Friday, August 13, 2010

My Social Networking Rules

People can get themselves into a lot of trouble with social media. I don't mean trouble like giving out your social security number or address and being robbed (though that is certainly a concern). I'm talking about social trouble. Examples include:
a) getting into a light argument in comments that quickly becomes a feud
b) insulting another person in view of all of your friends and family
c) complaining about your life so often that it darkens your reputation and the way you are perceived.
All of these do nothing for yourself and do nothing to show others who God is (if you're a Christian seeking to live for Him).

These are the guidelines I've laid out for myself. I consider facebook, twitter, social media to be a place where I can pour goodness and positivity into the lives of others. These "rules" help me accomplish that goal. Since I intend my social media to be a ministry (that is, a place where I encourage, lift, and hopefully impact others in a positive way), I've written down the things that I believe directly oppose that purpose. If you'd like to know the guidelines I use for positive social media experiences, here they are! All of these are a direct result of my mission statement (kindness always, respect, hospitality, service, encouragement, always kindness).

1. Avoid writing a negative status and if you must, make it funny. In the broad scheme of things, most of your online "friends" are probably more like "aquaintances" and they do not want or need to hear about your bad day or your pet peeves. Most of the facebook and twitter community does not care about your bad day. Sure, your close friends and family might be sympathetic - and if you make the status funny, you'll get a laugh out of others - but the majority of users will just glance over this update and think something like "well, sucks for her" or "oh, I hope the person he wrote this about doesn't see this update!" The purpose behind a status is to a) tell the world what you're up to or what is on your mind and b) entertain your readers, lift their spirits, and endear you to them. Negative-toned statuses do not accomplish either of these purposes. If you post negative statuses often enough, you'll make people think you need medical help. Not good.

2. Avoid posting your strong opinions and convictions about controversial subjects online. This tends to make enemies. Ranting and raving about political figures or topics will only alienate some readers, anger others and fire up the rest. Some will express their agreement with your position, but others will write a long response about how wrong you are. Perhaps this is the response you want, and that's fine, but for many people, facebook is not the place to discuss political or religious controversies. Once again, your posts should entertain your readers, lift their spirits and endear you to them. Generally, your daily posts will give others enough information about you to guess which direction you lean on the political scale. No need to broadcast it daily (unless you love political discussion and consider your political views a big part of your career, examples include people who study poli-sci or are running for office). Please note that I'm not saying you must be politically correct or that you shouldn't let people know your political standing. Most people like to know where you stand, but social media is no place to start arguments about politics or controversial stuff. I follow this guideline because I do not feel confident in my ability to argue my political opinions and I tend to avoid conflict.

3. Never, under any circumstances, post negatively about someone else. Even if you think you are being discrete about who wronged you, most of your regular facebook readers will be able to guess. When I see someone do this, it makes me want to avoid them at all costs. What if they were to get mad at me and post all over the social media world what a jerk I am? This is the quickest way to alienate people and lose trust with your friends. Here is another problem: posting about your conflicts with another person draws your readers into that conflict. If they know both of you, they will be pressured to pick sides. It gets even worse if you "make up" with the person - now those people who picked sides think both of you are crazy and will distance themselves from you both. Again, this is the quickest way to paint yourself as petty, immature and untrustworthy. Don't ever do this. If you must "warn" people about another, do it in person. If you insult another person on facebook, it's much more likely to taint your reputation than theirs.

4. Avoid commenting or posting on the walls of people you do not regularly interact with. It's just awkward. Obviously, since you're friends with the person, you know them well enough to comment occasionally. Frequently commenting on the statuses, wall posts, pictures of someone you rarely see, however, will probably make you look like a creeper/stalker type. Use your own discretion here. Also, never comment on someone's photos unless you're friends with the person. We all know you can see albums of people you don't even know, but they don't need to know you're stalking them.

That's about it! I didn't write these to tell you what to do. I wrote them for you in case you'd like to know how I govern my online presence. Basically, it all comes down to the following:

Social media should entertain your readers, lift their spirits and endear you to them. That's what it's all about. That's what being a Christian is all about - healing hearts, drawing people to God, showing others who God is through your actions and choices. Being kind and loving. That's all for now!

1 comment:

Kimala Bond said...

You are an inspiration!