This blog post may not be what the title may cause you to anticipate. However, my intention is to continue on my thought of an earlier blog I wrote. I initially promised a “series” of blogs regarding the overuse or abuse of social media. Well, unofficially, here you go. Perhaps what sparked my thoughts regarding this topic were the recent devastations in our country. During these times especially, people rush to their phones, tablets, or laptops and began sharing post after post. If you read my initial social media blog, you will recall me discussing briefly how individuals have begun pouring out their issues on their various outlets, as if to stand on a stage and shout their problems for all to hear. In this post, I am not discussing relational issues as previously discussed, but rather, the voluntary “trashing” of one’s private life.
There is a common phrase, which I use quite often, especially regarding this topic, that is: just because you have a platform, doesn’t mean you have to use it. Have you heard this before? This is exactly the phrase that I will echo throughout each and every blog I use to address this topic. It is quite appropriate in the context of this blog if one has any type of social media.
What has prompted me to write this blog, specifically, is the recent mass murder that has occurred in Las Vegas. As with any tragedy in our world today, there are common themes that we see on social networks. Quite frequently, the immediate reaction will be simply a widespread sharing of the news itself. This is followed, usually, by some sort of call for support (prayer or “good thoughts and vibes”). I am quite content with these two usual, immediate actions. In fact, I think this is a great use of social media. That is, the widespread of instant news (real, important news), and the seeking out for support in times of trouble. However, it is what follows that I have an issue with.
The phenomena I have been hinting at this entire time is when individual’s utilize their social media “stages” to immediately provide critique, blame or their own guaranteed solutions to whatever has occurred. In regards to the aforementioned mass murder, I witnessed literally hundreds of my social media “friends” post status update after status update about how they know “we” (society at large, or America specifically) need or should resolve this. Now, there are a number of avenues I could go down regarding this topic, but in order to stay in one frame of mind, I want to speak directly to this need to offer one’s opinion to others.
I am very curious why this societal phenomenon has spread so far. I even chatted with my wife about this as it was recently occurring. Individuals will use social media to express their opinion on seemingly every matter, both important and insignificant. Here is my raw unedited thought to this: “Why do they think it matters”. I know, this sounds a bit rough, as it probably is. I have no excuse, and stand by it. Let me expound:
I can recall a funny skit from comedian Dave Chappelle where he asks his audience why celebrities get interviewed about topics that they have no expertise in. He used the example that a popular news station interviewed Ja Rule about the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. This is exactly my point! Perhaps Dave was on to something, and social media has caused us to feel we are some form of a celebrity that needs to express opinions simply because we can.
If I haven’t lost you yet, and you are still reading, let me say, my point isn’t to tell you to “STOP IT” and cease using social media. In fact, my point isn’t even to say that is wrong to express or even have an opinion on things. My point is this, why do we feel our opinion matters that we must shout it from the loudest possible opportunity we can take?
Can you relate to this? I mean honestly? If you have not become defense yet, scroll down your timeline and analysis your posts for a minute? What takes up the majority of your posts? I cannot help but reflect upon Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (ESV). Our social media may tell us where our hearts are?
Perhaps you don’t write opinions about political and societal matters, pat yourself on the back. Unfortunately, these are the only topics that opinions get inappropriately flung around with. For instance, I have a number of strong, theologically minded friends on each and every one of my social media platforms. I have accredited theologians, and I have google scholars (that is a joke for another time). Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t ever post about a thought, event, or topic, but I am saying we should at least reflect on our motive. For instance, having someone write their thoughts on their church’s sermon is one thing, attempting to provide a complete commentary on a book of the bible is another. Now, to my larger point, one of the theologians I follow may in fact do that. Guess what, they can, because their opinions hold weight.
Ah, I feel the angry thoughts coming at me. I guess some of you are sending me your “negative vibes”. Well, let me tell you, this goes for me to. I have learned to not react instantly to impulsions. To save my opinions and thoughts to the arenas of influence that God has granted me, namely, my wife, my family at large, my church and social circles, etc. As I scroll down my feed as I write this, I do see things like a meme about the national anthem controversy and a meme of President Trump condemning socialism, but they were quite hard to find. The majority of my posts are filled with what I want the public to see, the Gospel and the fact that Jesus is Lord, my family and my church. That is it folks.
Take a few moments to reflect on this concept. Maybe you disagree with me. I mean, I am a doctoral psychology student writing on a sociological topic. You have that right to disagree. However, I know that this happens, and that many people are losing out on treasures that they can hold dear to them. As I have pointed out before, if you get into this habit, what happens when you spread your frustrations about your marriage online, or about your children? Some things we need to protect, and to protect them, it means guard it from the world’s eyes