Making Social Media Meaningful

In order to prioritize and purpose my upcoming year, I’ll be going MIA on social media for a while. Goodbye endless scrolling and admitted addiction! Before doing so, I took some time to reflect in hopes of making my social media habits healthier when I return from my hiatus.

Social media has clearly become a major means of communication, but how meaningful are the conversations? We follow, friend, comment, love, and like. We may even messenger, but is there meaning behind our messages? Are we actually socializing or are we responding like robots to friends’ pictures and posts, thinking little about our quick comments and obligatory likes?

How social is social media?

I looked at the good, the bad, and the ugly of social media and wrote down a few quick guidelines for me to glance over before letting my scrolling become eye-rolling and comments become comparison.

*Before we get too far, please hear me. This post is focused on the way we interact and identify ourselves online. I’m simply sharing guidelines for how I personally check  that I am using my social media in a meaningful way that matches my personal mission: to love God and love others.
I love memes, pictures of baby cows, punny posts, and bloopers, but I also love that a platform has the potential to be used for a greater purpose than our own…and that is what we’re tackling here.

Here is my quick guide with simple Scriptures to make social media more meaningful:

-Make personal connections, not just social conversations.
I love that people all over the city, state, and world are able to use a platform to connect based on passion, collaborate for a cause, and offer assistance. Our friends who offer words of wisdom and share support online are so precious and valuable, but we still crave and need intentional and uninterrupted physical interaction. As we allow ourselves to get fulfilled from comments and number of likes, we lose our public, personal connections and ability to truly socialize.

I have silently smiled at women in public after easily interacting with them online. I freeze when I am face-to-face, unsure of what to say because I’m so used to letting the keyboard make the connection.

Social Media

This picture is a perfect example of how a social conversation turned into personal connection. I know these women, but some I would have never met for lunch or called for coffee. Because of mutual friends and messenger, we were able to organize a Momma meet-up and make real life, meaningful connections.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25

Like, love, comment, but keep in mind that Jesus WALKED with his disciples and friends and commands us to do the same. They broke bread and served together. They gathered for dinner, met to pray, and walked to worship. They mourned together, moved mountains together, and ministered together.

-Be vulnerable, never vent. 
I was recently invited to join a group that was a helpful hints turned husband-hater group. As I read a few stories of women who warned against marriage and wrote about their household, I could feel the bitterness burn through the screen as they blasted and bashed. We do it about husbands, the same way we do about hamburgers. We hop online to vent, hoping someone else has experienced our hurt and will validate our feelings.

Social media is a great way to offer assistance from experience, but when we take to Facebook to vent about a mislabeled hamburger or messy spouse, we persuade others to post their mess and it starts a treacherous trend. Instead of venting, we can use our platform as a place of honesty and healing. Share your story, explain your experience, but do so in a way that is truthful, helpful, encouraging, and kind.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Ephesians 4:29

If you like the quick-start guide:
If it’s helpful, it’s vulnerable. If it’s harmful, it’s venting.

-Empower each other, don’t envy strangers.
Oh my COMPARISON. I could fill a book with stories of times I have scrolled, stopped, scored, and sulked. I can’t be the only one who gets caught up in comparison. We see a post…maybe it’s a flawless family photo, picture-perfect new purchase, or an effortless image of a recent accomplishment. We see it, we wish we could have it, be it, buy it, or experience it, and then we sink into this insecure, uneasy, envious hole. It does’t seem that dramatic at the time, but as we refresh our feeds we are flooded with images and updates that trigger our insecurities and jump-start our jealously.

In order for social media to remain meaningful and be used as a purposeful platform for God, we have to learn to empower instead of envy. Encourage the girl who finished a half-marathon, applaud the family who fought to buy their first home, and cheer on the lady who lost 10 pounds and is proud.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalms 51:10

If you cannot comment something kind, leave the screen and look at your heart. If you do not have a positive thought about the post, maybe it’s you who needs healing…I know I have a lot of “Help me, my heart needs healing” moments. Ask God to identify your envy, expose your insecurities, and open your heart up to empower and encourage. 

Share images that identify you, not ones that entice others.  
I apologize now if I step on any toes…I offended myself while processing this idea in my head. Before writing this post I went back and dug deep into the depths of MySpace and Facebook…my stomach was in knots. Selfies accompanied by catchy quotes, pictures sucking-in in a swim suit, and a perfectly captured candid with my hair blowing in the wind and wine in one hand.
WHAT? WHY? Who am I trying to impress or entice? Why do these pictures capture a created version of myself instead of the actuality of my identity?

We have cover photos, profile pictures, and featured images all to give a sneak peak of who we are, our identity. Without images, our profiles look unidentifiable and unfinished. If friends, family, employers, and strangers are defining us based on these few images, shouldn’t we be careful as to not mislead or mistake anyone? Shouldn’t we be sure that our photos are not presenting us in a way that purposefully persuades or proudly parades?

This means we need to choose to use images that represent us, including our morals and mission. My goal as a Christian, teacher, wife, and future mother on social media is be kind and encourage, set a good example, and radiate God’s love. Therefore, my images should be those that identify myself accordingly. I have to check myself to make sure I am being modest, humble, and not seeking attention.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Sometimes we have to step away from the screen in order to open our eyes for what He has in store for us.

When I return to social media I look forward to making meaningful connections, finding encouraging communities, and continuing to find funny memes and furry cow photos!

See you then!

 

3 comments

  1. I’d like to share in honesty that after a certain point, I skipped past a lot of what you wrote. Not because I didn’t like it, but you had some hard truths I needed to face. So thank you for writing about them. I needed to hear/read these things. But it may take time. I’m saving this post for later and a few more laters so I can read a bit, reflect, and come back for the rest.

    Thank you.

    Like

  2. I stepped on my toes quite a few times in the process of writing this post. It’s hard to self-evaluate when it stings a little. The good news is that the sting always brings growth.
    Thanks for your honesty and sharing your thoughts!

    Like

  3. Oh Ashlynn, sorry I’m so late to the party. Your words are spot on. This must not have been an easy post to write. But, you are a wise woman to both realize what you want from social media (connection) and how you’re using it. You’ve got me thinking about my social media habits. Your tips for using it well were so good. I hope your social media break is refreshing and re-focusing. 🙂

    Like

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