By Amy Larson from Mom Fuel
Is it just me, or does it seem like each time social media calms down … something else happens to stir the pot again? I’m not the only one seeing this, right? Dramatic global and national events continue to cause upset, polarization, division, and some really dark seasons on social media. It can be so easy to get dragged into the muck of the constant internet battles we see so often these days.
So, as Christians, what can we do about it? Should we banish all forms of social media from our lives? Dramatically announce our departure from a given platform and deactivate our accounts? I suppose we could do that. But there are a few other options for shining the light of Jesus on social media. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for each of us, nor for every situation, but these six tips for shining on social media can be used to keep on shining even when your social feeds seem darker than ever.
1. Post About YOUR Life
Sharing other people’s posts on social media can come in handy at times. You may want to share a good blog post or funny parenting meme. Perhaps you like to share your church’s live stream service or a link to your new favorite book. That can be wonderful! Make sure you are also posting about your own life on your social media feeds.
Many friends and family members use social media to keep in touch with each other, and those people want to see your life. Do you have a perfectly staged and edited family portrait? Great, post it! Did you snap a photo of your living room’s post-Christmas disaster? YAS, post it! Using social media to post about your own life is not self-centered. That is what it’s for!
When you focus on posting about your own life and begin to interact with friends and family in a positive way on social media, the social media algorithms will begin to flood your feeds with those kinds of posts. The magical social media algorithm: you take in what you put out!
2. Choose Your Words Wisely
We live in a culture that loves to vent. “Let it all out there”, we think to ourselves. We say things to excuse our public venting like, “I just had to get that off my chest.” I get it. There are more than a few bothersome things out there that sometimes we just want to get rid of. Here’s the big question, though. Does airing your grievances on social media truly help you to process the difficult feelings and emotions you’re dealing with? In my observation and experience, it doesn’t.
While the initial rush of “really letting them have it” is exhilarating, more often than not it leads to further conflict and further frustration. Let’s face some difficult truths here. Not everyone on your friends list or feed has the same relationship with Jesus that you do. Not everyone thinks about every single topic the way that you do. And yet all of us are convinced that our thinking is right. (Otherwise, we wouldn’t think that way, right?)
You, dear sister in Christ, are not like everybody on your feed. We can so easily fall into the habit of mimicking the behaviors we see online without recognizing that our word choice and our reactions, both online and IRL, have higher stakes than we might remember at first. You’re marked by the Name of Jesus. Your words and your actions reflect to the world what Christians are like and by default reflect what God is like.
This is one of the reasons Paul says in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” While Paul lived in a time before the internet, I highly doubt that if he were here today that he would exclude the words that come out of our collective keyboards from this exhortation. Words matter. Words can bring grace, words can heal, and words can harm and tear down, no matter what medium they’re transmitted through.
Choose your words carefully, because for better or worse, people are getting an impression of Jesus through them, and an impression of Christians, too.
3. Try Not Saying Anything
Everything said must be true; but not everything true must be said. My husband says this often, yet I still need constant reminders. Why is it so hard for me to remember? Probably because I am a dramatic and emotional human, ha!
In the last year I have received some versions of this question about 20 times: “Amy, one of my Facebook friends made a post about something I disagree with. I know I have to reply to be a good Christian; can you help me argue with love?”
My first reaction is “Yes, girl, tell me about it and lemme at them!” But moments later the Holy Spirit always takes over. Let me tell all of you this right now: You do not have to argue on social media to be a good Christian. In fact, we Christians should pray for discernment about this stuff. You may find that the appropriate response to a public social media post is no response.
Say it with me, “not arguing does not equal not Christian.” Sometimes we just need to roll and scroll: roll (our eyes) and scroll (past the post).
The more important the topic, the less likely that discussing it on social media will lead to a positive outcome. Some of this requires face-to-face discussion, built on a platform of years of friendship and mutual understanding. One of my husband’s seminary professors said recently, “Discussing important topics on Social Media is like doing brain surgery with a chainsaw.” I can assure you that your Christian witness is not lacking simply because you kept scrolling past an inflammatory post.
4. Know When to Bail
If you find yourself in a heated conversation on social media, it’s extremely difficult to simply stop participating. The overwhelming feelings of emotion and anxiety can rush in like an uninvited heatwave. Mommas, there is still an opportunity to shine on social media amidst these frustrating situations.
If you find yourself arguing on social media, allow yourself to take a step back. Go do something else for 15-20 minutes without your phone or computer. Take a walk, do the dishes, bake some cookies, play a game with your kids, or find someone you trust to talk to about it in real life.
Guard yourself against harmful social media argument trends happening all over the internet. When these things are used against you, there is no further fruitful way to carry on a meaningful and beneficial conversation. If you slip up and use one of these harmful tactics, take a moment to rethink your interaction and consider an apology.
Here are a few harmful tactics as described by online dictionaries:
The technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counteraccusation or raising a different issue.
Straw Man Fallacy
A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it, or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion as if that is really the claim the first person is making.
The False Dichotomy Fallacy
The false dichotomy fallacy depends on an “either-or” argument: you provide only two options and force people to choose between them. In fact, neither choice may be the best, and there may be many other options available. But the argument makes it look like the suggested option is the only feasible one.
Non Sequitur (that does not follow)
When the conclusion does not follow from the premises. In more informal reasoning, it can be when what is presented as evidence or reason is irrelevant or adds very little support to the conclusion.
While this list covers only a fraction of the problematic arguments happening on social media, this list can start to show you which conversations to avoid or remove yourself from. Understand that there are many unstable underlying reasons people argue on social media.
5. Take a Social Media Break
While social media can have many benefits, sometimes you might just need to take a break. I encourage you to try the other tips before deleting your Facebook, but if you feel you need a social media break, go for it! The best way to truly take a social media break is to “leave” quietly. If you truly need a social media break, making a post about that break is going to invite more digital interaction, whether through another social media channel or in a text or phone call asking for the dirty details.
Let’s say you are nervous to leave Facebook because you don’t want to lose touch with friends and family. Maybe your goal shouldn’t be to leave Facebook but to either remove the Facebook friends you don’t wish to interact with or try to change the way you interact on Facebook and allow their algorithm to serve you positive content. If leaving social media isn’t the best move for you after all, there are other changes that can be made to moderate your feed content.
Remember that your choice to leave social media does not need to force that choice on others. Social media can be used for positive things, even among the drama. Everyone has personal reasons to remain on social media. Some use it as an excellent business tool, others for local information and recommendations. Some stay on social media during trying times to learn and grow in areas of discernment and positive beneficial conversation. Whether you choose to leave social media or not, you can respect others for their decision and expect them to respect yours.
6. Follow Jesus
The truth is this: whatever comes out of your keyboard is a reflection of Jesus. Ooof. We can either feel defeated and anxious about this, or we can get freaking excited about it! During this chaotic and emotional season of life, remember to turn to Jesus in prayer and reading the Bible. Consider starting a daily devotional like this one by a wonderful woman, Sara Borgstede. Talk to your pastor or other church leaders about your social media struggles and allow them to guide and encourage you.
Spaces of uncertainty are where Satan creeps in, and we are smothered with uncertainty these days. Let’s continue to pray together for discernment in both the beneficial and hurtful social media situations.
So, now what? We read these six ways to shine on social media. Social media will be way easier to navigate now, right? We will always know the perfect thing to say now, right? Oh, how I wish it worked that way. Mommas, I need to read this blog post just as much as anyone, and I wrote it! Since these tips are treacherous to try to remember on your own, I made us all a printable poster as a reminder.
There is no shame in printing this poster and placing it in a place you see often. Print one for every room in your house if you need to! You aren’t alone and I’m on your team.
This blog was originally published at https://www.momfuelempire.com/6-ways-to-shine-on-social-media/. Used by permission. For more helpful blog posts for moms who want to follow Jesus, check out the most recent Mom Fuel posts!