The Art of Social Media–To Follow or Not

When it comes to social media, I am truly a bull in a china shop. I honestly don’t know how Facebook works. I see someone’s post and then try to come back to it a minute later and it is gone. I post things intended for one or more select people, and then, somehow it is broadcast to large groups. I only joined it to see photos and hear stories about my family, especially my grandchildren.

Now there are two schools of thought when it comes to what you share on Facebook / Twitter and the likes. I think the Donald is redefining that, whether intended or not. The first school, which I have heard from many,believes that it is totally taboo to share personal opinions on social media sources, just like it is an unspoken rule that you don’t bring up politics or religion at the family reunion. I believe those who hold this view do it for noble causes, mostly to keep the peace. When I share personal opinions in these media forms, I sense these people feeling socially embarrassed for me, like I had just farted while standing in the reception line to greet the queen of England, as if I didn’t know better.

The second view is that social media is the forum that used to occupy the open areas on the Acropolis of Athens, where controversial topics were not only discussed two thousand years ago, but even invited. It was a true exchange of ideas.I believe that in our society, social media has become part of this forum. It is true that rarely you can change someone’s ideas with such postings, but you can make it clear that other ideas do exist and that is the most that you can hope for. Otherwise, they could end up with the notion that they represent the only choice in the matter.

There is a third view, which I greatly respect. I know many pastors and Christian leaders on FB, who never, ever post political or other opinions. I don’t know how they refrain, but they do.I would make a horrible pastor.  I think they are doing the right thing. If you are a pastor of a lot of people there will be a spectrum of ideas within the group you serve. By sharing your political views, you alienate many. I heard (on the radio and TV at least) far too many pastors preaching a certain political view this season.

I have the sense that many of my Evangelical friends have blocked me. Again, I don’t know how Facebook works and in my lack of understanding, my perceptions could be wrong. But when I have sent them personal messages about personal, noncontroversial things, they no longer respond.  There could be many reasons why they have chosen to do this, one being their view that I am being socially inappropriate when I share views on controversial topics . . . and I have been known to be quite candid.

I have also blocked many friends over this political season and now I am working on unblocking them now  if I can only figure out how to. While I don’t know the motive of the others for blocking me, I do know my motives. My motives are simple. When someone posts things that I find offensive (usually it is what I consider fake news stories) and if they do it over and over and over, I am afraid, out of the lack of self-discipline, that I will say something very hateful back to them. It is for this reason, I have blocked some. It is the same principle that an alcoholic removes all booze from their house if they are serious about staying on the wagon. Now that the heat of the political race is calming down, I hope that I can allow those posts to show up once more and that I will not take them personally.

My blocking of friends and family is never because I am mad at them, that I don’t like them or I want to punish them. They have the right to their opinions and I respect that. So this blocking was clearly regarding my own weaknesses.

But, no one needs to embarrassed for me, as if I don’t know better when I post opinions–that are more than just butterfiles and kittens–on FB, that I don’t know better. It is because that I think these social media sources are a proper place for discussion, as long as it is kept civil. There is never a place for bullying or being disrespectful and I am certainly not advocating for that. Mike

 

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