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Getting Serious About: Social Media

I said in a previous post that people we friend on Facebook, follow on twitter, or follow their blogs are in a unique position to influence us. It used to be that we were only influenced by our friends, but in the digital age, we can have “friends” across the globe. We can follow celebrities and see for ourselves exactly how they are feeling and what they are doing. With the diluge of information we are exposed to, it is easier to believe that individual things we read or follow are inconsequential, but this is not the case.

The main thing that brought this issue to the forefront for me was the announcement of Janet Jackson’s wedding this week. In this world of the overshare, Janet Jackson has always managed to keep her private life private. Janet Jackson could be 11 kinds of crazy, be into all sorts of weird things, and we would never know it. I don’t know if she practices any religion or any other personal details that haven’t been carefully run by a publicist before sharing. I may not agree with some of the things I do know about her lifestyle, but it would be hard to accuse her of being too forthcoming.

Between what we allow ourselves to be exposed to and influenced by in social media, and what we put on social media to be scrutinized by others, I see many pitfalls and opportunities to be pulled off track if one is trying to get serious about their lives. Associations are king in our society. The saying has been for years “it’s not what you know but who you know.” If you want to get serious about your life, whether career-wise, relationship-wise, in your Christian walk, or otherwise, you will need to get a hold on your social media associations.

We all know that employers check facebook, LinkedIn, and other accounts to evaluate candidates. Most people have taken off incriminating pictures or set their profiles to private to combat this. We are aware that many relationships have been negatively impacted by Facebook statuses, a relationship status on Facebook, a tweet or Instagram pictures, whether they be friendships or romantic relationships. We can see the influences, but yet, so many of us can’t seem to grasp the delicate balance between being open and telling things that should be kept private, between sowing seeds in our conscience through social media associations and our feelings or actions. So how do you balance interacting with friends through social media and putting your best digital foot forward?

I have three friends who have recently gotten married. They run the range from putting every detail of their lives on Facebook to only updating occasionally. One went from in a relationship to changing her profile picture to one of her walking down the aisle on her father’s arm. One sent out a facebook message as I sat waiting for her to walk down the aisle. One only posted when she got engaged, a week before, and the day of the wedding. Neither of this is inherently wrong. Where we draw the line depends on what we hope to accomplish.

The first thing to note is that anything we put out for public consumption is subject to be scrutinized and judged. Whether you ask for it or not, you are subject to outside input on anything that you share. Furthermore, it’s hard for love not to keep a record of wrongs if you have documented those wrongs on Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else. It is the social media age’s equivalent of telling your friends all about your relationship; they will still be mad when the two of you have smoothed it over. Don’t say you don’t want people in your relationship if you are volunteering information about it for people to judge. Find someone you can trust, and who may be able to help, and talk to them about it, not the world.

The second thing is to make sure whatever you post or share is in line with your beliefs and the life you want to live for Christ. We are to avoid the appearance of evil; it shouldn’t even look like it might be sinful. I shouldn’t be holding bottles of alcohol, wearing revealing clothes, smoking, or “dropping it low” in pictures on any profile I maintain. I shouldn’t have derogatory language all over said profile, either. I shouldn’t reserve all my sanctity and holiness for Sunday when the whole week could use some.

When we are deciding who to follow or befriend, it is important for us to see the influence they can have on our lives. Am I following them because they say mean things about other people that I find funny? Am I following them to be envious and/or judgmental about what’s going on in their lives? Is this association helping or hindering me in pursuing the life I want to live?

I’m not saying that you can’t follow anyone who you find funny or interesting. I’m not saying you can only follow people who say “praise Jesus” at the end of everything. I’m saying that evil communications (or associations) still corrupt good morals. The universal laws that God put in place have not changed. We can’t say we aren’t being influenced by pop culture or media if all we do is consume hours of negative and sinful images and messages and don’t consume any of God’s word. I’m all for enjoying your life and having fun, but choose your associations wisely.

Are there any associations you need to let go of or cultivate? How has social media influenced your attitude and actions?