We’ve all done it. The social media post we wish we could take back. That post that was misunderstood or misinterpreted. The one we didn’t expect to be taken the way it was. The post that hurt someone else, whether intentional or not. Or perhaps you are a reader, not a post-er, and you’ve been the one to be hurt by someone else’s words.
As my oldest child enters his tween years, I’ve started thinking about how we will teach him about social media. It’s crucial that he understands that the internet is forever. Like words that are spoken, you cannot take it back. Except in this case, those regretful words or photos are spoken to many people. Before a post can be deleted, it can be saved or forwarded by others, further extending the impact.
It doesn’t take long to realize the weightiness of this issue for our children. And it doesn’t take much longer to realize that this weightiness should apply to my own habits on social media.
I want my words and actions online to honor the Lord. And I believe that requires an intentional evaluation of our state of mind, motives, and purpose before posting something that can reach hundreds of people in a matter of minutes and cannot be taken back. So I wrote out a list of questions to use before posting something on the internet. I hope this list will cause me to slow down and prevent me from posting things that do not glorify the Lord and bring about good for His people.
This list is for me. But since I hope I am not the only one trying to approach this crazy world of social media from a biblical and loving perspective, I thought I’d share it as food for thought.
1. Are you upset, angry, exhausted or overwhelmed?
If so, you are much more likely to post something you’ll regret. Take your emotions to the Lord. Talk to a friend. Now is not the time to share your mind with hundreds of people who barely know you.
2. Would you say this in front of a room full of people?
The internet distances us from our audience. We can’t see them. We don’t even know who is there. That distance brings a false sense of security and removes filters that would be in place if we were talking with them in person. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying this out loud in front of an auditorium of 700 of your friends, family and those random people you vaguely remember from junior high, then you probably shouldn’t say it online.
3. Are you trying to communicate something to a specific person(s)?
This is a temptation, I know. Speaking difficult things to people we know is uncomfortable, and it seems easier to communicate indirectly using social media. But it is not a good idea. Let’s communicate directly with the people in our lives.
4. Does this post involve another person?
If so, do you have their permission? If not, get that first. And if the thought of asking them makes you squirm, you probably have no right to post this anyway.
5. Have you examined your motives for posting?
I realize that we can’t foresee all the ways our posts might impact someone else. But do you know in your heart that your post is intended to make others jealous? Does your post lump a group of people (say, those who disagree with you politically) into a single category and call them names? Are your motives in agreement with Christ’s command to love others as you love yourself? Or are you loving yourself only?
6. Is your post true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? Will it benefit those who see it?
God’s Word gives us this checklist in Philippians 4:8 and Ephesians 4:32. As a follower of Christ, I want my thoughts, words and actions – including those that occur online – to demonstrate obedience to His commands. He gives us these guidelines for our own good and for the good of those around us. I can love God and love others by considering these things before I speak.
Please don’t unfriend me – I am not in a position to judge your posts! I am guilty of posting things I shouldn’t, and I know I will be again in the future. I rejoice that God’s grace is greater than all our sins! But I hope that as brothers and sisters in Christ, or as friends who want the best for each other, we can encourage each other to use the internet for good and for God’s glory.
Now excuse me while I see what your toddlers are getting into today on Instagram. Because I definitely enjoy seeing that mess all over your kitchen floor!Share