There has been an evolution of social media. My first introduction to social media was something called Xzanga. Raise your hand if you remember Zxanga! You can admit it. No judgement. Raise it up! My middle school girls used Xzanga – until they figured out that parents could too easily access Xzanga. So they switched to Myspace. (And then parents had to figure that out.)
After a few years, the high school kids realized that Facebook was the coolest social media so they jumped the Myspace ship and rode the Facebook wave. Once Facebook caught on with the high school kids, then “moms” had to get on Facebook so they could keep track of what their kids were doing and who their kids were hanging out with.
Seven or eight years ago, I signed up on Facebook for that very reason. My girlfriends did too. We didn’t do it so that we could share our lives with the world. We did it to try to share our kids’ lives. In fact, I naively thought I could sign up on Facebook with my maiden name and sort of “hide.” All of a sudden, people were sending me friend requests. People that didn’t even know my maiden name. So much for my sleuthing abilities.
Then grandparents started signing up on Facebook so they could see pictures of their grandkids.
Teenagers, parents and grandparents. Everyone.
That is the first social media evolution. But there has been another social media evolution. When Facebook was created, it was used to give a “status.” When I first got on Facebook, people used one sentence – at most – in their status update. As I would scrolled through my news feed the status’ were often cryptic and vague.
“It’s one of those days.”
“No, she didn’t”
Those were not uncommon status updates. They often left you wondering if you should text the person to get the real story. But then, status’ got long and wordy. (I’m guilty ~ even with coaching from my kids not to do that.) Then, you could “like” and “share” a news article, a quote, a video, or a picture. News feeds evolved to be a source of, well, news. Or a snap shot of pop culture. How many times last week did you say, “Did you see the video of…” referring to something you saw in your Facebook newsfeed? I know a lot of our family conversations involve something funny, or sad, or interesting that we saw on Facebook. While I drank my coffee this morning, without turning the TV on, I found out what the weather forecast was, that a Christian woman icon died, that the animal shelter has another poor, pitiful dog that needs a home and I laughed at a Limbo prank video.
Facebook has evolved from a status forum to a pop culture forum. But there is one more evolution that concerns me. As a Christian what are we saying to the world? If someone looked at your newsfeed, would they know you were a Christian? Would they even think you were a nice person? Would they want to be your friend? Would they want to join you for church on a Sunday if you asked them?
I’m not saying we have to preach on Facebook. But I do think we should measure our words. And sometimes we need to backspace or delete instead of publish. I have very strong opinions about politics and pop culture and if you ask me, I will tell you what I think. But I probably won’t put it on Facebook. You might accuse me of being fake and dishonest but we all know that about Facebook, right? What you see isn’t what you get. People don’t usually publish the worst of times. They publish the best of times. Whether it is a book or a movie or a song on the radio, I try to use Philippians 4:8 as my guideline:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I think it is a good practice to apply it to my Facebook status too. Romans 2:4 talks about “the kindness of Christ” leading people to repentance.
I want people to know what I’m for. Not what I’m against. If I am angry and judgmental on my Facebook page, how does that show Christ’s kindness? If my Facebook status looks just like “the world’s” am I being “the light of the world?” (Matt 5:14)
I’m glad that we are not still navigating Xzanga or Myspace. I’m glad that Facebook lets me connect with friends ~ old and new. I’m glad that I can keep up with the latest crazes and crises with a few quick scrolls through my newsfeed. But I want to represent Christ all the time ~ even on Facebook.
What’s your page look like?
Shelly is a wife, mother and grandmother that loves Jesus, dogs, and sunsets more than sunrises.
She chooses to chuckle and blogs about it at www.chucklesinthechaos.com