I have heard several friends say, or even post on social media, “remember when Facebook/Instagram/Twitter was all about posting pictures of your kids or a new puppy?” Sure, there has always been the occasional post that incited drama, or the picture perfect “fakebook” image, or even the classic “vague-booking” when a bestie shared just enough to elicit questions or catch your attention. But in all my years as a subscriber and contributor on multiple media outlets, I have never before seen these forums be used on a daily basis to express one’s beliefs and feelings about the often times controversial events surrounding us as a society today, as much as they are now.
I often find myself drawn to posts that perhaps raise my awareness or differ from what I generally value or cause me to pause and evaluate my feelings on whatever topic is presented. Many of us were taught to not speak about politics, race or religion in our social circles. Yet these very things surround us daily. There are times I feel empowered to share my view, other times I shy away. Sometimes I wonder how to even wade in the waters of the depths of these issues and if I even should. I’ve felt confused and shocked at a hot topic post and the commentary that follows. I’ve shied away from participating and then felt guilty for doing so.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a similar situation. If so, here are some tips:
Is your post/comment/response to make a point or make a difference? Asking myself this helps me evaluate my motive for sharing. Does my perspective bring awareness without judgement? Is it intended to heal and not harm? Is it a genuine reflection of how I parent/educate/include/accept/handle confrontation? Would I be ashamed or proud if my name was attached to it?
Am I “In It For The Win?”
Is my participation in a social media conversation about winning an argument and being right? If so, it probably is not the time to post. But if I do, is it worth the relationships I may lose to simply prove my point? This is different than standing up for what I believe in at the risk of hurting someone’s feelings. I’m talking about an emotional reaction and promoting my own agenda versus a sincere response to an offensive post that devalues another human being. This brings me to my next tip…
I learned this acronym years ago and apply it frequently in my marriage, friendships, and social media responses. If I’m Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, it is best to sit on that thought and not respond verbally or in written form. If I am feeling one or any combination of those feelings, it means I’m not at my best mentally, physically or spiritually and will probably feel differently, or at least react differently, when those needs are met.
It Is Yours to Tell
There are a few social media campaigns floating around right now that I have chosen to not share, repost or comment on. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been affected by said hashtag or experienced that particular issue. Nor does it mean it is not important to me. My worth is not defined by my choice to share or not; my life journey is mine to share on my own terms.
My general rule of thumb is to try and give grace with most things. Especially my interactions with others on topics that are bound to bring up strong feelings. We all have our own story, our own bias, our own foundation for the beliefs and values we uphold. As long as we recognize our differences in our attempts to understand others, we have a better chance of creating unity instead of division.
If you still feel weary engaging in a shared expression on social media platforms, feel free to post that picture of unicorns and rainbows.