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Before you spend a few minutes of your day reading this blog, I must disclose that I am not a social media pundit or guru. I don’t tweet much…or ever. I have a grand total of four of them, and my last tweet came in December 2014. On top of that, it took me about five minutes in the app just to figure that out! I must be the world’s worst Twitter user. I don’t “snap” either (at least I think that is what it’s called), and I don’t use Instagram. When it comes to social media, Facebook is about it for me. It provides a way for me to keep in touch with friends, and it’s always fun to look back at memories from over the years, but I’m simply not on it that much. However, I must confess that I did post pictures of my son, Ashton’s, travel baseball team, who won their tournament recently…sorry, proud dad moment!
If you use any of these social media platforms, you know that there can be a lot of good that comes from it: asking people to pray for you; keeping in touch with those that have moved away; sharing funny stories; and of course, watching things that make you laugh until your stomach hurts. For me, if it weren’t for Facebook, I would have never seen all of the terrible answers given on Family Feud. I still laugh thinking about them!
On the other hand, you don’t have to be a social media expert to know the downside of social media, and there is a lot of it: foul language; pictures that reveal a little more than the person’s location; and for me, the worst of it is the negativity that shows up in so many shapes and forms. These toxic sources of negativity include rants about our government; judgmental statements about the beliefs of others; memes that belittle people; and hate-filled rhetoric about politics, just to name a few. One simple post can provide the spark necessary for a full-blown, four-alarm social media firestorm that would make most grown men cringe. It amazes me how seemingly respectful adults lose their minds and sensibility in the most public of forums. The sad thing is that most of the people would never say to a person’s face the things they say electronically.
So for me, I make conscious choices about how to deal with the negativity on social media that is driving a stake through the heart of our country.
Here are three things you can do to curb the negativity in your newsfeed, and get the most good out of your social media experience!
- Stay away from the firestorm.
When a post or comment is about to burst into flames, simply choose not to set yourself on fire. An argument on social media is a no-win situation. If you really want to have a meaningful conversation about the topic, call the person and talk to them. Sit down over a glass of sweet tea and truly understand their position. Be open to understanding where they stand. And guess what…you may actually learn something in the process!
- Prune your social media tree.
Delete the “friends” that fill your newsfeed with this negativity. It is a simple click of a button. Don’t put up with it. And when they ask you why, tell them. Be kind…but be honest. Simply make a choice to not subject yourself to the hate-filled rhetoric of others.
- Disconnect to connect.
Limit your time on social media platforms. Meaningful relationships are built face-to-face, not tweet-to-tweet. When distance makes that difficult, instead of staring at the screen of your iPhone, place it next to your ear and call one of your true friends. Ask them how they are doing or how you can pray for them. I am certain they would appreciate that much more than the crying face emoji that you placed on their views about our president.
You see, with everything in our lives we have a choice. Choose to remove the negativity from your life, and free yourself to focus on the things that give life. I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians…
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praise worthy - think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)