Last week I wrote about my tumultuous relationship with social media. We have an on-again-off-again thing going. I wrote about some of the things I love about Twitter. Today I am going
rant write about some of the things that bother me.
- Social media allows people to create a degree of influence regardless of whether they have built anything of significance. The number of followers someone has doesn’t necessarily correspond to what they have actually accomplished. It can, but many times it doesn’t. Lots of followers create the illusion of influence, but you shouldn’t assume that followers are an accurate reflection of a true leadership. Followers reflect connectivity, not leadership.
- Reading people’s tweets is like watching the highlight reel of their lives. You will read things like, “Going out to dinner with my HOT hubby!” OR “8 MILLION people were baptized at Living Hills Church (fake name) tonight — and that’s just our NEW campus!” OR “Just had the BEST dinner with the BEST friends at the BEST restaurant EVER!!! Love my BFFs!” Of course no one’s daily life is like this every minute of every day. But who is going to tweet things like the following?
- “Driving through McDs with my mediocre and slightly paunchy man — gonna be a normal night.” OR
- “Wow — such huge attendance at Easter. This Sunday was really disappointing.” OR
- “Out to dinner with my friends. It’s ok — not that much fun. But hey, who wants to sit home on Friday night?”
Ok see, those last three bullets are what most people’s day-to-day lives are like, but it’s only the high points that you will ever hear. Of course people are going to tweet the best parts of their lives, and that’s fine! But you should not mistake that for their “normal.” If you’re not careful, you can start to compare your “game film” to everyone else’s “highlight reel,” and your own life will seem dull by comparison. Don’t fall into that trap.
- Twitter and Facebook (and blogs for that matter), make it easy for people to say things online that they would never say to another person’s face. Somehow, people create this online identity that is different from their real life identity, and they act out in rude and inappropriate ways. Psychologists have a word for this, dissociative. In a very general sense, it’s a fragmenting of the self and it is regarded as very unhealthy. Social media allows us to present ourselves differently than we truly are, and when it goes too far, it can weaken us mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Don’t do or say anything online that you wouldn’t do or say in person.
- Reading about all that others are doing can make you feel like you aren’t doing enough. If we are not seriously in tune with what God has called us to do, there can be a temptation to jump out of our lane and into someone else’s lane to run their race instead of our own. Don’t forget that only you can run YOUR race. Be careful not to get distracted by what others are doing and lose sight of what God has called you to do.
- Finally, and I say this somewhat jokingly, I have to wonder if Twitter devalues the phrase “praying for you” just a bit. I’m not God (obviously — SO obviously), so feel free to disagree. But I feel fairly confident in stating that Tweeting “praying for you” is not the same as actually praying for someone. So if you tweet it, pray it.
What about you? Have you noticed any negatives about social media? Do you think social media is having a positive or negative affect on our culture? How do you place limits on social media in your own life?