Over the last 10 years, social media has become a big part of our daily interactions with other people. From the early entrants of MySpace and Facebook to newer models like Instagram and SnapChat, people of all ages have adopted some form of social media platform. As with any new idea that comes along, there are problems and abuses that follow. There is a learning curve on how best to use them and discerning their most useful purpose. In the Bible, the 10 Commandments were not given to be a set of rules of oppression, but were given so that the Israelites that had been set free could continue to live a free life. The use of social media seems to require such a set of rules. Social media has so many benefits. Many of which can only be appreciated when these mediums of communications are used properly. So here are my 10 commandments of social media.
Conversation over accusation
Social media implies we are meant to be social. In most of our relationships we engage in conversation when we are face to face with people. But for some reason, social media tends to bring out accusation instead of conversation. Everything we say is to make a point about something that we hold true; everything from politics to religion. Things that may be a small part of our personal conversations become the overwhelming part of what we have to say on social media. Because of limits in words and the difficulty in communicating emotions, we tend to divide instead of grow our relationships while on social media. Many of the issues that we are trying to reduce to a meme or 140 characters are much more complicated than that. Even if you disagree with someone, try to engage in a conversation and not make it about accusation.
Would you say that in person?
If the person you are talking to were standing in front of you, would you say what you are saying on social media? Often the answer is no because if we had said it to them personally, there would be no need to say it on social media. Cyber-bullying is a real problem among youth. We have a misguided belief that it doesn’t matter if they are not standing in front of us. Recently, I was watching a movie and one of the children on the movie was being bullied online. His dad made a statement that when he was in school, he at least escaped bullying when he went home. Now, it goes with you everywhere. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, social media is not the place to say it.
If you are not sure it is true, don’t share it. If you are sure it is true, and saying it will not help in anyway, still don’t say it. Gossip needs to be removed from our conversation on and offline.
Don’t embarrass yourself
Keep your clothes on. Watch your language. If you share it, it can be shared and with your name attached to it. More employers are using social media prior to hiring. Would a prospective employer hire you based on your profile?
Don’t let it just be about you
One of the purposes of social media is for people to stay in contact with you and to know more about you, but don’t let it be just about you. Share words of encouragement. Let it be a place where others benefit from your presence. Share your own personal insights or something that is challenging you to grow or change in hopes that someone else can learn along with you.
Some things are personal. Keep it that way. It needs to stay between you and your spouse or children. It needs to stay in your workplace. It will never be solved on social media, so just keep it to yourself.
Think about it before you post it
One of the ways to eliminate drama is to think before you post. If you are angry or hurt, take a few minutes, or maybe even a few days, before you post something. If you have a question, ask someone completely uninvolved with the situation whether it is appropriate or not. As a follow up to that, if you have to ask, it probably isn’t.
Not the place to win an argument
Social media is a place to engage people in conversation. It is acceptable to disagree with others. It is not the place you will win a debate. Often, you will end up looking like a menace or a bully instead of making your point. Conversate. Debate. But stop trying to be the winner. It is not the place to win.
It’s a tool, it’s not your life
I view social media as a platform. It is an extension of who I am any other time. It is a tool I use to continue to influence people, stay in touch with people and allow other people to stay in touch with me. It is a tool, but it is a small part of my life. Almost all of my posts are scheduled early in the morning to post throughout the day using Hootsuite. I have to work not to get sucked into unproductive time watching videos and reading memes. Use social media. Don’t let it use you.
Don’t allow it to be your only means of communication
In relationships, nothing beats being face to face. Relationships flourish in person. Social media should promote those times, not eliminate those times. Don’t allow social media to be the only way you communicate with people. Let it be a tool to assist those relationships but try not to allow it to be a replacement.
Maybe you have some other suggestions or “commandments” for social media. I would love to hear them. Share them in the comment section. Let’s make social media great.