This thought has been flickering at the back of my mind recently and as I appear to have at least 10 minutes free to write it down I shall try… It’s a largely incoherent thought about ‘social media’ that demon beast of our time, or wait, that really helpful thing that connects us all more, or wait, the worst thing that has happened to us and we must flee from. And therein lies the problem. We must come back to my old friend nuance.
Generally I hear two stories about facebook, twitter and the like. From some I hear about the perils, how everything is bad about this medium. How they encourage people to be self promoting, self absorbed, worried about everyone’s opinion, showing off perfect lives etc etc etc. From others I hear about the possibilities of this new world, the connections made, the encouraging chats happening, the campaigns fought and won, the friendships deepened.
Maybe, just maybe, neither camp has the whole picture. I am so tired of the blanket statements, the moral outrage for or against these new tools in our lives. Because that’s what they are, tools. There is nothing inherently bad or good about facebook and the rest. (although considering God made all things good and for enjoyment we might start with the positive rather than the negative..) There is a whole lot to be said about how we approach them, and here again nuance is key. We can’t assume blanket things about them. I’ve heard people write off facebook saying everyone is projecting perfect lives, the truth is we simply don’t know why people post a lot of the stuff they post. We can and do read into people’s posts. When we were desperate for a baby it was easy to read everyone’s baby posts as people projecting their perfect lives. In reality people were just posting stuff they were doing that day, if you have a baby, that’s pretty much what you do all day. I don’t think the majority of people were thinking, ah ha, I must talk about my baby now to annoy all those people that can’t have babies. Mwah ha ha.
Some people I unfollowed because it hurt too much to see but that was my issue and not theirs. I would much rather someone just unfollowed my tales of life with a tiny human rather than feel I was in some way rubbing their face in my supposed perfect life. And yes I know some people do want to present a better view of what’s going on and if you can see that and it annoys you there is a choice. If you actually know them, talk to them. Ask what’s going on. Don’t just judge them and write them off. If you don’t really know them then simply unfollow them. Don’t let it get to you.
Again I know some who laugh at the concept that anything could be bad about facebook and twitter. But there are pitfalls, of course we can use it for self promotion, attention seeking and more. We have a responsibility to be aware of why we are posting stuff, that’s our responsibility, and the responsibility of our actual flesh and blood friends to keep us accountable in. It’s all too easy to judge others in this realm without looking first at our own motives.
As for me, I have unfollowed many people on facebook simply because I can’t cope with all that information about people. However, I want people to have access to my blog if they want and so I keep a fairly wide pool of acquaintances. If I annoy you or you find the stuff I post annoying then please do unfollow or remove me as your friend. We all have choice about how we use these tools and it’s good to think wisely about how we are using them. I post stuff in the day about what’s going on because I don’t have friends I can hang out with in my house all day. I ward off the loneliness by connecting with people online because I don’t live in a village where me and my tiny human can simply hang out with others. I am sure we were not made to raise kids alone and facebook is my way of not feeling alone in the long days. I have flesh and blood friends who I see throughout the week but there are still long long stretches where it is just me and the boy. I relish the human contact. I like being able to share this parenting/living life thing with others. I like the encouragements I get and give.
But not all my motives are pure, I want the likes, I crave the adoration, I want to be known and it seems a quick fix to get some red ticks by my statuses to do that. I’m working on that with my Maker and he’s pretty good at reminding me where my worth and value really do come from.
It’s a complicated picture this use of social media, so lets stop with the blanket condemnations, or accolades. Lets support each other and respect each other in our use or rejection of it depending on what is most helpful for us. Let’s not expect everyone to think the same as us. Nuance is once again a friend of mine.
As you were.