I’ve traditionally been a glass half empty kind of person. When I get emotional, I tend to imagine the most doom and gloom outcomes.
Then I get on Facebook and read all kinds of status updates and article postings about how the world as we know it is in a state of disrepair and destruction. And I’m not talking about the real tragedies going on around the world.
I’m talking first world problems.
- How we like to complain that everything is falling apart.
- How it’s all going to hell in a handbasket, due to the rise of socialism or climate change. Take your pick.
- Obama or gun control.
- School lunches or genetically modified soybeans.
It can quickly cause a sensitive-minded person to sink into a state of pity and woe-is-me-ism.
I’m going to have to get off of Facebook and get myself a life. I wrote about this very thing a few weeks ago, and I stand by it. If you’re feeling a little down and out, try getting off Facebook for a while and see if your mood doesn’t improve.
Facebook can be a great tool for staying connected and for promoting positive things. Social media is a necessary part of life if you’re running a business or writing a blog or starting a ministry.
But a lot of what shows up in social media is downright toxic. I see some of the meanest stuff posted by people I really like. People who are nice. People I’ve always admired.
When I see their Facebook posts, I start to wonder.
I start thinking like a 12 year old girl again and I take things personally.
- I wonder if they are talking about me.
- I get paranoid.
- I misinterpret things. And I see everybody else around me doing the same things.
We all know that things come across differently when they are “posted” whether in a text, an email or on Facebook than they do in person. We all will say things in type that we wouldn’t say in person. We all know that things like nuance and tone of voice don’t come across through social media.
Something said tongue in cheek with a chuckle at a dinner party can be interpreted as hateful, venomous vitriol when encountered in print.
And that’s just the thing.
You don’t know who’s reading what you post.
If you’re like me, you have Facebook friends who used to know you, Facebook friends who sorta know you, and Facebook friends who really KNOW you. And you might just be giving the wrong impression to the first two groups. Those “friends” might end up thinking you are a mean and hateful person, even though you and I both know you are the farthest thing from it.
When I first signed up for Facebook in 2008, I learned my lesson the hard way. I actually damaged a friendship through stuff that I posted on Facebook. Thankfully, the friendship was eventually restored, but I learned that what I post and what I say in print makes an impact, and I have since tried to think twice (at least) before posting anything that might be interpreted as mean-spirited or hateful.
This does NOT mean that I never post things that are opinionated.
I am an opinionated woman and I am passionate about many issues, and that means that if I think something needs to be seen or read, I will post it. Many of my own blog posts deal with issues with which other will disagree or might even find offensive.
But my goal and my prayer is always to approach such subjects with respect and diplomacy. I think there is a place for discussion and debate based on knowledge and kindness and the overall theme of “agreeing to disagree.”
If there’s hate language or profanity involved, then in my book it crosses the line.
Just so you don’t think I’m two-faced and preaching a double standard here, please know that while yes, I am politically liberal-leaning, there are many groups and many liberal media outlets from which I will not post or quote. There is a Facebook page that I “liked” a year or so ago called “Christians on the Left.” But I immediately “disliked” the page whenever I saw a post that, for me, crossed the line. I don’t agree with hate-filled language or condescension on either side. Many, many, many of my dearest friends are people who completely disagree with me on political issues.
And that is okay. Somehow, we have managed to remain friends anyway.
What is not okay is meanness.
If you scroll far enough back in my Facebook feed, you may find some mean things posted by me. They weren’t intended that way at the time, but I can see now how they might have been interpreted that way.
Still, I make it my goal, as an ambassador of Christ, now that I’m (a little) more mature, to use my Facebook page as a tool for communication and encouragement.
I’m hoping more people would join me in the endeavor.
5 Ways to Be a Better Facebook Friend
1. Just “Like” it.
If you really agree with a post, yet are concerned that posting it on your page may prove offensive, be misinterpreted, or hurt the cause of Christ (if you are a Christian), consider just “liking” it rather than “sharing” it.For me this includes anything that uses certain profanities. There is a Facebook page called “I F-ing Love Science” and some of the stuff they post I really like. But I won’t repost it simply because of the profanity in the page title.
2. Stop and think.
Think twice before posting/sharing anything. Please. If you have any hesitation whatsoever, then wait. It’s probably not worth it.
3. Limit sarcasm.
Remember that most of the time, sarcasm and satire do not come across the way they are intended in print. If you must post something sarcastic or satirical in nature, at least use emoticons to express your true emotion. That’s what emoticons are for. And also understand that there will be people who won’t get it.
4. Grammar, please!
Please, for the love of God, check your grammar. I’d be willing to bet that 90% of the mean and hateful posts I read are chock full of grammatical errors. Which means that not only do you come across as a mean person, you also come across as a dumb person. Which just reinforces all the sterotypes out there.
5. Extend grace to others.
Be willing to give others the benefit of the doubt as well. Maybe they are trying to be funny, but their posts come across as mean-spirited. You can choose to hide those people from your feed if it bothers you. Just try not to take it personally. Move on.
And there you have it. My top five tips on how to be a little more “glass half full” on your Facebook page. Your friends will thank you!
As always, please feel free to share this post! Let’s spread the love, shall we?