easy to be self-centered on social media. After all, it is your social media account, and it’s supposed to be about you… in theory.
But the best social media users know how much better social media is received when it’s thoughtful and kind in its acknowledgment and interaction with its followers. And the best friends know how important it is to be thoughtful and kind in our acknowledgement and interaction with each other.
Social media can feel like this other world completely disconnected from real life, but it usually works more like a mirror.
Use the parallels to guide and instruct you. If you wouldn’t like something to happen in real life, don’t do the equivalent on social media. If something is kind and generous on social media, the equivalent is probably true in real life as well.
In all things though, be a good friend. Focus on the people around you, whether online or in person, and do your best to be good to them. That’s a rule of thumb that will keep you on track.