Are We Being Christlike On Social Media?

Probably not.

With a few exceptions, mainly the ones that relate to my job, I’m off Facebook for Lent. I’m finding that it causes me more stress these days, and I know the time I waste scrolling through (and through) (and through) Facebook can be spent more productively on almost anything else.

But Lent will end, and while I’m enjoying my time away from Facebook, I know it’s an inextricable part of modern life, and I’ll have to dive back in sooner or later. What I won’t have to do, however, is go back to the same old ways of interacting on that platform. Not that I was a jerk on Facebook before Ash Wednesday – just that we can all use a little reflecting now and then on how, and why, we use social media.

When we use Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram or whatever else, are we living out our call to be part of the body of Christ? Do the words of love we have for our friends and families carry through to faceless strangers online? How do we respond to something that hurts us, or even just mildly irritates us? Here are three questions to ask yourself:

1. What’s my motivation? Do I just want a couple of likes, or is it going to ruin my day if I don’t get 50+ likes? Do I want to keep my friends in the loop, or do I want someone not-so-friendly in my feed to see what an awesome time I’m having? Am I raising awareness, or poking a hornet’s nest? Be honest with yourself about why you want to make a post in the first place, and see if it speaks to something in your life that would be better fulfilled elsewhere. Very little on social media needs to be shared. That doesn’t make it inherently bad – after all, no one needs ice cream – but living in moderation as Christ-followers applies to our online lives as well. One of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is self-control, so before you post 38 photos of your cat – or that 38-line rant – ask yourself what kind of fruit it’s producing.

2. Am I responding the same way I would face-to-face? Hopefully, you conduct face-to-face interactions with patience, kindness, and an open heart – or at least you take a pause to get yourself to a state of mind where you can conduct the interaction that way. Take that same pause before reacting to something online. Actually, since you don’t have to answer in realtime, there’s no excuse for losing your temper online. Walk away – literally – and wait to respond until you can do so in a way that’s reflective of your faith. (This might include not responding at all!)

3. Is this loving? When pressed to define the greatest commandment, Jesus answered that we must first love God, then love others as ourselves, and that all commandments and laws are based on those two (Matthew 22:37-40). Are we letting love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy guide our words, or are we allowing anger, fear, gossip, or pride to dictate our reactions?

For more guidance on thriving and setting a good example of social media, check out this article.

Laura wears a lot of hats at Real Life: social media coordinator, outreach coordinator, retreat planner, and editor at large. Luckily she looks good in hats.

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