When I was a young mom, things were simple. If we threw a baby shower, there was cake, a vegetable and fruit tray, and some punch. Everyone brought a gift and that was it. There was lots of fun, lots of memories, and no pressure. As our children celebrated birthdays, pin the tail on the donkey and a piñata and maybe musical chairs sufficed. A cake and punch with some ice cream thrown in for good measure was enough and everyone had a good time. I am so happy we didn’t have Facebook and Instagram then. The same pressure I feel when I see how many miles my friends have jogged and how they beat their time on their last marathon would have done me in.
As my children are all young adults now, I endure ribbing about their childhood short shorts and striped shirts and buzzed or bowl haircuts (… which I might add, were fashionable at the time). But it doesn’t bother me because I know that back then, I didn’t care and neither did they or their friends. They were clean and clothed and not naked. I shopped at Mervyns and thrift shops. It was enough, and we were happy.
I feel sorry for this generation, parading their exercise and dietary accomplishments, relationships, clothing choices, extravagant parties and seemingly perfect lives for all to see. The motives may be pure, but do our narcissistic natures cause us to paint a media picture that is not real?
Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to know how much snot is coming from your baby’s nose or how naughty Johnny is and how you want to send him to boot camp. That is just as unhelpful. But do we post things to make ourselves look a certain way? Do we post things that we would say in normal conversation?
Imagine yourself standing in the lobby at church or your favorite hangout and announcing at the top of your lungs:
“Everyone, Mary brought me a meal tonight! I am so lucky I have so many friends!”
“Everyone, look at how cute I look in my new dress!”
“Everyone, I spent only $200 on Hank’s first birthday party; everything was perfect and only a few of you were invited!”
“I am so strong; I can actually run 22 miles a week and live on carrots!”
“Everyone, my child is such a brat. I can’t take it anymore!”
Maybe I’m a spoil sport, but I think I’m not the only one who feels this way. One time I posted a quote about marriage on my Facebook page on my anniversary. Soon after, I noticed an old friend had unfriended me. As I searched my heart as to why, I believe that quote cut her to the quick. She has never married and always wanted to. Do I know this for sure? No, but the Lord used it to convict me.
Facebook isn’t real. It tempts us to say things and present ourselves in a way that is not authentic. We get wrapped up in what we want to say without thinking of how our readers might feel. We don’t see their reactions or have the ability to interact with them after they read or see our latest entry. It is like having an unharnessed tongue on crack.
I love the Bible. It touches every topic and I believe there are principles that God defined that apply to this issue as well. If used as a filter, they could guide us as we pen our thoughts and post our pictures for the world to see.
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 praiseworthy — think about such things. Phil 4:8
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20.
In light of these guidelines, what do we do? Be sensitive to your audience. Will others feel left out, condemned or discouraged from reading or seeing your photostream? Will they feel informed on social issues, or politics? Will they feel encouraged about the ways that you are growing and learning on your journey? Don’t forget the old-fashioned thank you note. Thank people for their generosity toward you in a private message rather than publicly. Your children are darling, and I like seeing them. I will rejoice in your marathon success, and I will try not to covet your physical abilities. And as the old adage goes: if in doubt, don’t.