If you’ve ever gotten frustrated with the death of personal communication and the increasing ill-effects of the often skewed, rude, and judgmental social media world, today’s post is for you!
Social media has changed the way we connect, communicate, problem-solve, and make decisions. For many of us, including just the casual user, social media is a daily part of our lives in some way, shape, or form.
For our Declutter Now! and life coaching ministry, we utilize several different platforms to get our message out.
Personally, though, most of my social media interaction is on Facebook.
I love all the encouraging posts and inspirational ecards. I have some pretty funny friends who keep me laughing, and others who steal my heart with their precious pics and stories. Seeing regular updates from those dear to me who live out of state helps reduce the sting of the miles between us, and staying connected to friends from my childhood is a total bonus.
And I enjoy sharing too, ESPECIALLY pictures of our cutie-pie grandkids! But also special events, happy moments, and just plain silly stuff. I enjoy informing, motivating, and challenging, and Facebook is an easy way to share my ideas and information.
But are there downsides to this Facebook craze?
Oh you betcha! Loads of em’.
Have you ever heard of Swip-Swap? Just in case not, and for the sake of simplification, it’s similar to an online yard sale. (Warning….very addictive!) Members sign up to be part of different Facebook Swip-Swap groups based on their geographical location and then they can post pictures, prices, and details for items they want to sell. It can be a lot of fun and you can declutter unwanted stuff without spending money to advertise or going through the hassle of setting up a garage sale.
But not everyone plays nice.
A few days ago I was looking at a post from a lady who had adorable pups for sale. These pups were purebred but didn’t have papers. You wouldn’t believe the tirade that some of the other group members unleashed on this gal. She was told she was a ‘scammer’ and a ‘puppy mill’. She was interrogated. Slammed. Shamed. When asked about the puppies’ parents, the lady kindly said they were both on site. She even went a step further and posted a picture of both momma and daddy. Do you think one of the naysayers thanked her for politely responding to their rude questions and accusations? Of course not.
Now the truth is I have no idea who this lady is. Not a clue. Maybe she is a ‘scammer’? Perhaps she is running a puppy mill? But if I don’t know, chances are neither do any of the other group members who have never met this woman in their lives. Yet they tried and convicted her right there on Facebook, for the entire world (group) to see, without even so much as a well-intentioned question or conversation.
And this isn’t the first time I’ve seen such nastiness on Swip-Swap.
When people are hiding behind keyboards and screens, they can take on an entirely different persona and attitude than if they were actually face to face with someone. Judgements come quickly and input can be harsh. Bold. Cutting. Rude.
Opinions are formed based on a one-sided conversation. Post viewed. Opinion formed. Not always the most educated and informed way to roll.
And certainly not the most respectful or kind approach.
How else can trial and conviction by Facebook occur?
A couple of years ago I was accused of ‘not loving someone enough’. There were no questions. No conversation. Just a nasty blurb hurled at me in a Facebook post. And the basis for hurt feelings? This person, a grown adult, felt I ‘LIKED’ other people’s pictures and posts more than hers.
Did you let the ridiculousness of that sink in?
Totally tried and convicted by Facebook with no discussion whatsoever.
And recently I had a friend who was upset with me, in part, because I haven’t made enough time for her in recent years. There was truth in her argument, but again, without questions or discussion, I was tried and convicted by Facebook. Posts of me having breakfast with other people were more than she could tolerate. That was enough for this gal to decide, on my behalf, how I felt, why I made the choices I did, and what my future decisions would be.
Once again, tried and convicted by Facebook.
Thanks a lot Facebook!
But, the simple truth is, it’s not Facebook’s fault.
It’s 100% operator error.
If we’re going to use AND enjoy social media, here are some tips that will make the experience less stressful and more fulfilling:
- Post responsibly, but react responsibly too. Jumping to conclusions doesn’t permit the other person to participate, so reflect honestly on your feelings. Are you truly interested in problem-solving or in being a professional victim? If it’s the latter, better to remain silent.
- Sharing a heartache, concern, or frustration is one thing, but avoid engaging in public Facebook battles. If you can’t speak to the person, at the very least, send a private message.
- Embrace the lost art of personal communication. Pick up the phone. Go to coffee. If your friendship is one of value, treat it with the courtesy it deserves.
- Don’t let insecurity or jealousy direct your emotions. Seeing pictures of a dinner or event you weren’t invited to can sting, but simmer down and keep the big picture in mind. You can’t be invited to everything. People have the right to socialize with friends other than you. You don’t invite everyone you know to everything you host either, do you? If your gripe is seriously legitimate, don’t allow accusations to preempt sincere, non-aggressive questions. Approach the concern with honesty and love.
- Express and feel joy for your family and friends. If they’re enjoying a fabulous anniversary, amazing vacation, or posting about an accomplishment, rejoice with them. Congratulate them. Love on them. Celebrate them.
- Remember, Facebook is often a ‘Highlight Reel’. Often, behind-the-scene, life looks quite different. If you have concerns, take the time to inquire before haphazardly passing judgment.
- If you are on the receiving end of unhealthy discourse, utilize the management tools Facebook offers such as turning off notifications, unfollowing, unfriending, and even blocking when necessary. Be proactive and intentional so you can enjoy your Facebook experience.
As I wrote this list, it occurred to me that these tips shouldn’t be just reserved for Facebook. We will all benefit by practicing more sensibility, objectivity, kindness, compassion, faith, and love in our daily walk, both on and off social media.
And we must refrain from making false assumptions. Trial and conviction by Facebook is no way to treat people. And no way to live.