Do You Use Social Media as a Smokescreen?
- Cliff Young Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2013 29 Oct
Social media has forever changed the landscape of marketing, advertising, communication, relationships, sharing, and how we interact with one another.
We are “spontaneously” presented opportunities for those things which are applicable to our specific desires and well-being, we are reconnected with friends whom we have lost touch with for decades, we network with and meet those whom we have common interests or backgrounds, we openly share our thoughts and actions with the world (sometimes feeling the need to document every detail of our day), and we are linked and in tune with other people’s lives.
The other day I noticed I hadn’t posted or written anything in quite a while on my Facebook page (Cliff Young, writer) or on my Twitter account (CliffYoung) and thought I should be more diligent about developing them…but then I had to stop myself and determine (for me), “Why and for what reason?”
With the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of “friends” and “followers” we seemingly have, are we getting more connected or disconnected? Do we really know the people we are calling “friends” and trying to be a part of their lives or more concerned with the “number” we have and self-promotion?
A friend of mine recently expressed her aversion to Facebook. She was not arguing the benefits and connectedness it can provide nor against the use of it (since she does have a page), but rather what and how people share. Her thoughts were, “Most seem to create a perfect persona of who they ‘are’ or want people to think they are.”
I enjoy technology as much as anyone and utilize it every day from morning to night. I am a frequent visitor to social media sites and appreciate how it has connected me with old friends, joined me with new ones and been a platform to exchange thoughts and ideas. However, over the past couple of months I have been thinking about what she said and making an effort it doesn’t dictate who I am or who I am perceived to be.
One of the biggest dangers of social media is we can “be” anyone we want to with a couple of keystrokes and a picture.
The risk is getting caught up and carried away with who we create, attempting to live up to everyone else’s life and expectations, or even having feelings of insignificance because we aren’t doing what others are, don’t have what others appear to have, or going where others seem to be headed.
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly (1 Timothy 4:7).
Pastors and preachers have often challenged me to evaluate and assess, “Who am I when no one else is watching?” However, in this age of highly advanced and quickly changing technology where we seem to never be out of touch with others, I have altered my personal appraisal to ask, “Who am I behind the screen and when it is turned off?”
To put it another way, “Am I always being honest with how I am portraying myself, and with myself, or am I covering-up, embellishing or selling (and believing) something totally different?”
For the past couple of years, I have been grateful to walk alongside a long-time friend who has been battling through a difficult season of marriage, and now divorce. Through the course of the proceedings, what I have heard about her abusive relationship is strangely different from what I see and the perception that is given by her spouse’s posts and pictures on Facebook. From the looks of it (from his standpoint and on social media), things couldn’t be more perfect.
You can't keep your true self hidden forever; before long you'll be exposed. You can't hide behind a religious mask (or a computer screen) forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known (Luke 12:2 MSG).
Time and time again we have seen how public officials, celebrities and athletes present a good front and claim innocence from some accusation hoping to preserve their name, only to hear them later trying to “explain” or “excuse” their shortcoming.
Our lesson is not to necessarily post our “garbage” or misgivings to the world in order to be more “real” and transparent, however if we are claiming to be followers of Christ we are held to a higher standard to be honest with ourselves and about ourselves as we are to the Lord himself.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved (2 Timothy 2:15).
Social media is commonly utilized as a “sounding board” especially with, but not limited to, young people for expressing their opinions and feelings frequently to and about their peers without the thought of consequences to those targeted by the remarks. Whether it is just a momentary emotional response, lapse of judgment or lack of maturity, posts meant to harm can have serious ramifications.
All too often we hear of stories where “cyber-bullying” and malicious comments through social networking sites lead to tragic outcomes.
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself (Proverbs 26:4).
Especially as Singles, when our desire is to find a spouse, social media (and on-line dating) can play a significant role at the outset and throughout the dating process. What we post about ourselves or someone else is “out there” for the world to read, verify, confirm, re-post, forward, document and judge.
Social media sites shouldn’t be seen as a “freedom of speech” forum to “air” private details of a relationship or harsh feelings towards others.
For those us who regularly use these sites, I challenge you to look back and read a significant number of your previous posts with an unbiased view to see what impression a person who may not be familiar with you would have of you.
Would they see the person you truly are - one who lives and loves God or….maybe someone you “want them to see”?
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on facebook and twitter.
Publication date: October 29, 2013