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My Love/Hate Relationship With Social Media

Confession: Sometimes I hate Facebook. Except when I love Facebook. Basically, I have a love/hate relationship with it. And Twitter. And Instagram. And blogging, when I actually remember to post.

Sometimes I find social media frustrating because people don’t read things the way I intended or don’t understand when I’m trying to be humorous or sarcastic … and don’t even get me started on the crazies that come out in the comments when there’s something controversial in the news. On the other hand, I love staying connected to my college friends who live far away, and I think it’s interesting to see viral blogs or videos that I wouldn’t otherwise come across.

But I struggle with the balance with how my online life can be an asset and enhance my real life, instead of distract from it. I found this Social Media Manifesto from blogger Sammy Rhodes really helpful in thinking about social media consumption. (Sammy is one of the funniest people on Twitter; follow him @sammyrhodes).

He lists seven things that have helped him be thoughtful about his online presence, but the three that I found most convicting are these:

1. Don’t share more online than you share in your real life. We all know someone who’s a chronic oversharer online. Many of us have been that person. Why? In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown gives us a warning about real vs. false vulnerability. She says, “Boundaryless disclosure is one way we protect ourselves from real vulnerability…vulnerability is bankrupt on its own terms when people move from being vulnerable to using vulnerability to deal with unmet needs, get attention, or engage in shock-and-awe behaviors that are so commonplace in today’s culture.” Don’t be more vulnerable online than you are in real life with real friends.

Vulnerability and authenticity are key in experiencing growth and maturity, but it should be done more in a community of real people. Often there’s no context for online communication, which means you don’t have to deal with the consequences of oversharing.

2. Real life friends always have priority over online friends. Not every conversation needs to be mined for tweetable nuggets. Not every party needs to be Instagrammed. Not every facial expression needs to be Snapchatted. Most of the time we need to simply put away our phones and BE with our friends. If our online habits are a distraction or destruction to real life friendships, we need to rethink them. 

We all have (or have been) that friend who never puts down the phone, and it usually serves as a distraction and can prevent relationships from deepening. When a friend is more interested in her screen than in the person sitting across from her at Starbucks, that’s a problem.

3. You’re worth far more than your follower count. All the love in the world means almost nothing when it comes from people who know who you are but don’t actually know you. Trust me. If you measure your worth in retweets and likes, favorites and followers, you will never measure up because you’re only as good as your last post. You’ll never be enough. But if you measure your worth by your preciousness to God and a growing nearness to the people who love you, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you are enough for them. They love you for who you are not who you’re trying to be. I’ve always loved the way CS Lewis says it in Prince Caspian: ‘You come from the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve’, said Aslan. ‘And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth; Be content.’”

It’s easy to let our online persona define who we are, and ultimately it comes down to our motivation in what we share online and what kind of response we’re getting. Social media is a great thing and can absolutely add to our lives, if we’re thoughtful and intentional about how we use it.

Do any of these points from Sammy’s Social Media Manifesto ring true for you? 

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