Social Media Basics: Quit It!

I am privileged to get to teach about social media from time to time, helping pastors and other church leaders to understand how to better use this medium to communicate the Good News. I love it.

And yet, from time to time I get frustrated as I watch people living out their lives on social media. I just want to yell, "Quit it!" when I see people behaving in unhealthy and unhelpful ways on social media. This unhealthy behavior takes many forms, but one in particular has caught my eye lately.

Spouses & significant others -- quit complaining about each other on social media. Just quit it!

Social media is a bullhorn. Would you go to the center of town, grab a bullhorn, and say those things about your significant other? Would you post that complaint on a poster and put it up around town? Because that is exactly what you are doing.

In fact, not just spouses and significant others -- let's just make the rule other people in general. When it doesn't happen on social media, we have a great word to describe this sort of behavior: gossip. Simply put, we (people of faith) do not (should not!) talk about other people that way in public. And social media is public.

And church workers - you should know better. All of us have sat through a homiletics class, where we were told that we should not use real people as sermon illustrations without their permission. If you are going to mention something about your spouse, or a member of the congregation, in Sunday's sermon, then talk to that person beforehand and make sure it is acceptable to them.

What a great rule for social media! After all, social media is essentially a pulpit - a place to make proclamations in the middle of the public square. So here it is: only talk about others on social media in ways that would be acceptable to them.

Or, to make more specific, ask your spouse or family member if it is ok if you post a given comment about them on social media.