Friday, April 19, 2013

How Do You Use Social Media?

Events of recent days and weeks have reminded me that each of us chooses how we will use the social media available to us—platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.  They are readily available for us to express our opinions but we sometimes fail to realize the extent of their reach and the impact of our postings.

Of course, I understand that people choose to use social media in a number of ways.

Some use their accounts to express their anxieties, desperation, and general dissatisfaction with life.  Their social media connection becomes a confessional where they can “dump” their “stuff” with little or no fear of facing the consequences.

Others use their accounts to share their political views.  They share comments, links, and blogs that deal with topics such as the government trying to take away our guns, their disapproval of “government schools,” and a president that they resent or even hate.  They are quick to repeat ideas and information with verifying either.  Again, they either expect little feedback or feel that they can do this with impunity.

Others use their accounts to engage others in games, post information about celebrities, share jokes and funny pictures, or even provide links to pictures of kittens.  For these folks, social media is a soft and fuzzy, fun place to be, but they can overestimate the safety of this digital environment.

I decided several years ago that I would stop griping and whining on Facebook (my primary online platform).  This came only after I realized how some of my comments were taken and that what I wrote could end up anywhere!  I am sure that I even offended some people.  Although I do share political views from time to time, I try to keep it respectful and only share links from reliable sources.  I celebrate my family through posts and pictures. I try to provide encouraging and informative quotes and even scripture.  For purposes of full disclosure, I also promote the work that I do with Pinnacle Leadership Associates and Central Baptist Theological Seminary.

Now, each of us is free to post what we want on social media (within the guidelines of the provider).  In most cases, this is a safe and non-threatening place to do what we feel comfortable doing.   At the same time, each of us also has the freedom to close the door on those whom we perceive as overly opinionated, rude, and disrespectful of others.

When I put something on the web, I realize that I lose control of that material, but I can decide what I am going to post and consider its impact on others.  I can also decide what I want to access and allow on my screen.  I don’t “unfriend” folks often, but I am free to do so when I feel it is appropriate.  In like manner, others can decide they don’t want to receive anything from me.  That’s one of our freedoms.  God bless America!

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