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Poster Beware

The Ubiquitous Facebook Question

In light of the constant bombardment of social media in many of our lives, it is easy to get carried away. Sometimes we forget that what we post can be shared more widely. I do think carefully when writing my posts here, because I know that the posts can be read by anyone on the web. I share some things that are personal, but only after careful consideration of the risks and whether the information is important to the content of the post. Thanks to my friend John King for pointing me to a post that reminds me that even what I post to only my “friends” on Facebook can become public in this modern era. Here are the ten helpful suggestions (they are especially aimed at Christians).

  1. What is my motive? This will save you from a lot of trouble and bring perspective. It may even help you filter out what you say and what you choose not to say.
  2. Will this matter in a month? If not, we’re just adding to the digital noise. In that same vein, it’s worth asking: am I bored? If so, don’t post. Status updates done out of boredom should be eliminated entirely.
  3. Is this wise? Another angle: will what I write embarrass my grandmother? There are too many examples of unwise Facebook updates to count. Some are funny. Some make you cringe. Others than to make you cry.
  4. Is it worth it? Put differently, is what I am about to say even necessary? 
  5. Does everyone need to read this? If your update is intended for one person (or a small number of people) send a private message, not one that will end up on every single one of your friends’ pages.
  6. Am I encouraging conversation or shutting it down? Many updates are declarative statements that can come across as condescension or expertise. The best updates invite conversation – many that include a question to engage friends in discussion. Consider asking a few thoughtful questions.
  7. How’s my tone of voice? Am I being passive aggressive? Angry? Am I complaining? Boasting? Preachy? Whiny? This is very significant to keep in mind – especially in this election season.
  8. Is this honoring? Am I dishonoring others (or am I honoring myself too much?) Facebook can be a place that encourages shameless self-promotion. Derail this trajectory on your account as much as you can. Life is not about you. It’s much more interesting when we have a posture of ‘hey, there you are!’ than ‘hey everybody, look at me!’ Remember: it’s very meaningful to honor others and their uniqueness, personality, thoughtfulness and giftedness in public.
  9. Is this truthful? It’s easy to put our best digital foot forward in venues like Facebook, highlighting the good but ignoring the bad. Make sure you aren’t lying – or even telling the truth plus or minus 10 percent.
  10. Could I be investing my time more wisely by doing something else? This would eliminate a significant amount of Facebook status updates worldwide if we all asked this question every time we logged in, wouldn’t it? Remember: life is short. You only live once. Go live it. 

Good reminders, and probably useful for Twitter as well.

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